Review by Ian Keogh
In Lethal Protectors, Frank Tieri and Flaviano’s three chapters are more closely associated with the doings of Carnage himself than any other of the Absolute Carnage tie-ins as the main story takes place in Ravenscroft, Marvel’s all-purpose psychiatric institute. John Jameson’s corruption has been seen as a prelude in War of the Realms: Venom, and Tieri catches up with what happened to Misty Knight afterwards. It’s not pleasant.
There’s a nod to events of an earlier Carnage crossover Maximum Carnage, Tieri reuniting a bunch of characters, but his story goes through the motions and fills the pages without any great emotional impact. That’s intended to be Misty’s plight, but that never convinces, and neither does a fair portion of the dialogue. The heroes bickering among themselves reads like playground bragging, and Carnage running off at the mouth very quickly becomes tiresome. It’s not rescued by the artwork either, which lacks finesse. Flaviano can obviously draw well enough, and while not helped by the tone of the script, there’s little variation to three chapters of snarling creatures.
Leah Williams and Zac Thompson follow up on the Avengers team that intervened during Carnage U.S.A. Carnage is hunting down the brief DNA strands left in anyone who’s ever been possessed by a symbiote, and that includes several Avengers. Because it’s only the single episode balanced against the three of the title story it can’t rescue the collection, but Williams and Thompson provide entertainment. They treat all the people possessed by Carnage as shambling zombies, send Hawkeye off on an impossible mission and process the characters of the other Avengers well. Alberto Alburquerque’s art has a kinetic energy to it bringing Frank Robbins to mind for older readers, and he swarms the pages with the possessed.
Lethal Protectors ends with the assorted covers to the original comics and four one page shorts that are teaser preludes to the Avengers being targeted. If you’re convinced you need all Absolute Carnage tie-ins, they’re available in oversized hardcover along with the main story as the Absolute Carnage Omnibus.