Written by Frank Tieri
Pencils by Flaviano
Colours by Federico Blee
Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
Cover price: $3.99 USD
Event tie-ins can usually be separated into two categories: relevant and irrelevant. Sometimes, a comic expands on an event and lends it greater scope or provides an important perspective… and sometimes it exists just to cash-in on a big or popular event. Sadly, Absolute Carnage: Lethal Protectors feels like the latter.
The biggest problem with Lethal Protectors is that it doesn’t feel necessary. The story takes place at Ravencroft, where Carnage and his cult are based out of, alongside a brainwashed John Jameson (Man-Wolf). The comic itself is a follow-up on Frank Tieri’s Web of Venom: Cult of Carnage one-shot and expects readers to remember the events of that comic — and I’m willing to wager most don’t — while also pointlessly containing a scene that makes reference to Absolute Carnage #1 that adds nothing to either story. In the issue’s story proper, we follow Misty Knight as Carnage tries to enact some kind of ceremony involving human sacrifice, one seemingly unconnected to the actual plot of Absolute Carnage, aside from a slight misdirect. This disconnect really hurts the comic, because the overall story just feels pointless, so we have very little reason to care about what’s happening. And rather unlike the Separation Anxiety one-shot, it’s not framed in an interesting way to take advantage of the crossover. The result is just a generic comic that has Carnage in it.
Another problem is that the actual execution of the concept is lacking. Misty Knight is a pretty flat character, but likeable considering the circumstances, which is at least something. There is a twist midway through the issue that is definitely unexpected and gives the comic a little punch to it, but it’s something that feels so irrelevant and disconnected from Absolute Carnage that, if you’re someone like me who barely cares about certain Spider-Man characters, it just fails to land aside from defying expectations in and of itself. Everything else in the issue is fairly meaningless fluff, with contrived moments that undermine Carnage’s threat once again — a similar problem is present in Tieri’s Absolute Carnage vs. Deadpool — for a game of cat and mouse that feels like it should end in about a second.
Flaviano’s pencils are what carry this comic. His messier style furthers the vibe that Tieri is aiming for with some of the scenes, with some intentionally unpleasant character models with sharp angels and scratchy shadows. His heavy shadows make the comic all the moodier as well, especially in slower scenes with less dialogue, where the horror of a Carnage-run Ravencroft is conveyed with just images. With a bit of rewriting, the comic could have been silent in all honesty, and it would’ve likely been more effective.
Sadly, Lethal Protectors doesn’t have much going for it. The story feels pointless and extraneous to Absolute Carnage, the execution itself isn’t standout and the characters are flat. Hopefully, once Iron Fist, Cloak, Dagger and Morbius actually show up, there will be something more to this comic.
2/5 – Below average