Today, I continue our reader discussion of the Maximum Carnage comic book crossover.
This is “We Better Talk This Over,” a feature where I discuss a comic book series with other people. Back in 2020, I started doing twice-weekly reader chats about notable comic book crossovers, storylines or miniseries. Click here to see the CBR coverage of the chats about Secret Wars, Knightfall and the first five chapters of Maximum Carnage.
When last we checked in, we were discussing the Web of Spider-Man #102, “Sinking Fast,” Maximum Carnage Part 6, by Terry Kavanagh, Alex Saviuk and Don Hudson, with letters by Steve Dutro and colors by Jim Hoston. Danny Fingeroth edits, with Rob Tokar as his assistant and how conveinient it was that Carnage and his gang of villains just happened to attack the one nightclub that Mary Jane was partying at. We continue with the fight at the night club.
Brian Cronin: Carnage is oddly surprised to see Venom here…
Brian Cronin: Did he really think he killed Venom last time?
Flavio Sette: Cloak is like a one trick pony whenever he fights Shriek. She’s gotten out of his cloak before, but here he goes, trying once again.
Brian Cronin: “What goes up, must come down, pussycat…for the count!”
Brian Cronin: Holy shit, that’s not good.
Flavio Sette: Oh god, yeah.
Sean Whitmore: It’s like Kavanagh plays Mad Libs to choose how he’ll end his sentences.
Sean Whitmore: “The odds just increased on the underdogs, Carnage…and everything’s busted wide open!”
Flavio Sette: That one definitely stood out.
Sean Whitmore: What the hell does the latter have to do with the former?
Brian Cronin: Oooph
Flavio Sette: I find it hilarious that, when Venom and Carnage bust through the wall, they made a hole, but Spidey still feels the need to make another hole just presumably because it’d be cool.
Tom A.: The Kool-Aid Man is their role model.
Brian Cronin: And Spidey’s, “More like a reason to sink to your level, sadist.”
Brian Cronin: SPIDER-MAN!
Brian Cronin: This is SPIDER-MAN!
Brian Cronin: He does not talk like that!
Brian Cronin: An important side point by Venom, though
Brian Cronin: Is why in the world HAS Spider-Man stayed away?
Brian Cronin: Carnage is cutting a swath of murder through Manhattan
Sean Whitmore: Because Venom is bad
Flavio Sette: He was too busy taping and re-taping his ribs.
Sean Whitmore: He’s so bad, Brian
Tom A.: He was too busy listening to his father rant about the commies.
Sean Whitmore: Just standing near Venom makes Peter bad by association
Brian Cronin: And Spider-Man’s, like, “If Venom’s going to try to stop him, I can’t stop him.”
Brian Cronin: “Venom is so bad, that anything he does is bad.”
Brian Cronin: “So I need to decide ‘no mercy’ before I deign it worthy to help save people.”
Brian Cronin: What is this comic book?
Flavio Sette: “Venom is bad, ergo working with Venom is bad, therefore I’ll do nothing”.
Sean Whitmore: Jumping ahead, there’s a part next chapter where Venom says something…just a flat-out act…and Peter says “Good point Venom” and then thinks “WHAT AM I SAYING?”
Flavio Sette: Solid Aristotelian logic right there.
Tom A.: I can’t get over how weird Black Cat looks without her white gloves.
Flavio Sette: Way to go there, Felicia, flirting with the man right in front of his wife.
Brian Cronin: “Your pathetic arrogance, fools…will be your undoing!”
Brian Cronin: That’s Carnage all right.
Brian Cronin: Just reading that brings Carnage right to my mind.
Flavio Sette: “Tonight, the role of Carnage will be played by Patrick Stewart”
Flavio Sette: “Justice will be ‘served’!” It feels like 80% of the dialogue this issue is made up of bad anti-hero one-liners.
Brian Cronin: How weird is it that they all needed Spider-Man to save them?
Sean Whitmore: Shouldn’t the fire be…I dunno…hurting Venom? A little? A tad?
Flavio Sette: Cloak finally tries something other than sending Shriek to the Darkforce dimension.
Sean Whitmore: I love that Spider-Man feels the need to tell Venom that he and Morbius have a bad history. He tells VENOM this.
Sean Whitmore: VEN-OM.
Flavio Sette: I remember a few chats ago talking about how you could see a lot of the same beats repeating themselves. Well, this is what, the second time Cloak confronted Shriek over Dagger’s “death”? This confrontation feels virtually identical to the last one.
Brian Cronin: Pretty much.
Brian Cronin: Kavanagh gets a good character bit in here. Which is that Spider-Man really is all over the place when it comes to his “word.” Like promising Venom he wouldn’t chase him to San Francisco. But then chases him to San Francisco right away. I don’t think he ever should have LET Venom go to San Francisco. But once he did, and then broke his word, I like the character beat of, “Man, even these scumbags don’t respect me.” That was pretty powerful in the moment.
Sean Whitmore: It’s a good callback, but it stands out as so weird that Venom didn’t bring that up in any of the 3 previous chapters
Flavio Sette: I dug that stuff happened this issue plot-wise at least, and the fight’s pretty good, but it’s mostly shots of all the characters facing off at the same time and it’s just way too busy.
Flavio Sette: Yeah, Venom loves to make fun of Peter.
Sean Whitmore: “Since I’m on Venom’s side now…” Oh, kiss my ass, Peter.
Brian Cronin: Yeah
Brian Cronin: Also, his whole ignoring MJ thing is weird
Brian Cronin: Since he could easily talk to her there.
