Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Minimum Carnage

Carnage: The most ruthless, bloodthirsty, killing machine that the Marvel Universe can provide. He is the son of the Venom symbiote. But, unlike Venom (who became attached to slightly normal people such as Eddie, Pete, and Flash), Carnage had attached itself to a deranged serial killer named Cletus Kasady (who's character had been based off of the Joker himself).

In the ongoing series, Minimum Carnage, this monster has been selected by a team from the Microverse (the Microns) in order to go back with them to kill everything. Kasady complies, yearning for the chance to destroy a universe without a bunch of random superheroes getting in his way.

He is led through a portal called the Prometheus Pit which shrinks him down to the size of the Microverse. Unexpectedly, Venom and Scarlet Spider (heroes) remain hot on his trail. They realized that destroying one universe wouldn't be enough for Carnage and that one day he would return to finish off the normal world.

When they get to the other universe, the three characters are split up.

Carnage remains with the Microns. As they show him around, he realizes that their plan is to clone him. They want to make a Carnage army to take over their plane. He decides to double cross them, killing all of them but one while retorting, "You think--What?--You can grow yourself an army of Carnage-soldiers... Trust me. One of me is plenty."

Simultaneously, Agent Venom has had an interesting experience of his own. After he landed in the Microverse, a bunch of tiny faeries attacked him. They called him "Corrupter" as their voices became powerful sonic waves that caused his symbiote to scream in agony. The good guys of the universe (the Enigma Force) quickly showed up to help him. They saved him from the creatures' sonic blasts. And, they're headed to introduce him to their leader, the Redeemer.

And, guess where Scarlet Spider ended up. He's with the Redeemer. There introduction is a little bit awkward. After the Spider seems to land on his head he grunts and stammers, "Hate. Everything." Obviously, he's in a little bit of pain. Someone next to him responds, "Hate is self-destructive.... I feel the rage in you. The anger. They keep you from fulfilling your potential." Scarlet doesn't take the guy seriously. Really, would anyone? He asks this "Yoda" who he is. The response is, "I am many things. But above all else, I am a man." When the hero asks what the man is doing there, all he gets is, "Preparing." "Preparing for what?" "To die." And then, a monster attacks.

Wow, what a story.

It's amazing to think that a whole universe could exist in a microscopic level. But, isn't that where we are? We are tiny in comparison to the universe. We are atoms on the scale of time. And, we are even less when compared to the greatness of God. The Lord"knows our frame (how we were formed); he remembers that we are dust. As for a man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more." Psalm 103:14-16. We are nothing but dust and grass, living and dying, in order to take up just a speck of time.

Still, this does not hinder God's love for us. The rest of the Psalm shares this. It is saying that although we may seem insignificant, "The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting." 103:17. Even though we are almost nothing on the grand scheme of things, that does not stop Him from loving and cherishing us.

Now, how did we repay God's steadfast love for us? We fell (Gen. 3). Sin entered into the world. It became a cancer, devouring our universe. It is worse than deadly because it is the reason for death itself. Perhaps, the worst part of this is that we are the ones who invited it in. We are the ones who welcomed sin into our lives. We allowed it to make us weak. We allowed it to torture us and to tempt us. We allowed it to kill us. And, we continue to do so. This is the same sort of mistake that the Microns made when they brought Carnage into their home. They wanted power. They wanted knowledge. They wanted to be gods. And, their wages (of their sin) was death. But, our death is much worse. We do not risk the death of our comic book character form, an idea that can die and come back to life with any sort of loophole that the writers can think of. We risk more than our physical death, we risk the repeated death of our soul in Hell.

The reason why the faeries had attacked Venom as he arrived into their world was because he carried with him the same sort of symbiote as Carnage. The alien symbiote is a "corrupter." On the microscopic level, the alien parasite has fed off of many worlds. It slowly eats away on microscopic planets until they are all destroyed. It is a part of the Macroverse (the normal world) that continues to have effects on even things as small as the Microverse.

