Favorite Stories: Maximum Carnage Part 3

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Well, look who it is! Back for more, eh? If you’re reading this then I’m SURE you’ve already read parts 1 and 2. Why else would you be here? The smell?

As we round home on our story Carnage and his gang of freaks have kidnapped Venom and have really handed our heroes their asses. Captain America has just arrived, and Iron Fist has rescued Deathlok from the precarious situation Carnage left him in. Will the additions of these heroes turn the tide? Can Spider-Man and Venom get on the same page for once and save the day? Let’s find out!

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Favorite Stories: Maximum Carnage Part 2

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Back for more, huh? Just couldn’t turn down another taste of that sweet 90’s Spider-Man goodness that tastes great going down and then gives you horrible heartburn and you wonder why you keep eating it and then you do it again anyway, could you?

We rejoin our heroes and anti-heroes at a low point. Spider-Man has split from Venom and the Black Cat (who are joined by Cloak, who is still grieving the loss of his partner, Dagger) in their quest to stop Carnage and his maniacs, who seem stronger than ever. They are no closer to stopping them than they were when they started and the casualties are piling up. We’ll cover parts 6-9 here, which is the second rotation through the main Spider-Man titles.

You can read part 1 here and part 3 here.

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Favorite Stories: Maximum Carnage Part 1

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Released: 1993
Took Place In: Spider-Man Unlimited 1-2, Amazing Spider-Man 378-380, Spectacular Spider-Man 201-203, Spider-Man 35-37, Web of Spider-Man 101-103
Written By: Tom DeFalco (Spider-Man Unlimited), David Michelinie (Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Man), Terry Kavanagh (Web of Spider-Man, Spider-Man), J.M. DeMatteis (Spectacular Spider-Man, Spider-Man)
Art By: Ron Lim (Spider-Man Unlimited), Mark Bagley (Amazing Spider-Man), Sal Buscema (Spectacular Spider-Man), Tom Lyle (Spider-Man), Alex Saviuk (Web of Spider-Man)
Characters Involved: Spider-Man, Venom, Carnage, Black Cat, Cloak, Dagger, Firestar, Iron Fist, Deathlok, Captain America, Morbius, Nightwatch, Demogoblin, Doppelganger, Carrion, Shriek

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WTF Moments 46

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So Maximum Carnage is drawing to what promises to be an epic conclusion. Spider-Man and his numerous allies have been run ragged fighting Carnage and his band of murdering psychopaths for days, and the final confrontation is drawing to a close. How are the good guys possibly going to stop this maniac from continuing to slaughter the citizens of New York? Will Firestar use her flame powers to kill Carnage? Will Cloak and Dagger do something awesome to get back at the bad guys for what they’ve been through? Will Captain America or Iron Fist or Deathlok pull something out of their hat at the last second? Or will Venom or Spider-Man overwhelm Carnage with the pure rage and frustrations they’ve been under?

Nope. Love ray.

…What the fuck?

The heroes get a gun that was designed at Rand Industries that literally overwhelms the hatred the bad guys feel with love and compassion. It drives them crazy and makes them see the horror they’ve caused. They feel bad and surrender (except Carnage, but it hits him right in the feels, too). I can’t make this up. I would never make something so stupid up.

What a fucking stupid idea. What the fuck.

The Amazing Spider-Movies! – Part One

Tobey Maguire / Andrew Garfield

Because you demanded it, we’re back with more breakdowns of the super hero movies you love, hate, and love to hate! Last time we covered the terrifying highs and gut wrenching, suicide inducing lows of the Batman franchise. This time we’re going with something a bit lighter, the Sam Raimi and Marc Webb Spider-Man franchises. That’s right, five movies of web slinging, cool villains, not so cool villains, great character moments, horrible character misfires, great casting, worst case scenario casting, all of it. From Raimi to Webb, Dunst/Howard to Stone, Maguire to Garfield, we’ll cover it all.

First up, the one that started it all, and really kicked the super hero movie craze of the early 21st century into gear…

 

Spider-man Movie Poster

Spider-man (2002)

Directed by: Sam Raimi

Starring: Tobey Maguire (Peter Parker/Spider-Man), Willem Dafoe (Norman Osborn/The Green Goblin), Kirsten Dunst (Mary Jane Watson), James Franco (Harry Osborn), Cliff Robertson (Uncle Ben), Rosemary Harris (Aunt May), J. K. Simmons (J. Jonah Jameson), Joe Manganiello (Flash Thompson), Elizabeth Banks (Betty Brant), and Bruce Campbell

Plot: Peter Parker is bit by a genetically modified spider gaining the proportionate strength and agility of a human spider. After his Uncle Ben is killed by a car jacker and he learns the killer is a man he could have stopped before, he tragically learns the lesson ‘with great power must also come great responsibility’. Now, as Spider-Man, he tries to balance fighting crime and the new menace of the Green Goblin with his personal life, which includes his now widowed Aunt May, his best friend (and son of his new enemy) Harry Osborn, and the girl he loves, Mary Jane Watson, as well as a new job taking pictures for J Jonah Jameson and the Daily Bugle.

