Friday, December 22, 2006

Maximum Carnage: Carnage Rising (Marvel comics)
Spider-man Unlimited #1 When: May 1993
Why: Tom DeFalco How: Ron Lim

The story so far...
Cletus Kasady was supposed to be locked away in Ravencroft maximum security prison where he couldn't harm anyone, but for a man like Carnage you can take the man out of the symbiote, but not the symbiote out of the man.

Slaughtering his way through security and psychiatric staff Carnage picks himself a dame up on the way, in the form of the equally homcidal and psychotic - Shriek.

Their swooping freedom in New York City sees them quickly running afoul a mindless wandering doppelganger of Spider-man, and after he puts up a brave fight against Carnage, Shriek convinces her murderous beau to adopt him.
Thus, the sicko Brady Bunch begin their reign of Maximum Carnage.

Previous Form:
Spider-man (#2): Spider-man has victories over team-ups including the Secret Avengers and Dr. Dorcas & Tigershark.
Shriek: Shriek has not yet been featured on the site.
Doppelganger: Doppelganger has not been featured, either.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Doppelganger 5 (Super Strength)
Intelligence: Spider-man 5 (Professor)
Speed: Spider-man 4 (Olympic Sprinter)
Stamina: Spider-man 4 (Trained Athlete)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting Ability: Spider-man 3 (Street Wise)
Energy Powers: Shriek 5 (Arsenal)

In this opening chapter of the fourteen-part crossover, Spidey finds himself pretty lucky. Even though it's Carnage's first big night on the town, he only has to deal with Doppelganger and Shriek straight up. Sweet!

Okay, let's look at the facts; Doppelganger is exactly what he says he is. A sinister reflection of Spider-man, possessing all of his strength, speed and agility, as well as a few nasty added bonuses -- like razor sharp teeth; barbed razor webbing; six arms, each equipped with three taloned fingers; the ability to survive at least one or two deaths; PLUS he drools!

Sure, this guy sounds like a glorified Venom, but as a mystically touched drone from the Magus' Infinity War, he's one of the few evil reflections to stick around and do some damage.

One on one Spidey has trouble with Doppelganger -- add Shriek into the equation, and things start to get a little tricky for the web-slinger.
With powers that revolve around sound based energy attacks, Shriek has the long range attack to compliment Doppelganger's strong and agile frontal assault.

Though a tall order, Spidey's keys to victory are pretty simple.
Shriek's relative strength and fighting ability is quite low, which renders her fairly easily incapacitated given the opportunity.
The difficulty is in shaking Doppelganger off long enough to actually render such an attack, whilst also then having to fight him off as well.

Ultimately Spidey, as the hero, has a certain edge here, but as a pairing these two villains pack more punch than they may be griven credit for!

Average: Spider-man 28 (+7)
Overall: Shriek & Doppelganger 42 (+14)
The Pick: Spider-man

What went down...
Having heard about the Ravencroft massacre on the radio whilst picking up Chinese food, Spidey swings into action to set out to find the man he believes responsible - Carnage!

Whilst swinging through the city his spidey-sense go completely berserk, narrowly gifting him the advance warning to leap away from a sonic blast ripping through the sky.
On the rooftop below, Shriek stands waiting with Doppelganger wasting no time, jumping straight on the offensive with drool offending aplenty!

Doppelganger's simplistic aggression sees him landing face first, but he is quickly back up and on the offensive again, swinging wildly at the agile Spidey with two arms. His attack again backfires, as the demonic mirror image lunges straight into Spidey's fisting, suffering a jaw shattering uppercut.

Spidey follows it up with a flying face kick, but the Doppelganger recovers shockingly fast and uses the close quarters attack to launch his own offensive, connecting with two hard fists to the mid-section.

Struggling for air, Spidey goes for a desperation move by webbing the feet of the charging Doppelganger, buying him time as face again connects with ground.

Shriek comes to the aid of her new 'pet', firing off a blast at Spider-man, who narrowly avoids it with an acrobatic leap.

