Spider-Man Unlimited #2
Issue(s): Spider-Man Unlimited #2
This is the final chapter of Maximum Carnage. After everyone else thought that Carnage was defeated, he returns to face Spider-Man and Venom, both of whom are wounded.
It's said that the body we saw last issue was really one of Carnage's victims covered in "a mock-symbiote suit".
Venom manages to get the best of Carnage, who runs off.
Spider-Man says that they ought to bring back Captain America and the others, but Venom punches him in his injured rib, saying that he's tired of allies that won't go for the kill. Spider-Man staggers off to call the poorly drawn 1990s Avengers (narration is from a little later, continuing Peter Parker's father's weird sub thread)...
...and then call Mary Jane, who can bring him some civilian clothes so that he can go to the emergency room.
Meanwhile, Venom deduces that Carnage will return to the prison cell where they both were once held, and they fight there and then at the orphanage where Carnage was raised. Spider-Man shows up, again stopping Venom from killing Carnage, who escapes. Spider-Man shocks Venom by saying that the way Venom feels about Carnage is the way Spidey feels about Venom.
But it doesn't change Venom's mind about killing Carnage. They next find him at a graveyard, digging up his mom's corpse for solace (the coffin will later turn out to be empty). Spidey argues that Carnage is now completely over the bend, not responsible for his actions ("if he ever was"). But Venom is unpersuaded, and wants not only to kill him but to torture him first.
Even Carnage doesn't think much of Spider-Man's argument.
Spidey is helped out by the return of the Black Cat, who had been sitting out a portion of this story in fear after getting injured.
And Venom keeps pounding away.
Carnage really just doesn't seem to be the invulnerable threat that he started as.
But ultimately Venom decides to spare Carnage. He tosses himself and Carnage into a power generator. Carnage is knocked out. Venom sneaks away.
The Avengers finally show up in the aftermath.
And that, at last, is it. Although the Black Cat does say that monsters like Carnage always have a way of returning, which is true.
I mentioned early in this story that we saw some vestigial signs that there was some kind of meta theme intended to run through this story about the Daily Bugle publishing things relating to Carnage, and the parallel with Marvel. And in this issue we have this:
It's really rich coming from Tom DeFalco, Marvel's Editor in Chief.
There's also a brief scene with Morbius and Nightwatch parting ways, with Morbius saying that he knows that Nightwatch is wondering if whether the next time they'll meet it'll be as friend or foe. I know that wasn't on the top of my mind.
Since i've been mostly down on this event, let me repeat some of the positives: i think the artists manage really well with the slew of characters. If it were Todd McFarlane drawing this story, it would have really been a disaster. As i click through the entries and look at the scans, i'm also finding it hard to not be excited to see all the characters. Like, i'm questioning myself: "Why wasn't this fun? Am i just cranky?". But then i remember that it's 14 parts, there's no characterization, and there's an endless pontificating on the question of using lethal force that ends with the cheesiest ending in history of actually shooting the bad guys with love. I also want to be clear that when i talk about all the killing that Carnage does, i'm not moralizing. I don't think it's wrong to have a bad guy that is a psychotic killer. Handled correctly, that could be really tense and interesting. But it's not handled anywhere close to correctly here. There's no realism. It's cartoon violence dressed up as something new, and it has no impact.
The second story in this issue is by Kurt Busiek, so i want to give it more attention, but i'm all burnt out. The story is about an Australian actor who has super-powers and loves to make movie references and is pursued by government agents.
And he's definitely nuts.
Spider-Man tries to convince Megawatt to give himself up, but the untimely arrival of the police cause him to freak out and he runs away.
There's some good humor in the story around the movie references (Megawatt says it would be "a violation of story logic" if the police didn't connect him with a shoplifting charge from when he was a kid) and a fun use of Marvel history (see References), and it does bring up the overall value of this issue. But i've just read 14 issues of Maximum Carnage and need to go lie down.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is the fourteenth and final part of Maximum Carnage.
