Here’s another one I initially skipped. Not uncommon in the early 90s. I wasn’t exactly wowed by Cardiac and I only had so many dollars. He was not the villain I demanded, no matter how much the cover tried to gaslight me. Behind that Bagley cover, Chris Marrinan and Keith Williams supply some guest art, as Bags no doubt passes out from exhaustion after doing 6 issues of ASM in 3 months while also doing New Warriors, joining regulars David Michelinie and Bob Sharen. In a dockside warehouse, Spider-Man is snapping pix of some guys up to no good.
Ripped from today’s headlines! 30 years ago. Things get comic book-y very quickly as they turn on the “high output fog lamps” the guy happened to request in the car and see a reflection from our hero’s camera, and then launch… high tech flying drone defenses?
I mean, this seems like something even “regular” rich folks wouldn’t have access to, Marvel Universe or no. Spidey webs the dumb things and smashes them together before high tailing out of there for The Daily Bugle to turn in his pictures. Ben Urich is very happy with the results, and then Peter Parker is off to a 50s-themed dance with MJ, Flash, and Felicia Hardy, who is still dating Flash. But as Flash gets up to get them some drinks…
She lost her powers back in ASM 343, we may recall. For now. Pete & MJ grab a late edition of The Bugle to see his photos in Ben’s story, and then we cut to Cardiac stalking the Brunker guy from earlier. He’s come to his home to destroy all his property.
Not exactly making me feel like Cardiac is a villain, here. Cardiac flies off on his weird flying thing, and the next morning, Ben & JJJ are discussing how Cardiac is using Ben’s articles to pick his targets as Peter arrives. But Jonah insists they keep publishing, while also contacting the police, because generally speaking, if it’s not about Spider-Man, he’s usually on the right side of things. And then we cut to something pretty important.
No one could know they just saw the first use of Carnage’s powers when this published, but there it is. It’s been awhile, but we saw Cletus’ first appearance in ASM 344, and saw the implication that the Venom symbiote left part of itself behind when Venom escaped prison in 345. Now we’ve seen some weird red stuff and Cletus talking to someone who isn’t there, so we’re almost ready. Anyway, the next day, Peter and Ben confer about their latest piece. They’ve warned the people in it, but Peter intends to go make sure Cardiac can’t do anything to them. And at the same time, Cardiac, in his identity as the famous Dr. Wirtham, cancels his evening dinner with the mayor, so we’re on a collision course. What’s so bad about rich people who ruined countless lives having their stuff blown up again? Cardiac’s MO was a lot more violent in his previous appearances, he doesn’t seem to be hurting anyone, just hurting their ill-gotten property. This plays even worse now than it did then. So, later, Spider-Man arrives at the factory of TechToys, who sold toys that hurt kids and just rebranded and kept at it, to keep Cardiac from doing the right then. And then Cardiac shows up, on cue, gives their security fair warning to leave, and starts blowing things up.
Spider-Man is constantly apprehending criminals he has no authority to bother, where does he get off? This kind of story never works. “I mean, I break laws every day, but I do it the RIGHT way!” And at least when it’s Punisher or Darkhawk he’s berating like this, they actually really hurt and/or kill people. Cardiac just wants to stop kids from being injured. This is bad. But, dumb or not, it’s fightin’ time. As the super guys square off, that guard leader from earlier climbs up in a crane, intent on trying to help. Cardiac eventually lets off a big electrical discharge from his staff as Spider-Man tries to swipe it, blasting them in different directions. A seemingly unconscious Spider-Man goes flying into a pile of boxes, but Cardiac is blasted into a vat of molten plastic. As he staggers away, the fumes overwhelm him, and he falls onto an assembly line.
Spidey did tell that guy to get out of there. Now he’s trapped in a pretty bad spot. How will he get out? We’ll see next time. The letter page runs the cover of ASM 361, to prime you to get excited for “a major new Spider-Man villain,” which is, of course, Carnage.