Welcome back, fans of the Unspoken! Tis the season to be more loving and giving. So, what better way for me to show you my love and be more giving than to give you my last installment of the Maximum Carnage epic?! What’s that, you say? Get on with it? Well then, let us begin.
This part of the story begins with J. Jonah Jameson actually looking concerned about his hometown and stating how someone needs to do something. When he enters his office, lo and behold, a chance to do just that appears because Spidey and Co. are there and have something they haven’t had in the past seven issues…a plan! They want ol’ Triple J. to publish an article with an invitation for both teams to finish this at Carnage’s home sweet home, the orphanage he grew up in.
Jonah, being the epic ass he is, immediately begins badmouthing everyone there and saying how he won’t help out in the slightest. (Oh how quickly we change our minds, eh fellow Symbifans?!) This is until Venom’s long, Gene Simmons-like tongue darts from his mouth, making a slurping noise! Jonah has an immediate change of heart.
Later, while in the midst of his murderous spree, Carnage spies a newspaper and impales the man reading it. Reading it himself, he of course takes the bait! (Not there the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, is he?!) He immediately heads there. Upon arriving at the rather decrepit old orphanage, Carnage takes his cohorts on a type of trip through memory lane. As he reminiscences about past horrors, he gets too wrapped up in his own thoughts, leaving himself vulnerable as Spider-Man and Co. make their presence known! But before the battle begins, we’re taken back to the place where our “friendly neighborhood cyborg” AKA Deathlok is still pinned to a skyscraper! (Seriously, the dude is STILL there!) But, thanks to the iron fist of….well….Iron Fist, he is broken free and taken to safety.
We now take you back to our battle already in progress. All hell has broken loose! Heroes and villains alike are being thrashed everywhere you look! Venom takes this time to blast Carnage with the Spidey Gang’s “liberated” sonic blaster but to no effect! The same can’t be said for Firestar’s microwave blasts, though! (She’d be great for gas station burritos! …and now I’m hungry.) Anyway, Carnage falls! He is beaten! Venom moves in for the kill but is stopped by Spider-Man. As this occurs, Shriek takes this moment to kind of “pimp slap” Cletus, clawing his face. This draws blood and Carnage is back to full power!
Yes folks, Carnage is at full strength and boy is he pumped! After teasing the good guys a bit at their failure to put him away (childish, right?!), the battle begins anew! During this, Shriek actually begins monologuing about how her power, amped by the chaos that is Carnage, has actually been driving the day-to-day citizens into crazed mobs! (She actually says this all out loud like a mad scientist in an old comic book! The funny part is that she even catches herself doing this and laughs at how she’s “talking to herself like some comic book character!” Oh, the irony!) But I digress. Spidey begins to wonder if perhaps this is what is making most of his team act so violent. During the battle, Venom and Spider-Man notice that Carnage shies away from Firestar’s microwave heat blasts.
Venom tells her to pour it on and finish him once and for all. The shocker? Spider-Man agrees! Reluctant, Firestar begins her attack. It starts to work. The threat of Carnage is about to end! That’s when Spidey comes to his senses and makes her stop. This enrages Venom and he knocks Spider-Man flying. He advances on Shriek but the sonics of her blasts prove to be too much for his symbiote. He falls. Shriek and Carnage then beat the holy hell out of Venom and swing off to torture him more at their leisure! Meanwhile, Team Spider-Man lies broken and bleeding. Spidey prays for hope. That’s when hope arrives…in the form of Captain America! (Hold for applause!)
As Spider-Man, Firestar, and Captain America regroup at the near-empty Avengers HQ (Those Avengers! Never around when you need ’em!), Spider-Man’s ribs are finally put on the mend with the help of some Stark tech. While checking the computer files on Carnage’s “family outing,” Cap realizes that the Avengers computer network is being hacked by an outside source! Pulling the culprits on-screen, they discover it to be Deathlok and Iron Fist! (Now, You mean to tell me that Tony Stark has the technology to heal Spider-Man’s ribs but his computer isn’t somehow protected against hackers?! Gosh, the people of the Marvel Universe should really feel safe! Good one, Tony! Sheesh!)
Anywho, all involved decide upon an alliance, but first, Spidey decides to check up on his wife. (About time, Mr. Parker!) As this is transpiring, what’s left of Team Spider-Man are on the hunt for Carnage and Co. plus the captured Venom. The trail, however, turns cold until Carnage’s “family” attacks from the rear!
