$4! I somehow paid less for the first appearance of Carnage than the second! How? Why? Where? I have this itch in the back of my mind that I got this at a comic shop in the Orlando area visiting family. How wild would it be if that was true? I remember going to this store. It was unusual, it was kind of off by itself, not in a strip mall, in a building with a lot of windows. I feel like it might’ve shared the space with a bike shop? I remember going there, and kinda think I bought this there. Crazy, the things you remember. You can really feel the “we are marketing to 13-year olds” on this cover. Renae Witterstaetter helps out Bob on colors this time. Spidey is being flown to Venoms’ remote island by his old pal. The Human Torch. Spidey recaps the situation to Torch/us, lets us know he’s once again trotted out Reed’s sonic gun, and they land on the island. As they move inland, Spidey muses that he violated his own sense of responsibility by leaving Venom here instead of taking him back to The Vault, and admits to himself it was because he was afraid.
Weird coloring error on Spidey’s legs, there.
Venom, who Spider-Man pointed out just last issue has never been able to solidify his symbiote, runs it under the sand and up into Johnny’s face, extinguishing him and forcing him into the ocean. He also destroys the sonic gun. Things re looking grim! We cut away to Carnage killing his way through the offices of a union boss before returning to the battle. A desperate, drowning Johnny Storm uses his nova flame to break loose, but also takes himself out of the fight for awhile. Spider-Man lures Venom inland to give Johnny some space to recover, but Venom’s on top of him almost immediately. He’s about to smash Spider-Man with a tank when Johnny zaps him with a sonic beam from the Fantasticar, having “reset the sound system to match Reed’s gun.” Nice call, Johnny.
Carnage chases the guy to a waiting helicopter. As he tosses it off the building, boss and pilot inside, he makes it clear he’s got nothing against Sutcliff or his company. This is just a fun afternoon for him.
The first steps toward trying to take Venom from villain to “anti-hero.” The first steps in a dumb direction that continues to this day.
Wrongheaded or not, still an interesting team-up. The Torch conveniently gets an emergency call from the FF and leaves the spider guys to their business. Venom says his “other” can sense its offspring, and he can lead them to Carnage, and they swing off.
Spidey and Venom each grab onto one of Carnage’s arms, but he smashes them together and throws them through opposite walls. Spider-Man is shocked by how much stronger than Venom Carnage is, but he doesn’t have much time to think about that. A woman downstairs is banging on the ceiling saying the noise woke her baby, and Carnage tears through the floor and grabs the kid in his tendrils. He throws the baby out a window, and Spidey and Venom race to catch it. They’re forced to try to web the kid, and while Spidey misses, Venom doesn’t.
Once again, JJJ is at the mercy of a villain. You’d think he’d have gone nuts by now. Bagley’s Venom reigns in Erik Larsen’s ridiculousness and gets him to a middle ground between the slavering, 3-ft.-jawed nonsense of Larsen and McFarlane’s original design. No big stupid tongue at all, even. If only that had lasted…