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 finished 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. Peter Parker, meanwhile, was attending the funeral of his closest friend, Harry Osborn, and promising his wife, Mary Jane, that he would take a break from being Spider-Man for a while, as she was worried about his safety (she was also smoking cigarettes like crazy).
Carnage and Shriek then “adopted” Spider-Man’s doppelganger from Infinity War. Peter sees the news about Carnage’s escape from Ravencroft and breaks his promise right away. Shriek and Doppelganger beat Spider-Man pretty easily and knock him to an alleyway, badly injuring his ribs. Carnage, meanwhile, breaks into J. Jonah Jameson’s offices to get a message out.
We continue with Web of Spider-Man #101, “Darklight,” Maximum Carnage Part 2, by Terry Kavanagh, Alex Saviuk and Don Hudson, with colors by Bob Sharen and letters by Steve Dutro.
Brian Cronin: To give you a sense of just how these things worked back then.
Brian Cronin: This issue, part 2 of a 14-part-crossover
Brian Cronin: appeared one month after Web of Spider-Man #100 had a foil-cover to commemorate Spider-Man having a Spider-Armor for a single issue.
Brian Cronin: In other words, marketing was sort of the tail that was wagging the dog in 1993.
Flavio Sette: And right in the wake of Harry Osborn’s death, obviously, which I think also took place in an anniversary issue.
Sean Whitmore: It was quite a time to be a Spidey fan.
Sean Whitmore: The dark days were comin
Brian Cronin: In a lot of ways, it was remarkable that the writers got anything of value out of some of these things.
Flavio Sette: Yeah. Marketing ran Marvel, basically.
Tom A.: Yeah, I heard lots of horror stories of the marketing team making everything worse during the Clone Saga.
Brian Cronin: That Web storyline, though, just really stood out, in that it was this whole thing seemingly designed to just get a reason for a foil cover for the #100 issue.
Brian Cronin: He literally wears the armor for a single issue
Tom A.: And then that armor showed up in like a dozen videogames and toys anyway.
Brian Cronin: Spider-Armor IS a cool idea.
Brian Cronin: But yeah, pretty much just a marketing idea.
Tom A.: I prefer the Ends of the Earth Spider-Armor.
Brian Cronin: I liked the Spider-Man phone video game.
Brian Cronin: Where it had playable Spider-Man characters for every variation of the character
Brian Cronin: LOTS of different choices to pick from ya know?
Flavio Sette: I haven’t read anything Spider-Man-related that came out after One More Day (other than a few issues of Superior Spider-Man Team-Up, mostly because of the art), so I only have a vague idea of what that Ends of the Earth armor was.
Brian Cronin: And then, once Spider-Man gets over that foil cover, it goes right into…a huge crossover!
Sean Whitmore: It was hilarious. Amazing and Spectacular had their foil-cover big issues around the same time, but actually changes (ostensibly) happened in them.
Sean Whitmore: Web not only had the one-time-only spider armor, he fought a bunch of scrubs as the culmination of a story no one cared about that never came into play again.
Tom A.: Did any issues of Maximum Carnage have holo covers?
Brian Cronin: No, actually, which seems like a big marketing fail, right?
Brian Cronin: Same with Knightfall.
Flavio Sette: Yeah, slap some rub-on blood on that!
Flavio Sette: Like Bloodstrike.
Brian Cronin: Only the final issue of Knightfall (and sort of kind of Batman #497).
Flavio Sette: Gimme a gimmick, any gimmick!
Flavio Sette: Give us a chromium cover of Spidey fighting Carnage.s.
Flavio Sette: It’s ’93, starting acting like it
Sean Whitmore: This was also very shortly after the Venom #1 foil cover
Sean Whitmore: And shortly before the “LifeTheft” foil cover
Brian Cronin: We’re one issue removed from a foil cover for Web #100, one issue removed from a foil cover for Spectacular Spider-Man #200 and three issues removed from a foil cover for Amazing Spider-Man #375! What a time to be alive!
Flavio Sette: Speaking of covers.
Flavio Sette: This issue’s cover is pretty misleading, right?
Tom A.: Yeah, this is a pretty nice cover.
Tom A.: Well, it’s not that misleading.
Sean Whitmore: I guess if you bought it for being a huge JJJ fan, one might be miffed
Tom A.: True, really, the whole cliffhanger was ultimately pointless.
Brian Cronin: What is struck me back in the day was “Wow, Alex Saviuk is going all out to keep this job.”
Brian Cronin: And yes, even as a teenager, I was that oddly cynical about comic books.
Tom A.: Either he wanted to keep his job, or also make the leap to Image.
Flavio Sette: Not only does Carnage not attack Jonah and Spidey at the same time, but I’m pretty sure the whole sub-plot with Jonah goes nowhere.
Flavio Sette: I mean, he does it all to send Spidey a message, but Spider-Man doesn’t even see it.
Sean Whitmore: I was a naive child, Brian, and thought Buscema and Saviuk would be around forever
Sean Whitmore: While with Amazing, I had already been through 3 artists
Brian Cronin: Saviuk and Hudson were one of the more veteran teams on the books at the time, with Buscema obviously being the other vet (Hudson had only recently taken over from Keith Williams on the book).
Brian Cronin: And this being the 1990s, veteran artists were getting pushed out like crazy.
Brian Cronin: At this point, Herb Trimpe was over in Fantastic Four Unlimited dramatically altering his art style to get hired.
Sean Whitmore: Good god, did he
Flavio Sette: Yeah, that’s a bummer.
Flavio Sette: Brian wrote an article on it a while back.
Brian Cronin: Despite being around in comics since the early 1980s, Hudson was actually still a young guy at the time, since he started as a teenager while still in high school.
Brian Cronin: Saviuk, though, had been in comics since the late 1970s at this point. And he had been drawing Web of Spider-Man since #35!! He has a SEVEN-YEAR run on the book!
Brian Cronin: But I imagine that he was worrying about Marvel hiring a “hotter” artist at this point, so Saviuk really does some outstanding work during this crossover.
Next time, see Spider-Man almost get killed by a bizarrely ethno-diverse gang! And who saves Spidey’s bacon?
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