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 started discussing 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. We talked about the crossover launched in the midst of a period where the Spider-Man books were all about gimmick covers.
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In the story, meanwhile, Carnage escaped from Ravencroft, freeing another resident at Ravencroft, the murderous mutant, Shriek, who offered to be Carnage’s partner in slaughter. Peter Parker 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.
What happens to Spider-Man while he’s lying in that alley?
Tom A.: Spider-Man almost gets killed by what Nico from the Runaways once called “those politically correct, multi-ethnic gangs that only rob people in bad TV shows.”
Brian Cronin: Yeah, it was a weirdly implausible gang, Tom.
Flavio Sette: The opening reminds me of the second issue of Hush, which featured a wounded Batman surrounded by thugs, a cool double-page spread and another hero coming to his rescue. Hey, both Huntress and Dagger wear absurdly revealing and impractical costumes!
Flavio Sette: Speaking of Hush, I think the first time I ever paid attention to panel layouts was when I read it. I’d look forward to reading each issue to see if Jim Lee was going to stick with that same set-up for the first five pages or if he was gonna deviate from it. He probably could’ve played with it more, but hey, he owned that sequence of layouts. It’s to Lee as the 9-panel grid has (at times) been to Gibbons and Giffen.
Brian Cronin: Good comparison to “Hush,” Flavio, as this had that same sort of feel of “Okay, we’re shoehorning this character into the story now.”
Flavio Sette: Kinda, yeah.
Flavio Sette: Loeb and Lee did try to explain it away later, though.
Tom A.: Did Cloak and Dagger have an ongoing series at this point in time? Was this basically promoting that?
Flavio Sette: I think Cloak and Dagger’s series had been cancelled by that point.
Flavio Sette: “The Mutant Misadventures of Cloak and Dagger”
Brian Cronin: Nothing at the time, Tom, but in 1993, there was always a really good chance.
Brian Cronin: That any given character used could THEN get their own series.
Flavio Sette: Yep.
Sean Whitmore: I think except for Cap, none of the guest stars in this story had books at the time
Tom A.: Cloak and Dagger have never had much luck keeping a book.
Flavio Sette: I can definitely see them using this as a springboard for C & D.
Brian Cronin: So I’m sure Kavanagh figured there was a very good chance that Cloak and Dagger could get a series spinning out of this.
Tom A.: And in between their rare ongoings or minis, they just wander around making occasional cameos.
Flavio Sette: Heh, yeah.
Flavio Sette: Iron Fist had just come out of a stint as a supporting character (kinda) in Namor.
Brian Cronin: They were originally Spider-Man characters, so they likely felt it made sense to bring them back to the Spidey books.
Brian Cronin: Deathlok still had a series at this point, no?
Flavio Sette: Iron Fist had just been resurrected too!
Sean Whitmore: Did he? I’m not sure when Deathlok ended
Flavio Sette: Firestar was appearing in the pages of New Warriors, though.
Flavio Sette: Love me some Firestar.
Sean Whitmore: Morbius actually might have still been going on too, for that matter. I have zero memories of how long that lasted.
Flavio Sette: This issue starts off weirdly out-of-step with the times. Aside from them being, like Tom said, like a gang from an ’80s movie, I mean, look at what those guys are wearing. One of them even has those Cyclops-style shades that were kinda popular in the ‘80s.
Tom A.: It’s funny just how much the size of Cloak’s cloak varies from panel to panel.
Flavio Sette: Blame it on Todd McFarlane!
Brian Cronin: Man, the pacing of this comic is just awful.
Sean Whitmore: One of ‘em has a sword. Not a knife, a friggin sword.
Flavio Sette: I thought that was a machete.
Tom A.: Yeah, Spider-Man is in trouble, but then Cloak and Dagger immediately show upt to rescue him, so he was only in danger for one splash page, then all the goons are easily defeated, and Cloak and Dagger just take him to the Church.
Tom A.: Really, the muggers added nothing.
Tom A.: Other than a chance to show off what Cloak and Dagger can do I guess.
Brian Cronin: Yeah, which has a reason in of itself.
Brian Cronin: But then we just vamp for pages.
Flavio Sette: “That’s Steve, from Machete Squad”.
Sean Whitmore: That’s Machete Mike .
Flavio Sette: I guess we’re solidly in “MJ wearing a negligee waiting by the window for Peter to come home” era of Spider-Man, huh? Or a sweater and shorts as the case may be.
Tom A.: It’s kind of weird comparing the Liz Allen of this era to the current Liz Allen, a corrupt corporate executive who teamed up with Norman Osborn.
Tom A.: Normie is still creepy though, and seemingly hasn’t aged much.
Flavio Sette: They should’ve had Liz marry Foggy Nelson.
Sean Whitmore: I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop with Normie
Brian Cronin: Yeah, talk about a story that went NOWHERE.
Flavio Sette: Boom, she’s over in the DD books where they won’t turn her into a super-villain.
Sean Whitmore: Than Norman came back and it no longer mattered
Brian Cronin: Normie just shows up, looks creepy, and then scene.
Brian Cronin: Repeat and repeat and repeat.
Brian Cronin: And it never goes anywhere beyond that.
Sean Whitmore: Yeah, breaking Spidey dolls and whatnot
Tom A.: I guess it sort of gets some payoff when he becomes Red Goblin Jr. over 20 years later, but yeah.
Flavio Sette: So many random sub-plots that pop up and disappear.
Flavio Sette: That’s the Spidey books in the ’90s in a nutshell. “Is this something?” “Eh, maybe. We’ll figure it out eventually”.
Brian Cronin: Here’s how bad this page is.
Brian Cronin: Imagine this page is missing entirely.
Brian Cronin: Would it alter this comic at all?
Brian Cronin: Would it alter Maximum Carnage at all?
Brian Cronin: Would anything be lost at ALL if this page never existed?
Tom A.: I guess we wouldn’t see MJ angst over Peter again.
Brian Cronin: We already know MJ Is angsting over Peter, though, right?
Tom A.: No wonder some writers wanted to get rid of MJ, they seemingly couldn’t think of anything to do with her other than make her angst.
Flavio Sette: Or at least if all the panels of Normie shooting the Parkers mean looks weren’t there.
Flavio Sette: Keep the scenes but get rid of all the creepy child bs.
Flavio Sette: DeFalco had Normie become the Green Goblin in Spider-Girl, right?
Sean Whitmore: Wait a minute
Sean Whitmore: What page are we talking about?
Brian Cronin: The page of MJ watching TV, angsting over Peter.
Brian Cronin: I think they literally removed it from the trades.
Flavio Sette: No, it’s in mine.
Sean Whitmore: They did!
Flavio Sette: Well, I’ve got the Epic Collection.
Tom A.: It’s still on Marvel Unlimited.
Sean Whitmore: I’m looking for it now and don’t see it
Brian Cronin: Ha, that’s funny.
Sean Whitmore: That’s hilarious!
Brian Cronin: So some versions have it and some don’t.
Flavio Sette: You pay a little more, but you get all the useless sub-plots, so it’s worth it!
Brian Cronin: Ha!
Sean Whitmore: I had no idea this thing was edited
Brian Cronin: Well, there ya go, that just speaks to how useless this page was.
Brian Cronin: That they didn’t even include it in Sean’s TPB
Sean Whitmore: That’s what I get for not waiting for the Epic Collection
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