This is what sin does. It is a powerful entity. It is above anything that we could ever even attempt to control. Although, we try to use it for good (just like Flash tries uses the Venom symbiote as an agent), we cannot. It's too strong, too wicked, too corrupt (recently, even Flash lost control of the symbiote when it attacked Scarlet Spider). As Carnage says, the Devil didn't need an army of demons (although he has one), just sin ("one of me") is enough to destroy the universe.

So, how do we stop it. Look at what the faeries use. Their power lies in the strength of their speech while our power lies in the strength of our (speech's) meaning. The only force we have that is strong enough to stand against the corrupter, sin, is the Word of God, the proclamation of the Gospel, the sword of the Spirit.

But, that is still not enough. As hard as we try, our power is only strong enough to weaken our opponent. We can only force him to scream and scatter (like the bell that makes Venom depart in his original story-lines). We cannot defeat him. We cannot destroy him. We're just members of the Microverse. We're tiny little creatures attempting to fight something that's big enough to devour planets. This is why we need something someone bigger. This is why we need a Redeemer.

There is something extremely familiar about this Redeemer character in the book. He seems to be filled with knowledge, "Hate is self-destructive." And, he might know us better than we know ourselves, " I feel the rage in you. The anger. They keep you from fulfilling your potential." With his advice, we could surely become stronger than who we already are. But, this man also seems a bit odd. He is definitely a man ("I am many things. But above all else, I am a man."). But, typically men are not found "Preparing to die."

In the New Testament, Jesus uses many parables and shares commands to help us become stronger. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And, he is definitely a man. He is a man preparing to die. He had always known his purpose on Earth. "My hour has not yet come" (John 2:4). And, he gladly (Hebrews 12:2) fulfilled it. "It is finished/completed" (John 19:30).  But, even more, he is God (John 10:30).

We find out later that the Microverse Redeemer has been called by many names. But, he sees them as inconsequential. "Some call me the Redeemer... the Prophet. Others, the Savior. Others, a conqueror. But even these names are meaningless. All that matters is my purpose." "I'm a healer." The Redeemer says this right before he heals Spider's wounds from a battle. But, he's not only on a mission to heal individuals. The place that Scarlet had found this man was on the same planet as the leader of those who wish to destroy this universe. The Redeemer does not plan to kill or destroy his enemy. He wishes to heal him. And, to heal the universe soon after.

One difference here is that God's names aren't meaningless. At the name of Jesus every knee should bow and tongue confess that he is Lord of all. Yahweh not only was improper to say, but also improper to right because God's name is so holy. It bears with it the breath of life itself. Although, what we call the Lord may seem inconsequential, it builds on our understanding of him. He is the Lord of (Earthly and Heavenly) Hosts. He is the Good Shepherd (who had finally come to tend for his sheep, and will come again to collect them [Ez. 34]). He is the Christ (the anointed King). He is the Son of God. God's names bear meaning. They are all we have to describe how powerful and majestic He is. Although, they fail to meet the complete picture. They're all that we have to do it justice.

How awesome is it that he also knows us and will call us by our names?

Let's take a step back to Psalm 103:2-10 again. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good... The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.... He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities."

C.S. Lewis once called God the great physician. Although it might hurt, he's good at cutting away the disease, the illness of sin, and healing those who love him. He wants to heal us, don't be surprised if he takes any means necessary.

Jesus explains (in the book written be a physician [Luke 5:31]) that "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick." And, he personally followed through to rid the world of the disease (sin, death, the Devil) Himself.

In the way that He heals, he forgives our iniquity, even though we have brought it down on ourselves. He heals all of our diseases, if not on Earth then in Heaven. He redeems our life from the pit, he takes our souls that deserve to be condemned to Hell and delivers them to where we were made to live. His love, mercy, and goodness overwhelm us. He does not leave us where we are.

He's the hero of our tale.

We live in the Microverse, the universe plagued with sin and corruption. Sin is bigger than us. We need someone else who is a big as sin, perhaps bigger. Christ had come from some place bigger, like the Macroverse. And, his plan is to take us back with him. We are to live there because that had always been the place we had been meant for in the first place. It is a place without taint.

The only way for him to accomplish this was through his own bitter suffering and death. It was his sacrifice on the cross that had finally saved us all. And, his victory over death that is able to give us life.

Through his scars, we are healed.

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