MAXIMUM CARNAGE (1993): Spider-Man Unlimited #1-2, Spectacular Spider-Man #201-203, Amazing Spider-Man #378-380,Web of Spider-Man #101-103, Spider-Man #35-37

With the launch of the “Unlimited” line (80 page quarterly comics), Marvel had five series with Spider-Man in the title (in addition to his appearances in one-shots, miniseries, other peoples’ books, and the many Venom miniseries).  The “Maximum Carnage” event crossed over all five books, starting with Spider-Man Unlimited #1.  Was there enough story content to support 14 issues?  Definitely not.

We’re getting into the dregs of the ’90s now.

Here’s the main story beats: Cletus Kasady had Carnage literally in his blood, so although Carnage was believed to have been destroyed (in Amazing Spider-Man #363) and Cletus was put in prison, he quickly manifested Carnage again and broke out Shriek.

So Carnage has a woman now, and he uses her for exposition.

Spider-Man’s Doppleganger from Infinity War is still running around. Carnage thinks he is a comedian and resent Doppleganger for snarling.

Spider-Man tries to stop the break out.

He gets beat up and swears revenge.

That’s just not Spider-Man–that’s not his character.

On to Web of Spider-Man #101, where Cloak and Dagger help Spider-Man fight Carnage and Shriek.

Dagger seems to die during the fight, but we all know better by now, right?

Later, Venom decides to catch a flight from San Francisco to New York to fulfill his new mission as a hero and also help take down Carnage.

The villains also join up with Spider-Man’s evil, 8-armed Doppleganger from Infinity War.

But they fight first of course.

Then in Amazing Spider-Man #378, Carnage recruits Demogoblin–the demon version of Hobgoblin–and kicks the heroes’ asses.

Emboldened, Carnage takes on the role of “father” to Demogoblin and also recruits Carrion.  The group of villains goes on a killing spree across New York and half a dozen comics.

Various characters make appearances for one or more issues…


Black Cat, Captain America, Deathlok…

Deathwatch, Iron Fist, Morbius, and Nightwatch.  Fortunately, all these appearances occur within the 14 comics/5 Spider-Man titles, rather than tying into even more series. 

Carnage captures Venom so we get the inevitable torture scene. The ’90s stories all had the same beats.

And of course, it all ends up being Spider-Man’s responsiblity anyway.

Also Shriek has mental powers that turn normal citizens into psychos.

Of course, you can’t have this many bad guys working together for long.  Carnage decides he’s better than his allies (and he is), so he turns on them and the baddies all fight.  This allows the heroes to overcome Shriek’s psychic powers and take down Carnage’s team.

Carnage and Venom have the final battle, in which Venom electrocutes Carnage but does not kill him–he stuns him, and the evil symbiote is contained to fight another day.  Meanwhile, Venom appears to die in the electrical explosion and decides that’s the best way for him to slip away.

And Spider-Man can’t even let Venom kill Carnage. Carnage is a symbiote. Not sure why this is a dilemma for Spidey.

And MJ, who started this whole arc asking Peter to quit being Spider-Man, rewards the hero with a kiss.

After all these issues and all these fights, Maximum Carnage changes nothing. It’s very disappointing to have an event this long and not mean a damn thing.

For Marvel, this event was a big deal. It got a full page in Marvel Age.


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