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Underrated Creator Runs- Marvel part 3

In part 1 I covered the horribly underrated Avengers run by Geoff Johns, and in part 2 I covered Ed Brubaker’s fantastic run on Daredevil.

Today I am going to briefly go over a run that really went under the radar, and it’s too bad because it was awesome, and that’s Rick Remender’s Venom.

Flash Thompson: Venom

Flash Thompson: Venom

While he gained popularity with runs on books like Uncanny X-Force (so good), Secret Avengers (soo good), and more recently Uncanny Avengers (sooooo good), Remender really got my attention with Venom.

Starting in the 90’s, Venom’s popularity rivaled even Spider-Man’s. So Marvel took him from being a scary ass villain and made him a watered down anti-hero. It sold a lot of books, but it took the character’s direction away from him for years and years. Then Mark Millar gave the Venom symbiote to Mac Gargan, the former Scorpion, in his awesome “Marvel Knights Spider-Man” (which I need to go over one day soon). This was a nice change, and it looked like the character was going to be revitalized, but then he got stuck as a bit player in Warren Ellis’ Thunderbolts and Brian Bendis’ Dark Avengers, and nothing of note was ever really done with him.

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Top 10 Spider-Man Villains

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As I argued in the first Not-So-Great Debate, Spider-Man has the greatest rogue’s gallery in all of comics. This menagerie of maniacs, aliens, and general all-around freaks is top-to-bottom awesome. That said, there is definitely a cream of the freakshow crop when it comes to the ol’ webhead’s villains, and with that in mind, here are my top ten:

 

1. Dr. Octopus

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Old bowl cut is one seriously nasty bastard. One of Spidey’s first villains, Doc Ock has been a staple of the rogue’s gallery for over 50 years now. But what puts him at the top of the list? Well, for one, he was responsible for the death of Captain George Stacy, so there’s that. He’s also extremely dangerous, and crazy smart. He formed the Sinister Six, and has led many of their incarnations against Spider-Man. He once held NY hostage with the threat of nuclear annihilation, and didn’t even bother asking for a ransom until AFTER he had armed the bomb and set the timer. He even tried to marry Aunt May (ew) in order to obtain access to an island she had inherited that had a nuclear reactor on it.

More recently, and perhaps most famously, he discovered the beatings he’s taken over the years were killing him, and used his last few months to try to imprint his consciousness into every machine in New York, and used his Sinister Six to essentially hold the whole world hostage before, in his last few days, transferring his consciousness into Spider-Man’s body, leaving Peter Parker to actually die in his nasty old body while he took over the body of Spider-Man!

superior spider-man

After upgrading some tech, and hiring a bunch of henchmen to do his bidding, Ock spent a good bit running around as the “Superior Spider-Man”, wrecking the crap out of Peter’s personal life before eventually giving Peter his body back to do what he couldn’t, which is deal with the next goon on the list. It is his time in Peter’s body, combined with the fact that he actually pulled the switch off and the total bastard way he did it that earns Ock the top spot on the list.

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RETRO SPOILER ALERT! – First Appearances Can Be Deceiving – COPPER AGE? (4 of 4)

Continued from Part 3: The Bronze Age

THE COPPER AGE (1985 – ?)

— “I know pain. Sometimes, I share it… with someone like you!” – Batman (Batman: Year One)

Also referred to as the ‘Modern Age’ of Comics, and is seen as a continuation of the ‘Dark Age’ of Comics. I like to say we’re in the Post-Modern Age, since the current comics barely resemble the comics of the 90’s and it’s been long enough to establish a New Age. This ‘Modern’ Age is often classified with works like Alan Moore’s Watchmen, and Frank Miller’s the Dark Knight Returns.

During this time leading up to today comics evolved into graphic novels. Comic issues were intended as single episodes in a greater story, and usually collected into larger volumes to be sold at book store chains. Many acclaimed, award winning graphic novels came about around this time including: V For Vendetta, the Sandman, Hell-blazer (Constantine), 100 Bullets, ‘Maus’, Fables, American Splendor, Kick-Ass, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Wanted, Red, the Losers, Road to Perdition, A History of Violence, Y: the Last Man, and Grimm Fairy Tales, among others, most of which have been turned into blockbuster films along with a majority of super hero comics.

