Resurrected by a cult dedicated to the worship of Knull and bonded to a piece of the deific primordial Grendel symbiote, Cletus Kasady begins hunting everyone who ever bonded to a symbiote in order to claim their codices - trace remnants of symbiote left in their bodies. Over the course of several months, "Dark Carnage" conquers the Underground City that Venom had once protected and sets up a Spire of living abyss to serve as an amplifier for his new hive-mind; and claims the codices of the city of Doverton, Alejandra Jones, Leonard Elkhart, numerous Weapon V personnel, and countless deceased former hosts whose desecrated bodies the cult deposits in a mass grave.
During the War of the Realms, Dark Carnage sets up a lair underneath Manhattan, establishing a second Spire. Succumbing to Knull's corruption, the Riot, Agony, Phage, and Lasher symbiotes take over a family of four and set out for New York. The theft of the corpse of Thaddeus Ross draws the attention of the Hulk, who begins investigating out of concern that something more sinister might be involved and discovers the mass grave, reporting it to the authorities.
Absolute Carnage in New York
Infiltrating Ryker's Island, Dark Carnage kills Lee Price - attempting to frame Eddie Brock - before hunting Eddie and his son down. Despite rebonding to the Venom symbiote, Eddie is outmatched and only able to escape by exploiting the Dark Carnage symbiote's weakness to electricity. Reluctantly allying with Spider-Man, Eddie contacts the Maker - who has built a codex-extracting machine in Rex Strickland's Warehouse and wants to test it on Normie Osborn, one-time host of the Carnage symbiote. Peter and Eddie refuse and set out to retrieve Norman Osborn - who had bonded to the Carnage symbiote as the Red Goblin and now believes himself to be Cletus Kasady - from Ravencroft Institute before Carnage can do so. Anticipating this, Dark Carnage has John Jameson - who he had infected with the Dark Carnage symbiote while slaughtering Doverton - kill the staff and set up a trap. Attacking the institute, Dark Carnage infects the inmates with pieces of the Dark Carnage symbiote to turn them into a horde of four-armed Carnage Doppelgängers, and bonds Norman Osborn to an offshoot of the Dark Carnage symbiote to turn him into a replica of his original Carnage form.
Spider-Man and Venom barely manage to escape and begin searching for the various heroes, antiheroes, and villains who have bonded to symbiotes. Dark Carnage claims Ravencroft Institute as a base of operations and sacrifices Shriek to resurrect the Demogoblin. Misty Knight - who had been captured by Jameson - manages to escape and contacts Iron Fist, who rallies the other heroes who opposed Carnage during his first attempt to conquer Manhattan to rescue her. Deadpool, seeking psychiatric help, comes across Dark Carnage's cult and burns the institute down - forcing Dark Carnage to relocate to his lair under Manhattan.
As Dark Carnage's Carnage Doppelgängers rampage across the city, devouring or infecting everyone they come across, Venom barely rescues Scorpion from Osborn but is unable to save Miles Morales from being infected by a symbiote and turned into a six-armed Carnage Doppelgänger. Contacting Captain America, Wolverine, and the Thing, Spider-Man joins them in disabling the Spire underneath Manhattan, while Hawkeye infiltrates the Underground City in San Francisco and disables its Spire. Hunted by the symbiote-infected Freak, Conundrum, and Will O' The Wisp, Deadpool kills them but is attacked by Osborn. Deadpool is saved by Spider-Man, who he allows to be captured in order to follow Osborn back to Dark Carnage's lair - blowing himself up and losing the lower half of his body in an attempt to kill Dark Carnage. The Scream symbiote is resurrected by Dark Carnage and sent after Andi Benton, bonding to Patricia Robertson. When Scream breaks free from his control and protects Andi, Dark Carnage hunts them down and kills Patricia; the Scream symbiote bonding to Andi and helping her escape. Iron Fist's team rescues Misty Knight and frees Jameson from his symbiote. Returning home from fighting a Lovecraftian monster in deep space, Captain Marvel is eaten by the symbiote-infected Chewie and confronts a manifestation of Dark Carnage inside her. Carol manages to separate Chewie from the Dark Carnage symbiote - forcing the Flerken to regurgitate her - and is briefly taken over by it, but incinerates it with her cosmic powers; leaving Chewie in the care of Spider-Woman before joining the fight.
