This is “From a Different Point of View,” a feature where I discuss a comic book series with other people. Ever since the pandemic began, I’ve been doing twice-weekly reader chats about notable comic book crossovers, storylines or miniseries. We started with Secret Wars and then we did Knightfall and now we’re starting with Maximum Carnage!
Each time around, I’ll share a chunk of our discussion.
When last we checked in on Maximum Carnage, we had just begun discussing Spider-Man Unlimited #1, “Carnage Rising,” Maximum Carnage Part 1, by Tom DeFalco, Ron Lim and Jim Sanders III, with letters by Chris Eliopoulos and colors by Nel Yomtov. Edited by Danny Fingeroth, with Rob Tokar as the assistant editor. We talked about how the opening of the crossover was similar to Knightfall, which debuted the same exact month as Maximum Carnage, and both crossovers kicked off with an escape from an insane asylum. In Knightfall, it was Arkham Asylum, while here, it was Carnage escaping from Ravencroft after he revealed that his symbiote was still attached to him within his blood.
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Carnage slaughtered a number of Ravencroft guards and then freed another resident at Ravencroft, the murderous mutant, Shriek, who offered to be Carnage’s partner in slaughter. When all of this was going down, though, what was Spider-Man doing?
[We’re going to try a different format this time around, more similar to our original setup when we discussed Secret Wars – BC]
Brian Cronin: It’s fascinating that the first part of Maximum Carnage is also the funeral for Harry Osborn, who had just died in the excellent Spectacular Spider-Man #200.
Sean Whitmore: Dematteis really killed it on that Harry Osborn story
Brian Cronin: Seems like a little too much overlap there.
Tom A.: I guess it’s to add extra Peter Parker angst.
Brian Cronin: You probably shouldn’t be wrapping up old plots in the start of your 14-part crossover.
Tom A.: Yeah, it’ll confuse newer readers who picked up this number one.
Brian Cronin: The funeral also introduces us to the amazing plot point of 1992, the fact that Peter Parker’s dead parents are alive!
Flavio Sette: I think it kinda works that this is happening at a time when Peter’s already under a ton of stress and processing his grief for his best friend.
Brian Cronin: Sort of like Batman at the start of Knightfall.
Sean Whitmore: Man, Peter’s parents, MJ smoking, Infinity War monster…this must be one weird comic to anyone reading it now for the first time.
Tom A.: What’s funny is that they say that they didn’t know Harry, but it later turned out that they were robots created by Harry.
Tom A.: But I don’t know if the writers had decided that at the time.
Flavio Sette: That guy who described Harry as a “quick with a laugh, and so full of life” and a “wild man” clearly hasn’t seen him since sophomore year at ESU, because he hasn’t been like that since the Romita days.
Flavio Sette: “Oh, man, Harry was so wild. Remember when we’d drop acid and he’d think he was a glass of orange juice and he’d be freaking out thinking we were gonna drink him? Good times.”
Brian Cronin: Did they later reveal that Harry was behind them and not the Chameleon?
Flavio Sette: Yeah.
Brian Cronin: Weird.
Flavio Sette: There was the whole “Gotcha!” scene.
Tom A.: I think it was that Harry hired the Chameleon.
Brian Cronin: Oh, gotcha.
Brian Cronin: Yeah, I remember it now.
Sean Whitmore: Which was a great scene, but…I dunno
Sean Whitmore: Pinning it on him after their tearful goodbye fell flat for me
Tom A.: Harry neglected to tell Spider-Man about this in his dying scene it seems.
Flavio Sette: As for the Parkers, you know they’re robots because they never once mention the fact that Peter is actually Richard and Aunt May’s biological son. Or Aunt May’s Mickey Mouse fetish.
Flavio Sette: Man, remember “Trouble”?
Tom A.: “Oh, by the way Peter, since I’m apologizing for everything, you should know that I-uk”
Brian Cronin: Haha
Brian Cronin: This reminds me a lot of the start of Knighfall.
Brian Cronin: As you really are supposed to know Peter’s messed up state of mind based on events before this crossover.
Brian Cronin: Just like Knightfall.