Morbius is nearly destroyed by Carrion’s touch, and Black Cat is beaten down by the combined might of Demogoblin and Doppelganger! Things would have turned deadly real quick if not for the timely intervention of the new hero, Nightwatch! While this is going on, Venom is at the mercy of Carnage and Shriek within the torch of the Statue of Liberty. Sonics are fired on him again and again as he is chained above a roaring fire! (And all of us symbiote fans know just how much symbiotes love loud sound and flame!)
Spider-Man has arrived home to his distraught wife. The loving reunion doesn’t last long, though, as the radio comes to life with a news report about an attempted breakout at the police precinct with hostages caught within! Spidey arrives on scene and does his thing with experienced grace and determination. Meanwhile, the battered superheroes leave to lick their wounds and rethink their methods. How will good triumph over evil with almost all of Team Spider-Man injured?! Easy. Spidey arrives with new back up! Things are starting to look up!
When we last saw Venom, he was being turned into a living s’more by Carnage and Shriek. Now? He’s just being roasted alive by Carnage alone. (Seriously, this is like the Deathlok thing all over again! Someone, help the poor guy out!) But, while Carnage toasts Venom literally, Morbius and Nightwatch suddenly crash through the Statue of Liberty’s torch! They have Demogoblin and Doppelganger on the run!
We then cut scene to Spidey and his new crew. They speed through the New York skies, trying to find any sign of Team Carnage. They don’t find all of them, just one of the most dangerous…Shriek! Somehow, this little minx has managed to sneak off on her own and is using her considerable power to create utter chaos in the good citizenry! The heroes strike with precision and force, and, truth be told, it’s almost a stalemate until….Wham! (Not the band. The sound effect. Sorry, Deadpool.) She’s knocked out by a certain iconic shield thrown by Captain America! (Were you expecting someone else?!) Shriek is captured!
We then cut back to the action within Lady Liberty. Nightwatch and Morbius aren’t doing that badly as a team! As Carnage watches on, protecting his hostage, Demo and Doppel are being whupped! That is, until the sun starts to rise outside, and all good vampires (even living ones like Morbius) have to retreat for the day. Nightwatch grabs the blood-drinker quickly and flies away to safety.
Meanwhile, with Shriek incapacitated, Spidey and Friends begin to calm the angry mobs. Yes, things are finally looking up! That is until Demogoblin and Doppelganger arrive on the scene and free her from capture! But the heroes are ready this time! Having superior teamwork on their side, they begin to triumph! Even the populace, tired of being used, start to get in on the action! They actually throw things at the villains! This enrages Shriek and she turns her powers up to eleven! Even the heroes are having trouble resisting it! But they eventually do, just in time to see themselves surrounded by the same New Yorkers they just freed!
The next part takes us back to the horrific scene within Lady Liberty. As Venom continues to roast, he finally begs for mercy! (Can this be true? Can the “Lethal Protector” really be a total wussy?!) Cackling with glee, Carnage raises his stolen sonic blaster to cause even more pain. Venom sends tendrils of his symbiotic other down the barrel, causing it to malfunction! He then snaps his manacles, smashes Carnage a good one in the face, and swings to freedom! (We didn’t doubt ya for a minute, V-Man!) At that moment, in a familiar church, the missing Cloak sits vigil, awaiting….what? Even he isn’t sure of the answer.
But back to Spider-Man and the rest of the heroes. Team Spidey is definitely losing this one, folks! For every crazed New Yorker they subdue, ten more rise to take their place! As Shriek watches with her new “family” from the rooftops, she soon decides to join in herself.
That’s when Carnage himself appears! Angered that the lot of them have been maiming and killing without him, he attacks the ringleader….Shriek! This makes Doppelganger angry and he strikes out at “daddy dearest”! But alas, Carnage is too strong for the little guy and beats him within an inch of his life! (Jerry! Jerry!) To add insult to injury, he then kicks the limp form from the rooftop. It lands on the unforgiving concrete below! (Talk about tough love!)
Demogoblin then decides he’s sick of this little gang himself and turns to go. There’s only one problem with that. While this was all going on, Shriek lost mental control of the crowd below! This is also when a blinding light hits the villains. Turning, they see (drum roll please!) Dagger has returned!