The Copper Age also covers the mixed bag of comics that was the 90’s when the X-titles reigned supreme, and cross-overs galore flooded comic shops with overprinting and variant cover marketing gimmicks. Comics of this decade were marked by unnecessary (and meaningless, non-permanent) deaths, constantly confusing title cross-overs, ridiculously out of proportion body-types (either steroid muscles, or DDD size boobs), and pointless violence coupled with raging CAPS and EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!!!! Now regardless of all the negatives, there were some pure gold tales that came out of this mess like: The Death of Superman, the Knightfall Saga, etc… This was also the rise of other comic company giants, like Image and Wild-storm, but that’s for another article.

During the 80’s and 90’s the status quo was significantly changed. DC took a page from Marvel when they revamped their entire line of heroes. Some were altered more drastically than others, like Superman. In John Byrne’s ‘THE MAN OF STEEL’ miniseries (1985), Superman’s origin was completely revamped from the start. Superman himself was significantly depowered compared to the god-like Silver Age version and he was made more relatable and down to Earth. His entire cast of supporting characters were also given updates. Most notably, LEX, the original criminal-mastermind was no longer a crazy-ass mad-scientist with desires for world domination, instead he was a ruthless business man who had already conquered the world and had practically built the city of Metropolis! Lex became insanely jealous when this new hero of tomorrow overtook his own spotlight, and vowed to destroy him.

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RETRO SPOILER ALERT! – First Appearances Can Be Deceiving – BRONZE AGE (3 of 4)

Continued from Part 2: The Silver Age

THE BRONZE AGE (1970 to 1985)

— “I am fire and life incarnate! Now and forever — I am PHOENIX!!!” – Jean Grey (Dark Phoenix)

This is considered to be the start of the ‘Dark Age’ of Comics, and with good reason, which continued into the late 90’s (the Copper Age). Some very dark twists to many popular characters backstories were first established during this time such as: (Retro Spoiler Alert!) the Green Goblin killing Spider-man’s girlfriend (Gwen Stacy, not MJ), the demise of Jason Todd (the second Robin) at the hands of the Joker, Elektra’s murder by Bullseye, etc… (BULLSEYE was introduced in Daredevil #131 – 1976, and ELEKTRA in #168 – 1981)

Often disputed between comic fans / historians, this Bronze Era is typically said to have occurred sometime between 1970 and 1985 give or take a couple years. This was a time when comic books became more socially conscious and began featuring real-world issues. Comic books were no longer just an escape from reality, but a mirror of it. This is when the legends behind the most acclaimed adult-themed comics started to creep onto the scene. Writers and artists like Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Jim Lee, George Perez, Joe Quesada, and countless others who are still relevant today, most of whom are still actively in the comic industry today!

The Bronze Age was when there was a resurgence in interest for super heroes in general. Following the cheesy campy spoof that was the Batman 60’s TV series was the first serious, live action, depiction of a comic book, on the silver screen with Superman: The Movie in the late 70’s, and in the 80’s there was the Wonder Woman show and the Incredible Hulk became a Smash Hit! (pun-intended)

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The Not-So-Great Debate #1

The Not-so-Great-Debate: Battle of the Rogues
Batman / Spider-man

One of my favorite things about reading comics is the sheer amount of debates you can have about them. Who is cooler: Batman or Superman? Who is faster: Quicksilver or the Flash? Who would win: the Hulk or the Thing? Burton Batman or Nolan Batman? Married Spider-Man or single Spider-Man? Cyclops’ X-Men or Wolverine’s X-Men? Captain America or Iron Man? Avengers or X-Men?

I’ve always been interested in these conversations. When I worked at a comic book store, one of my favorite things was to listen to the arguments customers would have (especially the younger ones). The best one I ever heard was between three brothers: One was about twelve, the next probably 9 or 10, and the youngest was 7-ish.

They were debating which Robin was the coolest. The oldest loved Jason Todd, the second Robin that was murdered by the Joker, but mostly because of his time as the Red Hood since his unfortunate resurrection. The youngest was ALL ABOUT Tim Drake, and thought the other two were insane to even entertain this notion that there could ever be a Robin that measured up (for my money, he’s right, but that might be a topic for another day). The middle one had a strong argument, as he thought the best Robin was the first one- Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing (and replacement Batman). They went back and forth for probably twenty minutes, and it never devolved into shouting, or name calling, or anything like that. It was really just each kid making their case (“Tim beat the Joker! Without Batman!”). I remembered that conversation recently, and thought that there could be some entertainment value in something like that.