Crossover: Maximum Carnage
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAunt May, Black Cat, Carnage Symbiote, Cletus Kasady (Carnage), Eddie Brock (Venom), Flash Thompson, Liz Allan, Mary Jane Watson, Mary Parker Duplicate, Morbius, Nightwatch, Normie Osborn, Richard Parker Duplicate, Sersi, Spider-Man, Thunderstrike, Venom Symbiote, Vision
I always thought the Kangaroo had some mutant quirk developed by living with the kangaroos but it was Harrow who actually gave him the "super" leaping powers. To use an inelegant example, Normal Person X develops the ability to run like Usain Bolt by hanging out with Usain Bolt but then is given super speed by someone else.
Posted by: Michael Cheyne | October 26, 2016 2:50 PM
I wondered about this too when i saw Busiek say that Harrow gave Kangaroo his powers. But if you look at his first appearance, i mean that is some serious leaping. Granted it could non-super super-powers like the Enforcers. But it seems more like Kangaroo got his leaping abilities by hanging with Usian Boltaroo and then Harrow made them better. Why else would Harrow seek him out specifically?
And now i think we've given more thought to the Kangaroo than anyone else on Earth. ;-)
Posted by: fnord12 | October 26, 2016 3:19 PM
Judging from his description I don't think Megawatt has seen Two-Lane Blacktop either.
Posted by: Red Comet | October 26, 2016 3:20 PM
I guess "making them better" to me means going past the normal power to superpower level (keeping in mind that "normal power" in the Marvel universe is weird).
Did Megawatt ever return? This was the only part of Maximum Carnage I owned as a kid under the cheapo belief that you were to own one part, you should own the last. So I read the Megawatt story a lot.
Posted by: Mike Cheyne | October 26, 2016 3:23 PM
This is Megawatt's only appearance.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 26, 2016 3:33 PM
And so... it's finally over. Phew.
I'd risk saying that the only remotely positive thing that came out of this mess of a story was the introduction of Shriek. I admit, I liked her :)
Posted by: Piotr W | October 26, 2016 4:12 PM
Thank goodness Marvel learned its lesson and never did any more overlong Spidey crossover stories that everyone hated!
Posted by: Andrew L Furdell | October 26, 2016 5:08 PM
I think ol Kurt might have been particularly drawn to the infamous Superman IV: The Quest for Peace there.
What are the behind-the-scenes specs on this one? I know around this time there was a big "push" from editorial/and or marketing to artificially extend crossovers (i.e. what would normally be a four-issue arc suddenly gets stretched to twelve.) For example a few OTHER crap Spider-Man events (Hi, Clone Saga!) get lengthened to to editorial demand and fan reaction.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | October 26, 2016 8:05 PM
I might be in the minority, but I actually enjoyed this crossover. I'm a huge fan of storylines continuing through multiple books of related titles. I know this isn't up to the level of "Operation: Galactic Storm", but it was nice to see who rallied around Spider-Man.
Posted by: clyde | October 26, 2016 8:41 PM
Numerous readers (including myself) couldn't stand when DeFalco had Spider-Man call Carnage "the most innocent of us all" in this story because he was abused as a child. The people that Carnage killed were actually innocents who just got in his way. Carnage is just a psycho. The problem with the tropes that being abused automatically turns someone into a killer- which is what this story implies with both Carnage and Shriek- is that it sends the message that VICTIMS of abuse
Posted by: Michael | October 26, 2016 9:06 PM
...are monsters, when most of them are just trying to live their lives.
Posted by: Michael | October 26, 2016 9:06 PM
@Michael: Agreed one hundred percent. For someone who is always talking about how with great power their must also come great responsibility, Spider-Man is basically absolving Carnage of any responsibility for his crimes. Yeah, I'm sorry that Cletus Kasady had a horrible childhood, but that doesn't give him a free pass to murder dozens of innocents. And it's insulting to say that Carnage isn't responsible for his actions. From a psychological standpoint Kasady is probably insane, but from a legal standpoint he certainly is not, because he obviously can tell the difference between right & wrong.
