Characters Appearing: Carnage Symbiote, Cletus Kasady (Carnage), Cloak, Dagger, Joe Smith, Rhino, Spider-Man
Amazing Spider-Man annual #28
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man annual #28
Man, the 14-part Maximum Carnage crossover really whet my appetite for some Carnage stories, but luckily we only had to wait less than a year for another one. I was worried that after achieving "Maximum" Carnage Marvel might be afraid of overexposing the villain, but thankfully that's not the case.
Cletus Kasady is being transported from the Vault to a facility in Seattle that might be able to expunge the Carnage symbiote from his blood. Kasady is bound in a device that is supposed to prevent him from cutting himself and exposing his blood to the air, which is what triggers his transformation to Carnage. But thanks to a pretty obvious design flaw (coupled with an idiot scientist who can't help taunting Kasady), he's able to escape.
And sure, Carnage murders the guards and scientists, but Spidey is waiting outside the transport vehicle with a big gun.
But Spidey is a two-time sucker.
Carnage escapes and goes to a scientist at a lumber company who has developed a way to extend wood by mixing it with "goop" and wood chips. Sounds like something Black Tom might be more interested in. But it turns out that Carnage is targeting the guy, Bill Bentine, because they used to know each other as kids. Bill actually covered for Cletus when Cletus did a prank at summer camp. Which might mean that Cletus would spare the guy, but instead, thanks to Carnage's "chaos" philosophy, it actually makes him a target. It also turns out that Bill has a gambling addiction and has been embezzling and planned to flee to Mexico. Spider-Man shows up to fight Carnage. Bill initially just tries to flee but has a change of heart and comes back to help Spidey (by tricking Carnage to transform into Cletus, making him vulnerable to Spider-Man's punch).
In the second story, Cloak and Dagger are busting up a drug ring, but Cloak is acting erratically. He doesn't say why, but we see that it's because he's mentally scarred after Dagger's seeming death (and return) during Maximum Carnage. Eventually it comes out, but the situation doesn't get resolved (and love you "like a brother" probably doesn't help either).
The next story features Just A Guy Named Joe from Amazing Spider-Man #38. Joe is working at an institution for special needs kids, but he's upset by the fact that the neighborhood is falling apart. When the institution gets broken into, graffitied, and robbed, Joe puts on his old costume and confronts the neighborhood thugs.
Joe doesn't do well against the gang, but the locals come out and help him.
In the final story, the Rhino is also dealing with break-ins.
Note that he's brought his family to the US. That's been a goal of his in recent appearances.
Of the items stolen, there was a locket of particular sentimental value, so he hunts it down.
Rhino's looking a little gaunt. I guess mom's home cooking doesn't work for a Rhino.
He gets the locket back, and also helps himself to some of the crooks' money. But his mom doesn't approve of that.
When i read this annual, i had forgotten that this year's annuals were supposed to be from the perspective of villains, and the story didn't do anything to remind me. If anything, it's from the perspective of Carnage's childhood friend Bill Bentine. But it just feels like a regular story. Which is fine. The villain theme in this year's annuals is very loose anyway. The real problem is just the repeated use of Carnage, especially after he was treated like an unstoppable threat in Maximum Carnage but is so easily disposed of here.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP have the main story taking place before Amazing Spider-Man #386. The Cloak & Dagger story should take place before they break up in New Warriors #51 and probably before their relationship starts showing signs of strain during Time and Time Again (circa New Warriors #48).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Terrible use of Carnage here. He goes from a massive 14 part event where the heroes need to defeat him twice just to stop him, to a one shot annual here. As a reader, you knew Spiderman would have to defeat him by the end of the comic, which really diminishes the threat and waters down the character. But this is the 90s so of course kewl extreme villain trumps all.
Posted by: Bonez | March 30, 2018 1:47 PM
I think this was the best Carnage story since his debut 3-parter, and that his threat level here's just what it should be. He's the same kind of being as Venom, birthed by Venom. If anything, Carnage should be less of a combat challenge to Spider-Man than Papa V, who knows Spidey intimately and was geared entirely toward killing him.
As for Maximum Carnage...
Speaking of story, Maximum Carnage has Spider-Man constantly tut-tut other's desire to kill Carnage, while Carnage goes on violently slaughtering bystanders. In contrast, I liked how this story shows Spider-Man have a visceral reaction to people being killed, responding with lethal rage before his mind catches up to him.