Brian Cronin: So ignoring her seemed to serve no purpose.
Brian Cronin: Except to highlight, “WE’RE FIGHTING”
Tom A. @guest12611265 To be fair, he has important stuff to do.
Brian Cronin: But that’s the thing, he DOESN’T.
Brian Cronin: They don’t go right after Carnage.
Flavio Sette: “Only MJ could talk me out of doing this, oh, hi there, MJ, sorry, can’t talk to you right now”.
Brian Cronin: If they did, then fine.
Brian Cronin: But they DON’T go right after Carnage.
Brian Cronin: They “regroup.”
Brian Cronin: Despite Carnage slaughtering people throughout their “regrouping.”
Tom A.: Hell, Morbius can apparently follow them by scent.
Flavio Sette: Good point, Tom.
Sean Whitmore: It was super important that Cloak and Morbius don’t get any hint that Spidey knows MJ
Brian Cronin: And despite Carnage not actually being hard to follow at all.
Brian Cronin: But they all leave and Spider-Man is there by himself!
Brian Cronin: He could have quickly said something to MJ.
Brian Cronin: Instead of just ignoring her.
Brian Cronin: It’s interpersonal conflict just because we say so.
Brian Cronin: What this whole crossover has been, in effect, is Team Carnage being on a train track and Team Venom being right behind them on a train track.,
Sean Whitmore: This issue is probably a pretty good indicator of how many people see this entire storyline.
Brian Cronin: But they just stop every once in a while to let Team Carnage get ahead
Brian Cronin: Because they can’t resolve things just yet.
Brian Cronin: So they just let them get away for…reasons.
Brian Cronin: Good point, Sean. This really is sort of the epitome of the crossover
Tom A. : Yeah, this REALLY didn’t need to be 14 parts.
Flavio Sette: Yeah, this is, what, the third time Team Carnage has escaped by destroying the place they were at and booking it?
Flavio Sette: Same beats, repeated ad nauseum.
Sean Whitmore: Y’know what this issue feels like? One of those animated-series comics where they’re not allowed to change anything because they know it won’t be picked up in the cartoon.
Tom A.: And I’m guessing it won’t be the last.
Sean Whitmore: Even down to Team Carnage arriving in a limo, like they took a break between this and whoever they were killing last issue
Flavio Sette: Hell, it feels like a lot of cartoons that have like one main villain and the villain has to get away every single episode.
Sean Whitmore: They show up, Team Venom shows up, they fight, everyone goes their separate ways
Brian Cronin: Excellent comparison, Sean.
Flavio Sette: Next issue: more callbacks to Infinity War, Deathlok in cyberspace and a New Warrior joins the fight!
Flavio Sette: Honestly, Firestar’s probably my favorite New Warrior at that.
Brian Cronin: It is like Web of Spider-Man is the tie-in comic book to the main Spider-Man books.
Brian Cronin: “We all know nothing major is going to happen in our tie-in issues”
Flavio Sette: Heh, so true.
Sean Whitmore: Poor Web Of. Always the bridesmaid.
Tom A.: No wonder there’s never been a Web of volume 2.
Brian Cronin: There was, Tom, about a decade ago. Fred Van Lente did some good stuff for it.
Brian Cronin: It had a bizarre history.
Flavio Sette: It eventually got cancelled during Mackie and Byrne’s big relaunch, right?
Flavio Sette: Or was Web Of cancelled before that?
Brian Cronin: Created to be a team-up series without the team-ups being codified
Brian Cronin: Then that was dropped.
Brian Cronin: Then it became a political comic book.
Brian Cronin: Then that was dropped.
Brian Cronin: Then it became “The third Spider-Man book where nothing major will ever happen”
Sean Whitmore: I remember on Christopher Priest’s blog, he struggled with coming up for a reason for each title to exist.
Brian Cronin: Then it became “The FOURTH Spider-Man book where nothing major will ever happen.”
Sean Whitmore: ASM was the flagship, Spectacular was Peter’s ESU cast, and Web was…at large.
Brian Cronin: Then the Clone Saga came out and it ended when Ben took over as Spider-Man
Flavio Sette: Ah.
Brian Cronin: With Sensational replacing it.
Brian Cronin: Which, once Dan Jurgens left it
Brian Cronin: Then became the fourth Spider-Man book where nothing major will ever happen.
Sean Whitmore: Had a brief but potent Wieringo run, though!
Brian Cronin: Great, fun stuff by DeZago and Wieringo, agreed.
Flavio Sette: By the way, Web Of Spider-Man has gotta be the second worst name for Spidey title, after Peter Parker: Spectacular Spider-Man.
Flavio Sette: It never made sense to me to put Spider-Man’s name in the title.
Brian Cronin: It sort of made sense for the context, which was that it was a team-up book.
Brian Cronin: So it was characters coming into the “Web of Spider-Man.”
Flavio Sette: Web Of Spider-Man makes sense, but yeah, it’s just not as exciting or cool as Amazing, Adjectiveless or Spectacular (no Peter Parker:)
Brian Cronin: Agreed
Brian Cronin: Okay, next issue, for some reason…Deathlok!
Flavio Sette: This crossover’s about to get very ’90s very fast.
Brian Cronin: VIRTUAL REALITY!
Flavio Sette: ’90s to the max!
Sean Whitmore: That shoulda been the title of the issue
Sean Whitmore: “And now…Deathlok! For some reason.”
Flavio Sette: “And lo there came… a Deathlok! For, like, reasons”
Brian Cronin: “Like, seriously, it makes sense!”
Brian Cronin: “Somehow”