Both sides of this war stand transfixed by the light that is Dagger! No one moves. That is until Shriek…well, shrieks in outrage that the victim of her proudest murder is not deceased after all! ( You know, that’s just gotta suck! I mean, ya try and murder some people…) Shriek files into a frenzy, attacking Dagger with all she has. What does Dagger do? She shows her the light! She actually starts to heal Shriek’s tortured mind! (Hippie!) It starts to work too until, at the last moment, Shriek gets even more crazed and lashes out with a furious blast! Spidey is there to rescue her this time, however, and gets her to safety.
It takes mere moments for the villains to recover and turn to strike. As they do, they notice that the heroes have fled?! Only Spider-Man stands as the last line of defense! Carnage laughs maniacally as he leads the charge! All of them then take turns beating the hell out of our hero! Spider-Man just keeps pulling himself back to his feet! (Now that, folks, is the very definition of a hero! Sorry. Something in my eyes….sniffle.) That’s when a blast of energy hits Shriek from behind.
Turning, they see Deathlok strapped to a high-tech weapon of some sort! Spider-Man has dubbed it the “Good Bomb.” It releases amplified calming alpha waves from the hero’s minds! Sounds lame, I know, but the effects are fantastic! Carrion is hit so hard that he returns to his human form! Demogoblin sees the error of his ways and turns to flee in terror but collapses instead! Shriek drops to her knees in horror! But Carnage? He resists the power of the machine for so long and so hard that his heart stops! He drops, defeated. Team Carnage is finished at last! The villains are taken to the proper authorities and the heroes disperse, understandably exhausted. Spidey sits in Central Park, lost in thought. That’s when an angered Venom appears! It seems the V-Man is ticked because he was tortured with no help and was robbed of his chance to defeat Carnage himself. Or was he? Carnage pulls himself from a fountain near the two heroes, alive and kicking!
And now, the finale of Maximum Carnage! As I said, Carnage is alive! How? We don’t know for sure. Spider-Man theorizes that, in a moment of desperation, Carnage created a copy of his symbiote and placed it on a nearby victim. (After 14 parts to this story, let’s just roll with it!) However this happened, he’s back and wastes no time in attacking both Spidey and Venom at the same time!
It’s mostly between Venom and Carnage with Spider-Man caught in the middle, trying to talk some sense into the both of them! (Yeah, great plan, Spidey! I’m sure they’ll listen to reason, shake hands, and enter police custody after singing a round of White Lion’s “When the Children Cry.” Damn, just dated myself!) Back to the action! Carnage, still disoriented from the weapon from earlier, takes a real beating at the hands of Venom, so he retreats. Spider-Man then tries to reach out to Venom. Venom then “reaches out” himself…with his fist, shattering both sides of Spidey’s ribs before perusing Carnage! (Ugh! Again with the ribs!)
This time, though, he does the smart thing and goes to the damn hospital. While there, he meets up with his wife and goes home to rest up a bit. While this is going on, Carnage is losing it! I mean, more than usual! He even crashes through the wall of the cell he once shared with Eddie “Venom” Brock, where the nightmare that is Carnage began, to find some solace! He finds none as Venom crashes in after him, beats him down again, and forces yet another retreat!
Meanwhile, more rested, Spider-Man is ready to head back out. MJ then approaches him. Now, you expect another argument but, surprise, surprise, she actually gives him a kiss for good luck! (Kind of late in the game to give your approval here, Mary Jane! I mean, 14 issues!)
Carnage, on the other hand, is in the fetal position within the orphanage he grew up in, surrounded by the ghosts of his past! (Man, that weapon sure messed him up, huh?!) This doesn’t last, though, as Venom finds him once again! But when the beating becomes near-lethal, Spider-Man interrupts! As Venom and Spidey have words, Carnage retreats for the third time! (Jeez! Someone stop this madman! Am I right, readers?!) This forces yet another uneasy alliance between the two. They swing off in pursuit. Where is ol Carnage this time? Why, digging up the corpse of his mother at a nearby graveyard of course!
This time he is attacked by both Spider-Man, Venom, and the returned Black Cat! But, even though Spidey gets in the way again and again, Venom hits Carnage so hard, he starts to regain his senses! This is about to take a turn for the very worst! Or is it? Venom, sensing the danger, crashes Carnage and himself through the fence of a nearby power company! The result is a massive explosion! That’s about it. Carnage is defeated at last, Venom lives to fight another day, and Spider-Man, looking to the gravestones near him, decides it’s time to put this whole mess behind him and go home.
Dedicated to my mom, Pam Bowen-Metz, who has always believed in my writing talent, even when I didn’t. I love you, mom! Thank you for 38 years of continued support!