On a completely unrelated note, when have the Avengers ever used a "thermo-cannon"?
Posted by: Mortificator | March 30, 2018 3:44 PM
I actually like the Carnage story, because it actually attempts to give Kasady some characterization beyond Maximum Carnage. He actually said that killing random people got predictable, so he targeted his childhood friend because that was the opposite of what was expected. Then he said he was disappointed in Bill because he turned out to be embezzling, which ironically helped Bill see the light by the end of the story. Maybe it was too soon after Maximum Carnage, but the story did seem different and surprising.
Posted by: mikrolik | March 30, 2018 4:31 PM
I recently reread this in anticipation for the review and I'll give it a slight praise. It's about as good as a 90's Spider-Man story with Carnage was gonna get (Okay, maybe that's damning with feint praise but still).
Posted by: iLegion | March 30, 2018 8:24 PM
I agree that this story isn't hall of fame, but is pretty solid, especially if one has low expectations. The ending is mildly clever too--they trick Carnage into turning to Kasady to make him vulnerable to a Spidey punch.
Posted by: Michael Cheyne | March 30, 2018 9:17 PM
There was another nice aspect to the ending- Carnage is convinced that even though Spider-Man saved Bill, it doesn't matter, since Bill will always be looking over his shoulder all his life but in reality Bill has returned the money he embezzled and joined Gamblers Anonymous. Carnage is too corrupt to realize that people like Bill can change.
Posted by: Michael | March 30, 2018 11:04 PM
The sad thing is, that almost makes Carnage more of a three-dimensional character, as his characterization beforehand amounted to little more than, "laws are an illusion, chaos rules." He's actually thinking about another person in terms that don't involve killing him (at the moment).
Posted by: iLegion | April 1, 2018 12:11 AM
I agree with the comments on this board in that this is an actually decent Carnage story. It is the only Carnage story I liked other than the original 3-parter. . Carnage is ridiculously overpowered to be a Spidey villain; not only does he have 3-times Spidey's strength, he has all of his powers AND has even more powers such as using his entire body as a weapon such as grappling, shooting projectiles and so on. A fight between an unarmed Spider-Man and Carnage shouldn't last more than a few seconds in Carnage's favour. How Carnage was defeated in this story was actually clever. And the fight was entertaining even though David Michelinie was holding back Carnage to give Spider-Man some licks.
Still, I hate Carnage as a recurring character. Even though it is just fictional, I find it offensive that anyone would allow an unrepentent murderer remain alive, especially a very powerful one. It is plausible that some morally-bankrupt governmental officials would want to keep Carnage alive in order to harness the power of the symbiote. But in this story, they actually want to destroy the symbiote and keep Kasady alive. Of what value is keeping Kasady alive if you don't want to use the symbiote?
Posted by: OptimusFan | April 2, 2018 11:31 AM
Furthermore, the security was awful. Why weren't the Gaurdmen not packing the same heat weapons that Spider-Man was packing in the possibility that Kasady and the symbiote could somehow bond again and escape? Heck, why not even ask Firestar or the Human Torch to tag along just in case? Why didn't Spider-Man just shoot Carnage with the weapon instead of boasting how clever he was, giving Carnage time to react? Two policemen were murdered because of Spidey's incompetence.
Spider-Man doesn't look good in this story. That is a shame.
Posted by: OptimusFan | April 2, 2018 11:34 AM
Seeing this annual as a kid after Maximum Carnage is what first made me realize that even characters I liked (and I did enjoy Carnage) could be overused.
Posted by: Thanos6 | April 2, 2018 4:48 PM
I think all of this point sup an underlying problem with Carnage:L the appeal is supposed to be that he's a horror-movie villain, a mad slasher that can't be stopped. That works fine in horror, where the killer is essentially the "main" character and everyone else is a victim. It's less effective in a superhero comic, where Our Hero has to win and save the day, so the villain can't be relentless and invincible for long or the hero looks ineffectual.And a sa supervillain, Carnage is undermotivated: a nice visual, but no real theme other than homicidal mania, and thus none of the potential for variations on a theme you get with the better Batman villains or even with Marvel characters like Mister Hyde or the Vulture.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | April 2, 2018 5:20 PM
For a good Carnage story, I recommend the Spider-Man prose novel CARNAGE IN NEW YORK by Michelinie and Dean Wesley Smith. Carnage is truly terrifying there.
Posted by: Thanos6 | April 4, 2018 6:39 AM
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