VENOM & SPIDER-MAN versus CARNAGE
The Hatred, The Horror And The Hero: Maximum Carnage Chapter 14, Part 2 (Marvel comics)
Where: Spider-man Unlimited #2 When: August 1993
Why: Tom DeFalco How: Ron Lim
The story so far...
The assembled might of Spider-man, Venom, Black Cat, Captain America, Iron Fist, Deathlok, Cloak, Dagger, Morbius and Nightwatch has finally broken up the reign of terror perpetrated by the Carnage Family, but the fight has not yet been won!
Carnage has escaped death once more, but Venom remains dedicated to hunting down the symbiote spawn of his own alien costume, and destroying it, with or without Spider-man's approval.
Spidey's sense of responsibility brings him to the fight, but as Cletus Kasady becomes further detached from reality, Spidey cannot escape the pull of pity, feeling a responsibility to protect Carnage from Venom's lethal objectives.
Has Spidey done the ultimate good, or sealed his fate by stepping into the crossfire of two of his most powerful enemies? Stay tuned!
Spider-man (#1): Victorious in team-ups against Blacklash, The Secret Avengers, Dr. Dorcus, Tigershark, The Trapster, The Wizard, Mysterio, Atlantis & Elektra and The Hand.
Black Cat (#43): Instrumental in the final defeat of the Venom Symbiote, after it possessed Thor.
Venom (#97): Has had inconclusive battles with Iron Man & Quicksilver and The Flash.
Carnage: Has not yet been featured on the site.
Tale of the tape...
Strength: Venom 5 (Super Strength)
Intelligence: Spider-man 5 (Professor)
Speed: Spider-man 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Carnage 5 (Marathon Man)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-Like)
Fighting Ability: Carnage 3 (Street Wise)
Energy Powers: Draw 2 (Projectile Weapons)
If there was ever a time to question the validity of the fabled Haseloff system, it might be now, true believers! What we're faced with here is one of the strongest cases of the Tombstone factor ever seen on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths.
It might not be enough to tear the internet in half, it might not even change the status quo of the site forever, but it will make for an interesting tape analysis!
I am, of course, referring to Carnage, who made his name with not one, but two major stories that brought together mortal enemies, Spider-man and Venom, in an alliance of common enemies. Such is the value of Carnage, who, despite being statistically on par with Venom, manages to play considerably higher than his weight class.
Carnage brings your basic symbiote abilities to the table. Though he traditionally resigns himself to the red symbiote, he has control over the costume in the same way Eddie Brock always has, allowing for quick changes and retractions.
Unlike Venom, Cletus Kasady favours solid structures over brute strength. Carnage regular morphs his hands into talons, extending jagged structures, and often a giant double-edged axe.
Despite a physique more reminiscent of Spider-man, Carnage still packs a powerful wallop. He challenges even Venom, who is traditionally measured as a fraction stronger than Spider-man himself. This combination of svelt speed, strength and agility makes Carnage a powerful adversary.
Together Spider-man and Venom cover most of those bases. Even so, Carnage continues to represent a fairly major threat during this time period, garnering team-ups between the mortal enemies that are Spidey and Venom not only for Maximum Carnage, but also another team-up previous!
The Math: Venom/Spider-man/Black Cat
The Pick: Venom/Spider-man/Black Cat
What went down...
Having made his escape from Venom and Spider-man, the psychotic Cletus Kasady [that's Carnage to you or I, thank you very much!] returns to places familiar to his own demented childhood. Venom is one the scene to interrupt an episode between Carnage and the ghosts of bullies past, smashing his way through the window as Carnage cries his name in emotional agony.
Venom comes in swinging, clearly riding the momentum gained over Carnage's past few encounters with the heroes. Despite his best efforts to cut the black symbiote down with an axe formation, Venom is easily able to leap the attack, and counter, using his webbing to rip a floor board up and into Carnage's face.
Dazed, Carnage makes his claim as master of death before the wall that bares his name, written in the blood of his victims. Venom laughs in his face, and throws a mighty punch that sends Carnage crumbling through the wall.
Venom snatches at his counterpart's own tendrils, making threats on the various ways he can end his life, when an unlikely savior comes to Carnage's rescue -- Spider-man! Spidey makes his dramatic entrance, colliding with a kick to Venom's back.
Venom attacks Spidey in a rage over his interference. He turns his lethal justice on Spider-man, asking him if he's willing to sacrifice his own life to stand in the way of justice for Carnage.
Spidey dances around Venom's wild punches and swipes, in the same way he verbally dodges the question, as Venom explains the deep personal responsibility he feels for Carnage's creation.
Venom is stunned in his tracks, when Spider-man relates the feelings to much the same way he regards Venom to himself.
At this moment of revelation, Venom is calm enough to notice that Carnage has made his exit under cover of the distraction. Spider-man and Venom again put aside their differences, in agreement that Carnage at the very least needs to be found and contained, regardless of whose methods win the day.
Taking to the city skyline, the web-slinging allies take little time following the screams of innocent citizens to a cemetary below. Down below, they find Carnage using his symbiote manifestations to dig up his deceased mother, believing her to be the only one who won't turn him away in his hour of need.
Venom is unrelenting in his verbal assault of Carnage, which only serves to inspire a new resolve. Carnage lashes out with his symbiote, eventually finding Venom in the talonous claws of his extended hands. Overcome by the strength of a madman, Venom again finds himself in debt to Spider-man, who fires webbing into Carnage's eyes to provide distraction sufficient enough for Venom to free himself with a stiff punch.
