Friday, September 2, 2011

WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #101 - June 1993

Dark Light- Maximum Carnage Part Two

Credits: Terry Kavanagh (writer), Alex Saviuk (penciler), Don Hudson (inker), Steve Dutro (letterer), Bob Sharen (colorist)

The Plot: Following an attack by Carnage’s followers, Spider-Man is aided by Cloak and Dagger. Soon, their church hideout is invaded by Carnage, Shriek, and Doppelganger. During the battle, Dagger is apparently killed by Shriek’s light blast. The villains escape while Spider-Man and Cloak recover.

The Subplots: A distraught MJ attempts to comfort Liz Osborn. Robbie Robertson and Jonah Jameson debate whether or not to release Carnage’s message for Spider-Man and Venom. Demogoblin stalks Doppelganger, intrigued by the darkness within him. In San Francisco, Venom sees news footage of Carnage’s attack on the Daily Bugle.

Web of Continuity: Harry Osborn recently passed away in Spectacular Spider-Man #200. Shriek claims that she was exposed to Cloak’s darkness during her days as a drug dealer and is now immune. Demogoblin thinks that the “dark power” he craves can only be gained after he kills all other demonic entities.

*See _________ For Details: Carnage broke out of custody, recruited Shriek and Doppelganger, and later attacked the Daily Bugle in Spider-Man Unlimited #1.

Creative Differences: Shriek’s reference to her life as a drug dealer has been relettered. Carnage’s entrance line, explaining that he’s followed Shriek’s “path of chaos” to find the church, is a correction. Venom has an added word balloon emphasizing that San Francisco is now his home.

Review: Oh, joy. We’ve reached “Maximum Carnage.” This is a fourteen-part crossover that consists almost entirely of Spider-Man and a random selection of heroes fighting Carnage and his “family” of serial killers. It consumes three months of every Spider-title, and accomplishes absolutely nothing. In fact, the positioning of the event circumvented any real attempts to deal with the death of Harry Osborn, so aside from being pointless, it stood in the way of a story that could’ve had a point.

I will say this, the early chapters that focus on Spider-Man and Cloak and Dagger fighting Carnage’s crew aren’t so bad, as far as mindless action comics go. Everyone knows that Spider-Man has a tiny clique of superheroes he routinely associates with (Cloak and Dagger, Black Cat, and the members of Silver Sable’s Outlaws). Placing them in a giant action story against a villainous faction assembled by Carnage is pure ‘90s cheese, but it could be fun for a few issues. And, hey, Alex Saviuk might’ve been dismissed as the “boring” Spidey artist by some fans, but he does a great job on the interiors this issue.

The first problem with “Maximum Carnage” is when Cloak and Dagger drop out of the story for…Captain America, Deathlok, and Iron Fist. Any of these team-ups on their own would be fine, but these characters really have no place in a giant Spider-Man storyline. This could’ve been the Prowler’s time to shine! Secondly, Carnage has assembled some of the lamest villains to come out of the ‘90s Spider-Man comics. The only character here worth redeeming is Shriek, and that’s based on the “Shrieking” arc that J. M. DeMatteis won’t be writing for another year or so. Carrion does show up in later chapters, so the villains aren’t entirely ’90s embarrassments, but I don’t recall the creators doing much with him. Finally…fourteen chapters? Would even the most blood-crazed pubescent fanboy want to read over three-hundred and fifty pages of this nonsense?


Matt said...

Not only is it fourteen parts, but if I recall correctly, the final part is basically just padding. I think Carnage is beaten in Part 13 (or maybe even Part 12), then he randomly comes back for one last round against Spidey and Venom.

I'll be curious to see how this reads using just the Web issues. I'm looking forward to the Clone Saga for the same reason.

I will say one positive thing about "Maximum Carnage": I really liked the Super NES video game that was based on it, though I liked its sequel, "Separation Anxiety", even more because it allowed 2-player co-op.

dschonbe said...

I tried reading the trade of this recently. I don't think I made it through Chapter 5 before I got too tired of it.

I can't recall who wrote the intro to the trade, but he was discussing that this story was meant to be an attack of "dark" storytelling vs "fun" storytelling. I'm not sure what to make of that, but there it is.

wwk5d said...

This could have worked as a 5 or 6 parter...but 14 parts? If it had expanded to include dozens or characters, maybe, but the same 5 or 6 heroes versus the same 5 or 6 villains for 14 parts screamed lather, rinse, repeat...

j said...

I think Maximum Carnage was probably ruined by the X-Books. When Marvel saw how big of a success X-Cutioner's song was they probably made the Spidey team do the same format. The difference, of course, is that the X-Men books revolve around dozens of characters and the Spider-Man books revolve around one. Marvel obviously didn't care in the 90s. That's at least what I think happened.

Anonymous said...

I guess I was the 12 year old, blood-crazed fanboy who they were targeting since I couldn't get enough of it. I don't think I found every issue at the time but I'm sure I bought at least 10 issues of this mess. Of course, it's pretty clear in retrospect that this was at least twice as long as it needed to be.

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