Comics
Published January 9, 2020

14 Reasons to Read ‘Maximum Carnage’

14 parts to this fan-favorite event. 14 reasons to read now in Marvel Unlimited.

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How best to sum up the ‘Maximum Carnage’ event? Sure, we could use a handful of words, (murder-y, scrappy and outrageously fun), or we can show you, issue by issue.

For each of its 14 chapters, we’ve boiled down a single reason why you’ll go Carnage level-crazy for this 90s slasher-fest event.

Here’s the premise. We’ve all heard that misery loves company, right? Well, that also holds true for criminally insane super powered killers. After springing himself from the Ravencroft Institute, (an insane asylum whose history you can read in full here), symbiote host Cletus Kasady wrangles up a crew of like-minded psychos to unleash their own brand of mayhem on the streets of Manhattan. Got that?

The event also marks one of the first Spider-Man/Venom team-ups. Knowing that he’s dangerously outmatched, Eddie Brock: Venom, (the symbiote host who inadvertently spawned Carnage), enlists Spider-Man’s help. Oh, plus we get some backup from the likes of Captain America, Iron Fist, Firestar… and more surprise guests.

There’s not a lot of story you’ll need to catch up on. Anyone who’s a fan of the Web-Slinger will appreciate this sickening storyline, and if you’re not familiar with Carnage, we recommend two issues before diving in—Cletus Kasady’s first appearance as Brock’s cellmate in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) #344, and his first time bonding with the Carnage symbiote in THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) #361-363.

Need more of that current Carnage fix? Pick up his ‘Ruins of Ravencroft’ one-shot, the RUINS OF RAVENCROFT: CARNAGE (2020) #1. It’s on sale in print and digital now, and it’s the first out of three one-shot tales leading up to the five-issue ‘Ravencroft’ series that will pull back the curtain on the most mentally unstable corner of the Marvel U.

Or, if you’re looking for Carnage to the max, start and don’t stop reading the ABSOLUTE CARNAGE event. Creators Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman paint the town blood-red in this multi-title epic, where Carnage is resurrected by a symbiote god-worshipping cult. He then begins to hunt down every single symbiote host ever. (Yea, we’ve tracked them all here). Read in print or digital now.

The event kicks off in Marvel Unlimited on 2/10 too, ranging across several limited series. So stay tuned, MU readers, or join MU today to pull up a chair to the action.

Now, let’s get on this mania-fueled joy ride, shall we? Here’s why you’ll love this one:

1) THIS SPIDER-MAN “DOPPELGANGER”

Doppelganger

After busting sonic manipulator Shriek out of Ravencroft, (while spitting some flirty game), Carnage teams with the chaos-causing heartbreaker and the “Spider-Man Doppelganger”, a six-armed horror created during MagusInfinity War. And in rare form, Spidey’s defeated by this lesser self, allowing Carnage to get the slip…

Spider-Man Unlimited (1993) #1

Spider-Man Unlimited (1993) #1

    • publishedMay 1, 1993
    • added to marvel unlimitedJun 2, 2011
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2) CLOAK AND DAGGER

Cloak_Dagger

Doubled over in an alley after last issue’s really rough gut punch, Spider-Man is nearly taken out by a group of thugs… until these street-level saviors swoop in. Spider-Man now has Cloak and Dagger on his “versus Carnage” team, but Venom entering the fray? Well, that may tilt the scales against our heroes…

Web of Spider-Man (1985) #101

Web of Spider-Man (1985) #101

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3) SOME REALLY GOOD BAD ROMANCE

Bad Romance
Please don’t smoke, kids, it’s awful for you and very expensive.

With Harry Osborn still warm in his grave after an ill-fated turn as Green Goblin, (Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #200), Mary Jane Watson’s feeling particularly vulnerable when she finds out that her bruised/broken husband is trailing a serial murderer and his ilk. Paralleling Peter and MJ’s grounded marriage, is the toxic love story unfolding between Carnage and Shriek. These two whackos are deranged for each other. Date night for them is offing random passersby.

The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #378

The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #378

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4) VENOM/SPIDER-MAN/BLACK CAT ALLIANCE

Black Cat

After showing up close to death’s door at Peter and MJ’s door, Eddie Brock begs the Wall-Crawler to help him end Carnage, Shriek, the Demogoblin, the Doppelganger, and now Carrion. Spider-Man seeks advice from ally and former fling Black Cat, who, of course, immediately wants in.

Spider-Man (1990) #35

Spider-Man (1990) #35

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5) END-OF-HIS-ROPE SPIDEY

Merciless Spider-Man

While a tricky Spider-Man to cosplay, “merciless” Spidey deserves his callout. Pushed to the breaking point once all of New York’s lunatics pour onto the streets, our Web-Slinger feels relatively helpless as the closet killers/looters come out to play. Not to mention, Peter Parker’s dealing with immense guilt over a distancing relationship with Aunt May and his “father”. Oh, and a couple of his ribs are definitely broken.

We can credit this event as the one that nearly claimed Spider-Man’s humanity.

Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) #201

Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) #201

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6) HUNGRY, HUNGRY, MORBIUS

Morbius

You know it’s pretty desperate when Black Cat, Cloak, and Venom are hitting up Morbius the Living Vampire for help. The geneticist-turned-bloodsucker is only interested in whetting his appetite during the events of ‘Maximum Carnage’, and that insatiable palate proves his greatest asset. Not the noblest of reasons to sign up, but hey, Manhattan’s all but burning and the city’s run amok.

Web of Spider-Man (1985) #102

Web of Spider-Man (1985) #102

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7) IMPORTANT CARNAGE BACKSTORY

Backstory

Every hero gets his origin, why can’t Carnage? The quad squad of Spider-Man, Cloak, Black Cat and Venom pay a visit to the now-derelict St. Estes Home for Boys, the orphanage where Kasady was raised. And abused. And tormented. It’s a real stretch for answers, but again, everyone’s desperate. Meanwhile, Morbius has been digging for more dirt on Shriek, AKA Sandra Deel, AKA Frances Louise Barrison. Unsurprisingly, she’s been institutionalized most of her life.

Oh, also Michael Collins’ Deathlok joins the alliance! Please don’t miss his 1990 limited-series—it’s tragic and so very good.

8) J. JONAH JAMESON: SUPER HERO?!

JJJ

The “ugly truth” is that Spider-Man and company need the help of the Daily Bugle’s editor-in-chief! Resorting to the low, mean tactics of New York’s premiere publication, the Hero Alliance asks Jameson to publish a bait-y article to lure Carnage and co. to the St. Estes Home for Boys… so that they can use Reed Richards’ sonic disruptor gun! J.J.J.—begrudging hero of the day!

Spider-Man (1990) #36

Spider-Man (1990) #36

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9) FIRESTAR’S MICROWAVE MELTDOWN

Firestar

Spider-Man’s not the only good guy who’s (nearly) come undone. In one of her most savage burns to date, the radioactive Firestar unleashes a full spectrum of flesh-burning heat, nearly cooking Carnage alive. It’s like watching a moral train wreck unfold, and the layout by artist Sal Buscema is so brilliantly, eerily effective.

Also the issue where everyone, Carnage and Spider-Man included, go in for their first, double-spread splash battle.

Splash
Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) #202

Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) #202

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10) CAP!

Cap

At just the right moment, the star-spangled Avenger offers a morale boost. Captain America might as well be on a white horse when he immediately jumps in to strategize an end to Carnage’s reign.

Also, things are unraveling at alarming speed in a showdown between Cloak, Morbius, and Black Cat vs. Carrion, Demogoblin, and Doppelganger. And it’s looking reallll ugly for Venom too.

Kidnapped
Web of Spider-Man (1985) #103

Web of Spider-Man (1985) #103

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11) SHRIEK’S CACOPHONOUS CHAOS

Chaos

Causing a sonic disturbance that’s made national news, Shriek inspires Manhattan’s population to embrace her brand of madness—now, even the innocent have become anarchists and murderers. Spider-Man is able to save a mother from chucking her own kids off a building… while Cap is just out there being Cap, letting the everyman know that he’s capable of so much good. It’s a riotous issue, folks, and it ends on a really bleak note….

The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #380

The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #380

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12) THIS REMARKABLE RESURRECTION

She's back!

She once was lost… in the Darkforce Dimension! Cloak was totally devastated after he thought his partner perished by Shriek’s screams oh-so many issues ago. Turns out, Tyrone had to “pull” Tandy back through the darkness after Shriek’s powers jostled her into becoming a living being of light. (Best not to ask too many questions).

In truly spectacular fashion, Dagger’s back in the game, and Spider-Man has just the right amount of gun power to knock out Carnage and his “kids”.

Spider-Man (1990) #37

Spider-Man (1990) #37

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13) THE “ALPHA-MAGNI ILLUMINIZOR”

Alpha Ray

In our penultimate issue, Deathlok and Iron Fist finally show up with an eleventh hour game changer—the “Alpha-Magni Illuminizor”. Fresh off the rack from Rand Industries, this mega-weapon blasts over Carnage, Shriek, and their whacked out little family, removing any superhuman influence, and instilling the villains with a sense of compassion.

In essence, this “illuminizor” cures psychopathy. It also reverts Carrion back to his human state, while Shriek is left reeling for redemption. Looks like things are finally taking a turn…

Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) #203

Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) #203

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14) THIS SYMBIOTE SMACKDOWN

Smackdown

This is it! The event’s finale seriously slims things down, pitting Spider-Man and Venom against the singular foe of Carnage… before all three start beating on each other. Through the searing pain of a shattered ribcage, Spidey scrambles to subdue both Carnage and Venom… and by issues’ end, only of the symbiote hosts will be swinging away free.

Spider-Man Unlimited (1993) #2

Spider-Man Unlimited (1993) #2

    • publishedAug 1, 1993
    • added to marvel unlimitedMay 19, 2014
What is Marvel Unlimited?

 

Tempted to read the event in full? Try the Maximum Carnage event in Marvel Unlimited, your all-access pass to the Marvel Universe. Gain instant access to over 25,000 digital comics at your fingertips, and chime in on the conversation with #MarvelUnlimited. And, stay posted to Marvel’s Twitter and Facebook channels for weekly announcements and updates!

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