Amazing Spider-Man #344
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man #344
OOoooh! Exciting! Thanks, Carnage fans, for driving up the price of this issue just for that. I hope it was worth it.
Of course this issue could also be in demand because it's the first time that we see Cardiac in action.
Naaaaaah! But that's what this issue is really about.
Cardiac is actually not a terrible character. He's the latest in a string of vigilantes, but he has an interesting backstory as Elias Wirtham, a doctor and the administrator of a hospital who is taking the law into his own hands.
But he's also a little cheesy in the sense that his name is Cardiac and his power is that he's basically a defibrillator.
He and Spider-Man come into conflict at a warehouse owned by Sapirdyne Chemicals that is being used to distribute chemicals that are legal in the US but are being sent to South America where they can be used in the processing of cocaine.
Spider-Man himself is a vigilante, and he's worked side by side with the Punisher on several occasions, so you'd think he'd just shrug his shoulders at a guy that wanted to destroy some chemicals that are going to be used to make drugs. Maybe take some pics for the Bugle. But instead Spider-Man gets a stick up his butt about this issue, and Cardiac causes an explosion and leaves.
The chemicals do wind up getting destroyed, and that gets attention from the person behind the distribution, Justin Hammer. Hammer sends in the Rhino, in his newly completed "retro-design battle suit".
Rhino's new suit has the same weird flashing mask power that the Scorpion had.
Rhino is defeated and Cardiac is able to destroy even more chemicals.
Hearing the news, Justin Hammer responds that Cardiac is the real problem and cryptically suggests putting Spider-Man on the payroll to go after him.
Quality Rating: B-
Historical Significance Rating: 3 - first Cletus Kasady (later Carnage). First full Cardiac.
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place after the Deadly Foes of Spider-Man mini-series (even though that was published afterwards).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showCardiac, Cletus Kasady (Carnage), Eddie Brock (Venom), Joy Mercado, Justin Hammer, Mary Jane Watson, Rhino, Spider-Man, Venom Symbiote
All that hype for one page of Cletus Cassidy? Seriously!? (eh, then again you mention similar things with the Hobgoblin stuff)
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 10, 2015 2:02 PM
It's not so surprising. Look up prices for Amazing-Spider Man 298. That features the first appearance (and cameo on the last page) by Eddie Brock (aka Venom). That issue goes for upwards of $30.00. And Venom was responsible for Carnage.
Posted by: clyde | September 10, 2015 2:16 PM
10 dollars!? Yes! My efforts are working! Now I'm going to try to get to 13 dollars because Carnage IZ TEH BESTE MARVEL VILLAIN OF AL TIME! GREEN GOBLIN AND DOC OCK AR SOOOOOO LAME AND GAY! VENOM AND CARNGE ARE COOL!
I remember reading an issue or two with Cardiac and I liked him. I think he looks cool, I like the power and the staff, I like his history. He's one hero I wouldn't mind seeing pop up again. Way way way better than a lot of 90s Marvel stuff.
Posted by: david banes | September 10, 2015 2:44 PM
david, there's a reason there was a 14 part storyline called "Maximum Carnage" and not any storyline called "Maximum Cardiac". He's a c-list hero at best, IMO. Carnage is Venom X infinity. He's crazy and unpredictable.
Posted by: clyde | September 10, 2015 3:03 PM
Oh yeah can't wait for Maximum Kharacter Carnage.
Posted by: david banes | September 10, 2015 5:16 PM
Like I said in the Deadly Foes entry, I still remember wondering how they fit the Rhino's new costume over his old one when this came out.
Posted by: Michael | September 10, 2015 7:55 PM
I see from that panel of Cletus and Eddie that Larsen kept MacFarlane's run of grotesquely-deformed faces and enormous eyebrows going.
Posted by: Bob | September 10, 2015 8:08 PM
Anyone else seeing the Joker in panel 2 of the first scan?
For what it's worth, I like Cardiac. I thought he looked cool and his being a black doctor seemed like an interesting choice. Whatever happened to him?
Posted by: Bill | September 10, 2015 8:43 PM
I liked Cardiac too. Good visual, and he seemed to have an interesting backstory. He's actually not much of a vigilante given he wants to protect life. He just is willing to break the law to go after bad guys. There have been plenty of other such heroes who eventually became mainstream. He's certainly no more "outlaw" than the X-Men. Given the weird shenanigans the X-Men have gone over the years away from that concept, I'd have been interested in a team of non-mutant "outlaw heroes" like Cardiac and Will O' Wisp.
Posted by: Chris | September 10, 2015 10:10 PM
We last saw him during Superior Spider-Man, where he had stopped being a vigilante and opened up an illegal clinic. At the end, he seemed to be arrested.
Posted by: Michael | September 10, 2015 10:10 PM
Huh! Years ago, my mother bought a Spider-Man comic that she said cost extra. I read it and told her she got ripped off. It was a Cardiac story.
Not until now did I realize there was a reason for the higher price.
But I still think she got ripped off.
Posted by: Mortificator | September 10, 2015 10:31 PM
I don't know if I had stopped buying, stopped reading, or simply stopped remembering these issues - but I rreally only became aware of Cardiac during the Superior Spider-Man arc. I think he's a cool character. Carnage has yet to make an impression on me.