Flavio Sette: It’s funny to think that Aunt May outlived Gwen and Harry (well, until he came back), which you’d never would’ve thought would’ve happened back in the ‘60s/early ‘70s.
Brian Cronin: But DeFalco at least does a good job detailing it all right now.
Sean Whitmoe: Yeah, Peter is pretty tired mentally, if not physically
Tom A.: Of course, Harry would eventually come back.
Tom A.: Turns out that Norman helped faked his death and sent him to Europe for rehab.
Flavio Sette: I love that Jonah blames Spider-Man for it.
Flavio Sette: Jonah probably blames everything in his life on Spider-Man.
Flavio Sette: “My car had a flat this morning. Spider-Man must’ve slashed it in the dead of night!”
Brian Cronin: It makes as much sense as anything!
Flavio Sette: “My cousin’s got cancer, it’s all Spider-Man’s fault!”
Flavio Sette: “I couldn’t get it up last night. Damn you, Spider-Man!!!”
Tom A.: Jonah won’t let the fact that he knows that both Norman and Harry were costumed super-villains who brought it on themselves get in the way of blaming Spider-Man.
Sean Whitmore: Norman’s identity was ‘t public at this point, I don’t think
Brian Cronin: It was not, Sean.
Flavio Sette: I think that happened in Pulse.
Flavio Sette: By Brian Bendis and oh, who else, Mark Bagley!
Tom A.: Actually, Norman was outed earlier, but Norman claimed that it was fake.
Tom A.: And convinced the public of it up until the Pulse.
Brian Cronin: Yeah, but that was after his return, right, Tom?
Brian Cronin: At this moment, no one knows Norman was the Green Goblin, I don’t believe.
Brian Cronin: Oh man, Mary Jane’s smoking scene.
Flavio Sette: It’s interesting that Peter still looks a lot like he did back in the days of Romita Sr., Gil Kane and Ross Andru, while MJ looks almost completely different. Even though I grew up reading ‘90s Spider-Man her look just seems off to me.
Brian Cronin: The smoking subplot is so painfully bad.
Flavio Sette: Yeah, I totally forgot MJ was a smoker for a while.
Tom A.: And nowadays it wouldn’t happen because Marvel has a ban on all characters smoking.
Brian Cronin: This isn’t DeFalco’s fault.
Brian Cronin: As he’s just working with what they had to give him.
Brian Cronin: But man, this dialogue is painful.
Tom A.: “Smoking is bad, MJ”
Sean Whitmore: Peter got way mad for someone who risked his own life 10 times a week
Flavio Sette: “I’ll just become a super-villain, then, Pete, how do you like that, huh?!”
Tom A.: “Yeah, well being the Green Goblin is also bad for your health”
Brian Cronin: “Don’t confuse the issues, Peter! Harry might still be alive it he had taken up smoking…instead of being the Green Goblin!”
Brian Cronin: What the what, MJ?
Tom A.: Well, Harry probably took up smoking something else back in the 70s.
Sean Whitmore: God, remember how the smoking plot resolved?
Tom A.: I’m guessing she stopped once she was pregnant?
Brian Cronin: Worse, Tom.
Brian Cronin: It somehow lasts beyond this crossover, which is nuts.
Sean Whitmore: Peter takes MJ to see a cancer-ridden Nick Katzenberg in the hospital
Flavio Sette: I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if brain donor Harry Osborn rolled-up a sheet of acid and smoked it.
Flavio Sette: I do like that the theme of the arc is established right from the start: Peter’s sense of responsibility and inability to shirk said responsibility.
Flavio Sette: But MJ does make a lot of sense here. I mean, why can’t he take a break? Obviously other events conspired to prevent that, but still, you almost never see Peter just take a couple weeks off. Or most super-heroes for that matter.
Brian Cronin: Yeah, but the payoff is so weird, since a promise to give being Spider-Man a rest in Part 1 of a 14-part crossover is obviously meaningless.
Flavio Sette: True.
Next time around, we close up the first part of Maximum Carnage with a momentous occasion…Spidey hurts his ribs!!
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