Absolute Carnage: Weapon Plus (#1) – Jed MacKay

3 out of 5

I’m reading some other Jed MacKay titles and enjoying them, and there’s an offhand asterisked reference to this book – a one-shot tie-in to the 2019 Absolute Carnage event – and so’s I figure Why Not? and I picked this book up.

I’m enjoying Jed MacKay, but I’m otherwise not a general Marvel reader – it takes a particular style of writer to navigate the not-a-character-I-created waters in a way that works for me; this means I wasn’t keeping up on pretty much anything else Marvel related – certainly not Absolute Carnage – and so can’t speak to what aspects of this book are necessarily known quantities or new information, or how effectively the contents add to the event storyline. However, within its over-sized contents, beyond the opening page blurb – something something symbiotes were part of the WW II programs and their offshoots that produced Captain America; something something Carnage is now tracking down all symbiote owners and a’slaughtering them – MacKay does, once again, prove to be quite skilled at the aforementioned navigation: he covers a fair amount of history in a compressed but straight-forward format, then gives this particular issue an m.o., executes that m.o., drops some intrigue that might encourage those more inclined than m’self to continue with Absolute Carnage, and then bows out. It’s a wholly solid one-shot.

I don’t know who Clayton Cortez is, but the story gives me enough grounding to care about his plight at the hands of some soldiers with whom he apparently used to operate, and is now being forced to apply his own particular skillset – some kinda Hulk / Wolverine hybrid of powers – to kill Carnage, lest those soldiers (now imbued with symbiote powers as part of a “Weapons Plus” program) off his mother-in-law. This grounding is straight-forward, just a page in which Clayton is thinking to himself while driving home, but it’s enough to set the stage, and juxtapose the brusque threats of his Weapons Plus mates.

Stefano Raffaele’s art doesn’t necessarily always nail the scale of the battle that ends up playing out (Hulkverine vs. Carnage vs. army-kitted-out symbiotes) – I think Dono Sanchez-Almara’s colors are maybe a bit too bright for the darker tone of the story, as well – but there is good eye direction and characterization throughout, and what isn’t there in scale is made up for in the calamity of the scuffle.

Ultimately, if this were my first MacKay book, it’s still too tied to ongoing events (and characters being handled by other writers) to really stand out, but it is a solid issue, and doesn’t make me feel like it’s a waste of time in the way most event tie-ins do, giving me just enough reference to understand the relative importance of going-ons, and then also providing its own beginning, middle, and end.