While this occurs, Rex Strickland's Warehouse is attacked by Riot, Agony, Phage, and Lasher - who have taken over a family of four. Dylan and Normie are rescued by Sleeper, who attempts to bond to Dylan but is captured by the Maker. To save Sleeper, Dylan frees the Life Foundation symbiotes; which merge into Hybrid and take over the Maker. Dylan and Normie are saved by the arrival of Spider-Man's team, and Bruce Banner completes the Maker's machine, killing the Hybrid symbiote in the process.
As the Maker's machine extracts the assembled heroes' and villains' codices, Dark Carnage infiltrates Rex Strickland's warehouse disguised as Eddie Brock, learning Spider-Man's civilian identity in the process, and summons his horde to attack. Frustrated by Eddie's refusal to fight Dark Carnage, the Venom symbiote leaves him and bonds to Bruce Banner, who transforms into the Hulk after being killed. Eddie tasks Spider-Man with escorting Dylan and Normie to safety while he armed himself with Captain America's shield and a Jury gauntlet. While Spider-Man fights Osborn in the tunnels below, Eddie frees Miles from his symbiote and learns that Dark Carnage is nearly strong enough to free Knull. Dark Carnage defeats the Venomized Hulk and rips the Venom symbiote off him, absorbing it to assume a new demonic form. Initially despairing, Eddie frees the extracted codices from the Maker's machine and bonds with them in order to pursue and stop Dark Carnage.
As Eddie and Dark Carnage fight in midair and on the rooftops, Cloak arrives with Dagger, Iron Fist, Firestar, Morbius, Deathlok, Captain Marvel, Deadpool, and Scream as backup, turning the tide against Carnage's horde. With Spider-Man and Norman Osborn unconscious, the latter's offshoot of the Dark Carnage symbiote separates from him and attacks Dylan only to be destroyed when Dylan's powers activate. Eddie and Dark Carnage crash through the roof of the tunnel, the latter telling Eddie that he has already lost - regardless of whether he lets Dark Carnage kill his son or kills Dark Carnage to save Dylan, Knull will be freed. Deciding to save his son and reclaim his symbiote anyway, Eddie kills Dark Carnage, takes the Venom symbiote back, and absorbs the Dark Carnage symbiote into it.
With Dark Carnage's death, the Carnage Doppelgängers are restored to humanity, the heroes celebrating this as a victory. However, as Dark Carnage had predicted, Knull is reawakened and destroys Klyntar, seizing control of its constituent symbiotes and turning them into a fleet of symbiote dragons.
During the fight with Dark Carnage, Eddie revealed Dylan was his son, leaving the boy hurt and believing Eddie had abandoned him. This causes Dylan to hide his powers from Eddie, powers he used when Norman's symbiote tried to hurt him and Normie.
After being assimilated by the Venom symbiote, the Carnage-ized Grendel symbiote lay dormant for a few weeks before it began communicating with Eddie, threatening to take over him and slaughter the Avengers. Eddie returned to the Isla de Huesos to solve his current situation, but the Carnage symbiote caused his Quinjet to crash when he arrived, assimilating the Venom symbiote and separating from him. Alone, Eddie retrieved an armory he had left on the island years ago and tried to issue an ultimatum to the Carnage symbiote, offering it the island in exchange for the Venom symbiote. When Carnage attempted to take over him, Eddie cut off his left hand and fled into the jungle, using a communications tower to conduct a bolt of lightning and separate both symbiotes when the Carnage symbiote tried to bond to him again. Unfortunately for Eddie, the Carnage symbiote got to him before the Venom symbiote could, taking over him. Meanwhile, Dylan had kept a piece of Norman's Carnage symbiote in order to study and understand his powers; using it to track and help his father by transforming Venom into the form of a Tyrannosaurus rex. When both Eddie and Dylan overcame Carnage's will, Eddie was separated from it and bonded with Venom again. Unfortunately, Carnage survived, bonding to a shark to escape the island. Eddie would return to the mainland and inform the Avengers of Knull's arrival.