As Mary-Jane learns of Peter's fate via the television news, Spidey dodges another sonic blast, connecting with a swinging left across the gnashing chops of the Doppelganger.

Shriek adds a new threat to the mix, barking orders to the Doppelganger.
Spidey webs him up, but again the numbers game gets the better of him as he barely escapes a high power blast from the femme fatale.

Using his spider-like agility he leaps his way through a barrage of blasts, leaving a trail of destruction on the building wall behind him, before narrowing in for a knock-out strike. A simple extended finger is enough, at speed, to knock Shriek out cold.

Though one danger is pacified, Spider-man leaves himself completely open to attack from his diabolical dubplicate!
The blaring warning of his spider-senses matter not, as Doppelganger swoops in with full force booting Spidey in the mid-section, sending him toppling over the edge of the building!

Spidey hits a wall hard before crash-landing in the alley below.

With a childlike concern for Shriek, Doppelganger opts to take the onconscious villainess to safety. Though he would like to pursue, Spidey is in no shape to do so, falling to unconsciousness as he clutches badly damaged ribs.

The hammer...
The autonomous Doppelganger wins, with the assist going to Shriek! Which, for those playing along at home, means we can start to make certain assumptions about the top five characters for 2006.
Stay tuned for that in the January 2007 punch-up!

Meanwhile, am I the only person who finds it utterly bizarre when considering that this comic is fourteen years old? My mind boggles when considering Maximum Carnage happened before many enthusiasts even started reading.

Maximum Carnage of course is a storyline many fans new, old and indifferent are aware of. If not through the comics, certainly the popular side scrolling beat 'em up video game brought the storyline to fans, complete with some panel artwork from this very issue, along with several others. Ah, the age before FMVs!

Contrary to Acclaim's claims on the release of the Ultimate Spider-man video game, it was Maximum Carnage that first placed the role of Venom in the hands of the gamer. Even following it up with the symbiot-centric sequel, Seperation Anxiety. SHAME, Acclaim!

The saga itself reads very much like a videogame plot, featuring a range of unlikely characters over various encounters and locations. Gamers will probably be relatively well versed in the story, even if they didn't even touch an issue of Amazing.

Like the previously featured saga of '93, Fatal Attractions, this ranks as one of my fond memories of the nineties. Despite it's over stretched presentation and ridiculous cast of characters, Maximum Carnage has a free flowing fun factor that recent stories like House of M or Civil War have clearly lacked.
Let's be honest, who isn't a little aroused by the notion of Iron Fist, Morbius, Captain America and Deathlok all on the same team? That's completely ignoring the more central roles of Venom and Black Cat, too!

Comics trends send the industry down the shitter... SPWAT!Certainly books like this had their negative points, and owe a great deal to encouraging even lesser counterparts through their popularity.
It's this unfortunate downward spiral that has largely tainted the nineties in the memory of the comic book reader, blurring the lines between the good [Maximum Carnage] and the bad [Maximum Clonage].

Only now are characters caught in this wave recovering, but I'm glad they are.
Deathlok had a significant return in Beyond!, Morbius popped up in Ultimate Spider-man, albeit in a paper wasting pathetic two-parter, and even the massively whored Venom and Ghost Rider, characters who shared status with Spider-man and Wolverine, are returning to prominence.

Comics seem to be cyclical and certainly we've returned to a mixed bag of good and bad crossover activity, largely perpetuated I believe by DC's tremendous efforts on Infinite Crisis and it's related initiatives. Structure that has not only facilitated fairly expansive crossover activity, but more importantly weaved a cohesive and well thought-out net over the entire universe.

But to the credit of all sides, at least briefly forgotten or discarded characters are recovering, and getting dues they haven't seen in decades.
As should be the motto of this blog -- continuity isn't the problem. Your face is.

And yes. I changed my point several times throughout the course of this post.
Now... Let me tell you about my Namor pitch...

The Fight: 4 The Issue: 6.5

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