Friday, December 5, 2014

The Matt Signal Advent Calendar 2014 Day 5: Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage

Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage, May 1993

OK, so I swore I'd only write about good comics on here. This one stretches that definition a bit, but bear with me.

In seventh grade, I went on an overnight trip with school, and was put in a room with some guy I didn't know. Shockingly, I was a kind of awkward kid and barely liked the people I knew, let alone some stranger. But this stranger and I happened to both have brought comics with us, and the comic we both had was the current part of this Spider-Man crossover. I was trying out Spidey at the time, and had developed a lot of excitement for Venom and his evil spawn, Carnage. Now, I tell this story because this kid who I bonded with over Carnage and his exploits was Dan Grote, who over the years became my best friend, and whose work you're all reading here.

Maximum Carnage is the most 90s crossover to ever be 90sed in the 90s. Carnage, who is a cross between Venom and the Joker, escapes from the asylum and does his best Charles Manson impression, gathering a group of C-List villains around him, including newbie Shriek, Carrion ( an evil Jackal clone with extra powers), Demogoblin (the demon who for a while was bonded with then Hobgoblin Jason Macendale), and the Doppelganger (the Spider-Man Doppelganger from Infinity War who survived and became Demogoblin's buddy), to basically destroy as much property and kill as many people as he could. Spidey, meanwhile, teams up with Venom and they gather various 90s heroes, including Nightwatch, Deathlok, Morbius, and Firestar, along with Black Cat, Cloak & Dagger, and, out of left field, Captain America, to fight Carnage's family.

OK, let's be honest: Maximum Carnage is never going to be remembered as the highlight of Spider-Man storytelling. It's not Kraven's Last Hunt. But what it is, it does with gusto. It's wall to wall crazy, with as much over the top violence they could squeeze in while still staying within the Comics Code. It also does have some interesting stuff from a creative standpoint. Mark Bagely was really starting to find his stride on his monumental Amazing Spider-Man run around this point, and J.M. DeMatteis does some interesting stuff with Spidey struggling with the morality of letting a monster like Carnage live and whether he should let Venom just kill Carnage. But mostly, well, it's just a superhero slugfest.

It did, however, translate perfectly into a pretty awesome video game for Sega Genesis and SNES.

I wanted to tell the story of Dan and me meeting before he takes over for the next few entries. So stay tuned tomorrow for Dan Grote's comic memories, before I return the middle of next week with the breaking of the Bat.

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