List of Codices Claimed
These are the known symbiotes assimilated and hosts whose codices were harvested as part of this event and its leadup:
- Scorn (Tanis Nieves) - Carnage and Scorn codices fatally harvested by Grendel
- Stephanie Morrell - killed by Carnage, body exhumed and Carnage codex posthumously harvested by the Cult of Knull
- George Miller - died of natural causes, body exhumed and Carnage codex posthumously harvested by the Cult of Knull
- Entire populace of Doverton, Colorado - Carnage and Dark Carnage codices fatally harvested by Carnage and the Cult of Knull
- Eric Morrell - Dark Carnage codex fatally harvested by Doppelganger
- Venom (Angelo Fortunato) - killed by Venom, body exhumed and Venom codex posthumously harvested by the Cult of Knull
- Agony (Leslie Gesneria) - killed by Scream, body exhumed and Agony codex posthumously harvested by the Cult of Knull
- Phage (Carl Mach) - killed by Scream, body exhumed and Phage codex posthumously harvested by the Cult of Knull
- Lasher (Ramon Hernandez) - killed by Scream, body exhumed and Lasher codex posthumously harvested by the Cult of Knull
- Riot (Trevor Cole) - killed by Scream, body exhumed and Riot codex posthumously harvested by the Cult of Knull
- Toxin (Pat Mulligan) - killed by Blackheart, body exhumed and Toxin codex posthumously harvested by the Cult of Knull
- Thaddeus Ross - killed by Foreigner, body exhumed and Venom codex posthumously harvested by Carnage and the Cult of Knull
- Ghost Rider (Alejandra Jones) - demonically-augmented Venom codex fatally harvested by Carnage
- Leonard Elkhart - Venom codex fatally harvested by Carnage
- Robert Urquhart III - Weapon V symbiote codex fatally harvested by Carnage
- Ezra Sheppard - Weapon V symbiote codex fatally harvested by Carnage
- Matthew Johns - Weapon V symbiote codex fatally harvested by Carnage
- Bob Russell - Weapon V symbiote codex fatally harvested by Carnage
- Dr. Andrew Breen - Weapon V symbiote codex fatally harvested by Carnage
- Unknown number of Weapon V personnel - Weapon V symbiote codices fatally harvested by Carnage
- Venom (Lee Price) - Venom and Maniac codices fatally harvested by Carnage
- Mania Symbiote - assimilated into the Dark Carnage symbiote by Carnage
- Shriek (Frances Barrison) - Scorn codex fatally harvested by Carnage, resurrected as Demagoblin
- Unknown number of Ravencroft inmates - Dark Carnage codices fatally harvested by the Cult of Knull
- Scorpion (Mac Gargan) - Venom and Maniac codices non-fatally harvested by Carnage
- Scream (Patricia Robertson) - killed by Carnage; "Venom" and Scream codices postumously harvested by Carnage
- Lasher (Sadie) - Lasher codex non-fatally harvested by the S.C.I.T.H.E.
- Phage (Billy) - Phage codex non-fatally harvested by the S.C.I.T.H.E.
- Agony (Tess) - Agony codex non-fatally harvested by the S.C.I.T.H.E.
- Riot (Tess' Husband) - Riot codex non-fatally harvested by the S.C.I.T.H.E.
- Sleeper (Tel-Kar) - killed by unnamed alien royal guard; Sleeper and Venom codices posthumously harvested by the S.C.I.T.H.E.
- Goblin Childe (Normie Osborn) - Carnage codex non-fatally harvested by the S.C.I.T.H.E.
- Captain America (Steve Rogers) - Carnage and an unnamed symbiote codex non-fatally harvested by the S.C.I.T.H.E.
- Wolverine (James "Logan" Howlett) - Tyrannosaurus, "Venom", and Carnage codices non-fatally harvested by the S.C.I.T.H.E.
- The Thing (Ben Grimm) - Dreadface, Carnage and Hive-altered symbiote codices non-fatally harvested by the S.C.I.T.H.E.
- Hawkeye (Clint Barton) - Carnage codex non-fatally harvested by the S.C.I.T.H.E.
- The Hulk (Bruce Banner) - Venom codex fatally harvested by Carnage
- Venom symbiote - assimilated into the Dark Carnage symbiote by Carnage
- Carnage (Cletus Kasady) - Carnage, Negative Zone symbiote, Hive-altered symbiote, Dark Carnage, Mania, and Venom codices fatally harvested by Venom
- Venom/"Legion" symbiote - assimilated into the Venom symbiote by Venom
- Dark Carnage symbiote - assimilated into the Venom symbiote by Venom
List of Casualties
- Venom (Lee Price) - gut punched and Maniac symbiote ripped out by Carnage (Cletus Kasady).