So, I called up Erik Slader (of EpikFAILs.com) and we settled on a topic that we come down on opposite sides of. We’re going to go back and forth, at least until we have each made our cases. If one of us can convince the other that we’re right, all the better, but I wouldn’t hold my breath…

Our first topic of discussion:

“Who has the better villains: Spider-Man or Batman?”

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ComicZombie: The best super-heroes always have awesome villains. Superman has Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Bizarro, and Doomsday; the Flash has Professor Zoom and the Rogues, whereas the X-Men have Apocalypse, Sinister, Magneto (sometimes), Sentinels, the Marauders, and just about every human on Earth; Daredevil has the Kingpin, Bullseye, Lady Bullseye, the Hand, Mr. Hyde, the Owl, and Mr. Fear, while the Fantastic Four have Dr. Doom; and the list goes on and on for the Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and so on and so on.

However, I don’t think there is any debate that the heroes with the greatest villains are: Batman and Spider-Man. I also don’t think there’s any debate that Spider-Man edges out Batman for the title, but that’s why we’re here.

Batman has awesome villains, yes. But the real appeal for his rogues is really all at the top of the list; the heavy hitters, for lack of a better term. Spider-Man’s group of freaks is awesome all the way from the real bigs, like the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Venom, etc to the guys that are practically hopeless, like the Shocker, Hydro Man, Boomerang, Cardiac, and a whole host of others. Granted, most of the appeal is at the top as well, but Spidey has more “A-list” villains than Batman does. His rogue’s gallery as a whole is just better.

ErikSmash!: So the duel Begins… 

Of course both of these dubious super-villain team-ups have their own merits, but on behalf of all Fan-boys and Geek-girls out there, I’m going to have to side with BATMAN’s rogues gallery as the best in all of comic-dom.

I might be a DC loyalist, yet even I can admit that your friendly neighborhood SPIDER-MAN has an all-star cast of costumed crazies, and perhaps even the best rogues gallery.. in the MARVEL universe that is!, but you have got to be shitting me if you think for a second that Spidey’s baddies are anywhere near the archetypal greatness that are the foes of the Dark Knight! Two-Face, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, the Riddler, The JOKER! All these characters are so awesome they often overshadow the hero. It can be argued that as cool as Batman is, it’s his villains that make him legendary, these are tales so psychologically metaphorical they will last the test of time and have already proven their versatility in their various reincarnations over the ‘Ages’ (Gold through Platinum).

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. We are tonight’s entertainment! I only have one question. Where is Harvey Dent?” – the Joker

I’m not going to even bother defending guys like CALENDAR MAN, MAXIE-ZUES, KG-BEAST, KILLER-MOTH, or VENTRILOQUIST, for example, but even those guys have had their moments, and can cause some serious trouble for Gotham’s Knight. However, when it comes to Batman’s rather extensive (and ever-growing) rogue’s gallery, the numerous heavy hitters far exceed those of the bottom of the barrel rejects. So let’s start with the one that is more acclaimed than all of Spider-man’s bad guys put together:

THE JOKER! From his first eerie introduction in Batman #1 to Heath Ledger’s terrifying portrayal in Christopher Nolan’s epic trilogy, this agent of anarchy is the essence of nightmares. Not only that, but as perhaps Batman’s ultimate arch-enemy, you’ve got a perfect foil for one dark and brooding, ever-stoic, crusader of justice, versus: an unstable, unpredictable, laughing terrorist, dressed in a purple suit with makeup and green hair, whose only out to prove that life is meaningless, and doesn’t even care if you get his inside jokes. Denny O Neal once claimed that the Joker is not only one if the greatest comic book villains, but that he’s right up there with the other great villains in all of literature. My favorite thing about the character is that almost everything he does has an ulterior motive, or worse: not motive at all. For instance, when the Joker brutally murders your best friend in a most horrific (albeit humorous) manner there’s a 50/50 chance that it was either a spur of the moment idea that conveniently presented itself, or was simply an elaborate plan to drive you over the edge of sanity itself. Check out ‘The Man Who Laughs’ by Ed Brubaker (featuring a retelling of his first encounter with the Batman, following ‘Year One’), ‘The Killing Joke’ by Alan Moore (one of the most acclaimed and pivotal Joker tales), or better yet: Brian Azzarello’s chilling graphic novel simply entitled, ‘JOKER’!

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