Posted by: cullen | September 11, 2015 1:20 AM
Are American prisons so crowded they can't even put serials killers in separate cells?
Posted by: Berend | September 11, 2015 7:22 AM
Between this issue and Spider-Man #6-7 it is twice in nearby months that Spidey shows such disgusting tolerance for cocaine. Not a pleasant development.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | September 11, 2015 7:38 AM
Luis, I didn't see that at all- in Spider-Man 6-7, he left the cocaine on the sidewalk where he knew it would blow it away and in this issue he was worried that the people that might be hurt by Cardiac destroying the chemicals were legitimate employees of Hammer. He's not some sociopath that would, for example, goad Baron Strucker into attacking the Kingpin's legitimate businesses in order to hurt the Kingpin without caring if the janiors and secretaries in those buildings get killed. Who do you think he is, Matt Murdock?
Posted by: Michael | September 11, 2015 7:47 AM
Bill touched on this above, but Larsen seems to have almost-certainly modeled Cletus Kasady on the Joker. It makes a level of sense given the reasons for Carnage's creation, though -- someone as Chaotic Evil as the Joker could easily out-psycho the increasingly-moral Venom.
Posted by: TCP | September 11, 2015 10:59 AM
chris: I like Cardiac too, but unlike the X-Men (which I don't really read so by all means someone correct me if I'm off base here), Cardiac is willing to kill (and has done so), so long as he thinks said person being dead fulfills his definition of justice. In fact, that's usually a conflict he has with himself: contrasting Cardiac's belief that killing is sometimes necessary with Dr. Wirtham's Hippocratic Oath.
Posted by: mikrolik | September 20, 2015 8:22 PM
And to think, all I know about Carnage is that he will eventually get ripped in half and I only know that from reading TTT.
Posted by: Erik Beck | November 20, 2015 7:23 AM
Cardiac's powers are very similar to a much earlier David Michelinie character created at DC called Pulsar. Like Cardiac, he was a cyborg empowered by an artificial heart and used a staff to shoot energy blasts. He was also African-American, for what it's worth. Here is his second and final appearance.
No one one remembers him because he appeared in the utterly terrible Karate Kid series, a spinoff of the Legion of Super-Heroes that was one of DC's very, very clumsy answers to the Bruce Lee fad (and presumably Marvel books like Iron Fist and Master of Kung-Fu.)
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 28, 2015 10:45 PM
Given the fact that Cardiac is sort of a Punisher-type who goes after corporate criminals who he believes have used their money & influence to escape prosecution, and that he was co-created by David Michelinie, it's very surprising that he's never met Iron Man. It's such a natural fit. I could definitely see Cardiac either fighting with Iron Man due to some questionable business decision made by Stark Enterprises, or teaming up with him to take on Roxxon, which in the Marvel universe is the textbook definition of corporate evil.
Posted by: Ben Herman | August 15, 2016 1:49 PM
A lot of Michelinie's Spider-Man villains seem like repurposed Iron Man baddies.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | August 15, 2016 6:55 PM
Hello all, awesome site!
Building on Ben's comment about Cardiac not encountering Iron Man, I am also amazed Marvel has yet to put out a story of Cardiac going up against Daredevil.
Posted by: 1976mrk | February 8, 2017 1:42 PM
Omar, what other Michelinie Spider-Man villains are you referring to?
Posted by: Chris Cohen | February 10, 2017 7:41 PM
I'd point to Chance and the Life Foundation,the Trump parody "Trask," and Jonathan Caesar. And in the most literal sense, the use of Justin Hammer and a number of his operatives (Blacklash, for example). Chance is exactly the sort of hi-tech mercenary Iron Man might battle, and his civilian alter ego seems like a foil of sorts to TonyStark: a socialite with a gambling addiction to contrast Stark as the industrialist struggling against an alcohol addiction. And the Life Foundation, Trask, and Caesar are very much the sort of "corrupt rich guy" antagonists Michelinie used in his Iron Man run (Hamer, Edwin Cord, and so on).
More broadly, Michelinie tended to emphasize the weapons tech used by Spider-Man's villains, new and old. His take on the Scorpion is all about the gadgetry Gargan keeps having added to his tail, for example, and there's a general emphasis on the kind of "James Bond plot" -- rich, untouchable villain using colorful henchmen as assassins and operatives -- that Michelinie and Layton used in Iron Man rather than the more street-level Spider-Man stuff you'd expect.
I can't think of an organized crime storyline in Michelinie's run, for example, and those were the bread and butter of Spider-Man under most previous writers. It's all "villain using a new technology or augmenting their gear" stuff, or "corrupt rich dudes with a colorful pet operative who does the fighting." It's all very Iron Man to my eyes. The symbiotes are the big exception.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | February 10, 2017 9:36 PM
In fact, Jonathan Caesar's backstory involved him being a spoiled brat who murdered a sibling over a toy as a child- just like Kathy Dare in Michelinie's Iron Man.
Posted by: Michael | February 26, 2017 10:11 AM
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