- Ghost Rider / Guardián Fantasma (Alejandra Jones) - impaled, spine ripped out and eaten by Carnage (Cletus Kasady).
- Len Elkhart - spine ripped out by Carnage (Cletus Kasady).
- Hybrid (War Dog) - killed by Hybrid Symbiote when it succumbed to Knull's control.
- Unnamed neighbor - killed by Agony (Tess) when she spat a jet of acid onto his face.
- V1 (Robert Urquhart) - killed by Dark Carnage (Cletus Kasady).
- V4 (Ezra Sheppard) - spine ripped out by Dark Carnage (Cletus Kasady).
- V2 (Matthew Johns) - spine ripped out by Dark Carnage (Cletus Kasady).
- V3 (Bob Russell) - spine ripped out by Dark Carnage (Cletus Kasady).
- Numerous unnamed Mars Team members - killed by Dark Carnage (Cletus Kasady).
- Dr. Andrew Breen - offered himself as a sacrifice to Dark Carnage (Cletus Kasady).
- Shriek (Frances Barrison) - spine ripped out by Carnage (Cletus Kasady) and later possesed by Demogoblin / Demagoblin.
- Numerous unnamed New Yorkers - killed by Carnage doppelgängers and Scream (Donna Diego).
- Scream (Trish Robertson) - impaled by Dark Carnage (Cletus Kasady).
- Miles Morales' Symbiote - killed when Venom (Eddie Brock) channeled a surge of electricity through Captain America's shield, freeing Miles.
- Space Squid - obliterated by Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers).
- Dark Carnage (Cletus Kasady) - impaled with a necrosword and sliced in half by Legion / Venom (Eddie Brock).
- Carnage doppelgängers' symbiotes - died when Dark Carnage (Cletus Kasady) was killed by Legion / Venom (Eddie Brock) and the Dark Carnage symbiote was assimilated by Venom Symbiote.
- Web of Venom: Carnage Born #1
- Web of Venom: Unleashed #1
- Web of Venom: Cult of Carnage #1
- Free Comic Book Day 2019 (Spider-Man/Venom) #1
- Web of Venom: Funeral Pyre #1
- Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 5) #30 - 31
- Absolute Carnage: Avengers #1
- Absolute Carnage: Breakout - Part 4
- Absolute Carnage: Captain Marvel #1
- Absolute Carnage: Immortal Hulk #1
- Absolute Carnage: Lethal Protectors #1 - 3
- Absolute Carnage: Miles Morales #1 - 3
- Absolute Carnage: Scream #1 - 3
- Absolute Carnage: Separation Anxiety #1
- Absolute Carnage: Symbiote of Vengeance #1
- Absolute Carnage: Symbiote Spider-Man #1
- Absolute Carnage: Weapon Plus #1
- Absolute Carnage vs. Deadpool #1 - 3
- Venom (Vol. 4) #17 - 20
- Ruins of Ravencroft: Carnage #1
- Ruins of Ravencroft: Sabretooth #1
- Ruins of Ravencroft: Dracula #1
- Ravencroft #1 - 5
- Amazing Spider-Man #252, 345, 361, 797 - 800
- Carnage #1 - 5
- Carnage (Vol. 2) #1 - 16
- Deadpool vs. Carnage #1 - 4
- Everyone Is a Target
- Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol. 3) #21 - 23
- Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #8
- Maximum Carnage
- Mighty Avengers #7 - 8
- Planet of the Symbiotes
- Thor: God of Thunder #1 - 11
- Venom #1 - Venom #18; 150 - 165
- Venom (Vol. 2) #1 - 42
- Venom (Vol. 3) #1 - 6
- Venom (Vol. 4) #1 - 6
- Venom: First Host #1 - 5
- Venom Inc.
- Venom: Lethal Protector #1 - 6
- Venom: Space Knight #1 - 13
- Venom Vs. Carnage #1 - 4
- Venomized #1 - 5
- Absolute Carnage originated as the third arc of Donny Cates' Venom run, but was reworked into an event. Marvel's editorial department additionally refused to let Donny Cates kill off certain major characters.
- Marvel released "post-credit scenes" in the issues part of Everyone Is a Target as a build up for the event.
- 8 minor appearance(s) of Absolute Carnage
- 19 mentions of Absolute Carnage
- 45 article(s) related to Absolute Carnage