Marvel Comics has managed to find a "brand new bag" and that bag is proving to be quite the success. Though Marvel isn't averse to horror in general, with a steady stream of horror comics coming down the pike throughout the decades in the forms of Ghost Rider, Blade, the Midnight Sons, and Darkhold Redeemers to name a few, it seems that now the mainstream, most popular books coming from the company have dove right into the terrifying genre. Absolute Carnage is already proving to be one of Marvel's biggest event comics and we think a big reason for that is the focus on extraterrestrial terror.
Donny Cates started out writing the successful Venom comic by introducing the idea that the symbiote had spawned from a "symbiote God" named Knull. Knull, aside from being insanely powerful, dwells within a planet of darkness, vying for a means of escape by any means necessary. The "God of the Symbiotes'" origin story plays on the idea of cosmic horror, akin to that of H.P. Lovecraft and even manages to dive into the horror of the ancient folklore of Beowulf and Grendel. As the issues went on in the Eddie Brock piloted series, it was clear that it was leading to something big, and that turned out to be Absolute Carnage.
Carnage, aka Cletus Kassady, was created as an "evil version of Venom" to help solidify Eddie Brock's move into the status of "anti-hero" and with the influence of Knull, the red suited fiend has begun attempting to kill, and/or possess, anyone who had been taken over by a symbiote in the past. The first issue of Absolute Carnage establishes a dire race with Venom and Spider-Man dealing with a brand new version of Carnage and the horror that comes with him. Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman's tale is blending otherworldly horror with modern superheroics, which has appeared to be a winning combination for Marvel overall these days.
The world of Venom isn't the only corner of the Marvel Universe that's been successful by pointing a magnifying glass at the creepier side of storytelling. The Immortal Hulk, from creators Al Ewing and Joe Bennett, has become one of the best selling books in Marvel's roster and this is based entirely on story telling. The comics that now follow the "Devil Hulk" have taken a far scarier approach at presenting the jade goliath, making for one of the best comics on the market today. How often do you see comic books becoming so successful these days thanks mostly to "word of mouth"?
Comics aren't the only medium that Marvel has and it seems that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going to be dipping their toes into the world of horror soon with the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel, Multiverse of Madness, and the recently announced Blade reboot starring Mahershala Ali. Marvel's exploration of horror is paying off dividends for the company's comics, and we'll see if it has a similar effect for the films to boot.
What do you think of Marvel's recent exploration of horror with titles such as Absolute Carnage and the Immortal Hulk? Feel free to let us know in the comics or hit me up directly on Twitter @EVComedy to talk all things comics and anime!