Spider-man again interferes in Venom's attack, enforcing his own morals once more on the lethal protector. This time they aren't strong enough to break through Venom's self-righteous charge. He throws a devestating left, that rattles Carnage as it sends him hurtling down to the Earth.
Venom taunts Carnage, remarking on the luck that he didn't accidentally swat him all the way through the back fence of the cemetary into some nearby generators. Using his own tendrills he hunches over Carnage and lifts him by the throat, announcing his intentions to draw out the agony for every life lost.
At this point Spider-man intervenes with more force, leaping between the two symbiote-powered killers to push them apart with his own super-strength.
With Carnage clearly in the weakest of his mental states, Spider-man asks Venom if vengeance is really what's needed, and if it isn't time they felt pity for a man who has clearly been broken for a long time. Spidey appeals to Venom's inner humanity, calling to him to bury his own demons through peaceful means, before becoming as bad as Carnage himself.
Spider-man is probably starting to rethink his empassioned speech as stringy red tenderils wrap around his throat. The red symbiote, like his black predecessor, negates Spidey's spider-senses and drags him back by the throat declaring, "I am... Therefore I kill!"
With that, he tosses Spider-man across the graveyard like a ragdoll. By a bizarre stroke of fate, he comes to land between the graves of Norman and Harry Osborn. No wonder the place looked so familiar...
Carnage flies through the air with his hand in the shape of a blade, calling for 'one for the road' before Venom takes him down. All seems lost, until...
... The Black Cat comes out of nowhere, slamming into the back of Carnage in much the same fashion as Spidey's big entrance earlier in the piece!
Having withdrawn from the hunt for Carnage earlier in the piece, citing her own selfish reasons, Black Cat is a pleasant surprise in what had again devolved into a personal struggle between the spider-characters.
Sick of opposition, Carnage makes for his mother's coffin, deciding the advantage of numbers was cause enough to cut his losses and make a retreat. In his haste, he doesn't even notice that he's running directly into the path of Venom's ample fist.
Venom follows the shattering blow with an uppercut, and follows that yet again with an overhanded punch directly to Carnage's head! As he beats the living snot out of his spawn, Venom waxes on Spider-man's words, debating whether or not Carnage was worthy of vengeance or protection, but in the end, justice calls.
Despite all the talk of torture, and the thirst for bitter revenge, Venom makes one final play for a definitive conclusion to the saga endured over the past weeks. He charges at the stunned Carnage, taking advantage of his false securities, and heads straight for the nearby generators.
The resulting explosion reduces the scene to a bustling inferno, as Spider-man and Black Cat watch-on in shock. Amidst the flames they spy the silhouette of a person, and manage to drag the naked, burned body of Cletus Kasady, whose living symbiote, vulnerable to flame, is nowhere to be seen.
With Eddie Brock nowhere in sight, Black Cat suggests they look for Venom, but quickly follows that if he doesn't want to be found, he'll easily blend into the surroundings. At that moment, a truck leaves the area, carrying in the back a weakened man with a black symbiote, that fades to less conspicuous duds.
I'm going to give the sole victory to Venom here, with the strong assist going to Spider-man and Black Cat. I just don't think you could say Spidey had enough of an impact there to really impress on the result. Maybe if he'd tried killing Carnage, he'd have the stat...
So, this was a bit of a hurdle of an update, given the enormity of it. Though the summary might not have run hugely over the normal entry, the story itself takes place over a good many more pages than even the New Avengers taking on The Hand. [New Avengers #27]
Given the updates we haven't exactly capitalized on the release, but if you're still with us, you might need to be reminded that Web-slinging Wednesdays are dedicated to the villains of the Spider-man 3 movie. This feature, despite also containing a red hot dose of Carnage, is of course to represent the Eddie Brock Venom present in the movie. That's opposed to the Mac Gargan Venom, you'd currently be reading about in the pages of Marvel comics like Thunderbolts.
It's fast approaching 2am as I try to make a last ditch effort before being tied up with dentist appointments again, so I'm at a bit of a loss for words again.
It's interesting to look over the Maximum Carnage story, and how important it is in so many different ways to so many different types of fans. For a lot of casual readers it remains one of the most memorable crossover stories, be they familiar through the thirteen issues of comic themselves, or the hugely successful video game spin-off of the time.
I myself regard both quite highly. For some readers it seems it was a period in which many were infamously 'not reading at the time', which seems to be accompanied by the odd sneer toward the symbiote characters, and the following Clone Saga. Certainly there are criticisms worthy of both stories, but in the long run, I'd like to think Maximum Carnage is exactly what it set out to be -- a damn fun and interesting read.
It was perhaps a story let down by the glut of similar efforts that came out of Marvel around the same time. It must have been less than a year later that things like Spirits of Vengeance and various other stories kicked off, that brought the unlikely, but ever extreme team-ups of characters like Ghost Rider, Venom and Demogoblin to the pages of various comics.
I'm not terribly well versed in a lot of these subsequent stories, but I'd like to think even they have their merit. I guess maybe I'm just a little nostalgic for the days when a wider bredth of characters were regularly featuring across the multitude of titles printed by Marvel comics. This touches back on some of the things discussed in our last review. [Beyond! #3]
Rest assured you'll see more instalments from Maximum Carnage in the future. I really want to get Morbius into the rankings so bad, it's actually a little bit sad, believe me. But, in the mean time, I should probably be heading to bed!
I'd love to be caught back up before the release of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, but we'll see how we go. Otherwise, stay tuned! Some big things coming at the end of the month in the Punch-Up, plus the remaining entries in the special five-week Web-Slinging Wednesday series!
The Fight: 4.5 The Issue: 6