Posted by: Ben Herman | October 26, 2016 10:12 PM
While I hate the 'most innocent is all' comment I actually rather like this issue with it mostly being just Spider-Man and two psychos after masses of characters.
Posted by: davidbanes | October 27, 2016 3:26 AM
Carnage is such an annoying character. He is literally the Joker with super-powers. Seriously, Erik Larsen acknowledged that he based Cletus Kasady on the Joker. Kasady was a mass-murdering serial killer BEFORE he bonded with a symbiote. Since then how many hundreds of people has he murdered? Hundreds? Carnage is one of those characters who makes the whole “Heroes don’t kill” argument look completely asinine. No matter how many times Carnage gets defeated and locked up, he ALWAYS escapes and kills more people.
Anyway, I'll shut up now.
Posted by: Ben Herman | October 27, 2016 1:58 PM
Er...Ben you know that Batman refuses to kill the REAL Joker (whp has done things that make this mad spree lookmlike a birthday party). Why would a "nicer" hero then rush to kill of the "wannabe" version?
And of course, this will not be the first time Spidey spares the live of an "irredeemable" psychotic killer (Dan Slott even makes a big subplot/overarching arc out of it both with Spider-man and the Doc Ock impersonation.)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | October 28, 2016 1:51 AM
A last panel cameo by the Punisher blowing Carnage's head off would have redeemed this comic. They want to act so edgy and xtreme but it's ultimately a farce.
Posted by: Superb Owl | October 29, 2016 4:17 AM
The real lesson of this story is that the Avengers are slackers. "Yeah, sorry we weren't here to, y'know, stop one of the biggest murder sprees in history. At least we brought a stasis chamber. Oh, sure, he'll probably break out again next month or something after we let him out of it so he can go back to a facility he's already busted out of at least once. But that's a problem for Future New York!"
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 29, 2016 7:30 AM
I mean, c'mon! Sersi is *right there*! You can;y come up with *any* sort of solution that, say extracts the symbiote or something? Nobody's calling in Reed Richards to figure out how to hold this guy more securely?
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 29, 2016 7:33 AM
@Jon Dubya: Yes, you are correct, and that is why for the last 20 years I have refused to buy pretty much any comic book story featuring the Joker. I very quickly got sick of having some writer having the Joker escape from Arkham Asylum, go on a mass killing spree, eventually be defeated by Batman or some other hero, and get shipped back to his cell in Arkham, only for another writer to have him escape six months later and for the whole routine to once again repeat itself.
Posted by: Ben Herman | October 29, 2016 11:07 AM
Was the Maximum Carnage storyline the turning point where there began a blasé attitude in the comic industry toward murdering villians that then get let off lightly with no consequences to their actions? I know the Joker started murdering people back in 1971 with the "Joker's Five-War Revenge", and Sabretooth but this storyline seems unique because of the higher-than normal body count with death and destruction being gleefully shown and celebrated and yet Carnage and his gang did not get the justice they deserve at the end of this storyline apart from Doppelganger who was murdered by Carnage. Carnage is right up there with Lobo and Thanos as pure mass murdering villains that get a free pass. It seems after this storyline, it became fashionable to show villains being more evil in their actions. The Joker himself became the ultimate evil after this storyline.
Posted by: OptimusFan | December 11, 2016 11:43 AM
The other problem, of course, is that in comic books (especially these days) even killing mass-murdering criminals doesn't actually get rid of them once and for all. Even if this ended with...say Carnage being ripped apart in space, he would have been whole and hearty again with sadistic glee right in time for the next "event."
In addition killing these people always seem to be gateway to a dystopia (we HAVE seen plenty of stories where Batman or Spider-man or someone DOES kill off the unreedemable psychopath. It always ends with some Aesop about "slippery slopes" with the heroes being one step above "super-facist" or something. Or at least an obligatory "you're no better than them" speech.)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | December 11, 2016 2:18 PM
I'm guessing that it was about this time that comic companies decided that Sociopathic Junior High School Kids Who Hate Everyone And Want To Kill Everybody were a highly desirable demographic.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 11, 2016 6:17 PM
Comments are now closed.
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