Saturday, May 14, 2016

Trade Tales! - Ultimate Spider-Man Voume 11: Carnage

Well, it’s time for another adventure from the Ultimate Spider-Man series. As for Captain America: Civil War, I really enjoyed it. While I do feel that our Friendly Neighborhood Web-Crawler felt shoe-horned in, I really liked Tom Holland in the role. It’s too soon to tell if he’s the best Peter Parker/Spider-Man, but he was good. I still wish Black Panther didn’t get pushed back for another Spider-Man movie, but it is what it is. I’ll stop complaining about it… for now.

Spider-man and his world has a sci-fi feel to it, so that’s why I’ve included it here this month. Plus, the story itself is another one of those “science gone wrong” stories, and those are fun, right? Carnage has the usual team of Bendis and Bagley on it. It’s pretty much the same team from the last volume without Art Thibert. The trade contains Ultimate Spider-Man #60-65. So, let’s see Peter get put through the wringer once more…

Ultimate Spider-Man Volume 11: Carnage
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Mark Bagley
Inks: Scott Hanna with John Dell
Letters: J.D.Smith
Colors: Chris Eliopoulos

We start the arc with Doctor Curt Conners having a nightmare about turning into the Lizard and killing his son. Elsewhere, Spider-Man is out and he finds the cops heading to a disturbance. It turns out some nut in armor is robbing a museum. He heads in and takes care of the guy, but Spider-Man gets seriously injured. Instead of heading to the hospital, he heads to Empire State University and finds Conners at his lab. Since Conners already knows Peter’s ID, Peter asks him to stich him up. After Peter is stitched up, he heads out. After he leaves, Conners takes a look at Peter’s blood and is amazed to see his blood. Even his assistant, Ben Reilly (yep), sees it and is shocked.

The next day, Conners contacts Peter who skipped school due to his injures. The two meet and Conners ask Peter if he could experiment on his DNA. Peter is hesitant about it at first, but he says yes. A couple of months pass and we find Spider-Man trying to stop the Punisher from killing a villain. He webs those two up and heads over to Empire State to get stitched up again. He asks Conners if anything has been done with the sample and Conners says he’ll show him tomorrow. After Peter leaves, Conners talks to Ben in the back and we find out that the sample has grown into a small fetus.
"I see this working out so well," I sarcastically say.

Sometime later, Ben comes back to the lab and finds the fetus gone. He also finds out that a guard has been killed. The thing then kills a couple and starts to grow into a symbiote similar to Venom. Conners finds out about the death at the school when he returns. The symbiotic-like being also starts to exhibit Peter’s memories, so it heads over to the Parker household. It finds Gwen who had just returned from the mall and kills her by sucking her life energy. Aunt May is the first one to find Gwen’s corpse. She then contacts Peter.

Peter immediately returns home. After they answer questions, they end up staying at the Watsons’ house. While he’s asleep, he remembers that someone mentioned something similar happening at Empire State. He then notices Conners sulking around his house and confronts him. It’s revealed that Doc Conners mixed Peter’s DNA with his own DNA. He also used Richard Parker’s notes on the black suit to create the creature. Naturally, Peter’s peeved but he can’t do much about it when the creature comes back.

Peter fights the creature and it spans over some of the city. During the fight, the creature starts turning into his father, Richard Parker. Realizing he has to destroy it, Peter gets it over to a high smokestack and watches it burn. Peter heads back to Empire State to chastise Conners more and tells him to turn himself in. Conners turns himself in but Ben Reilly is able to keep a sample for himself. After all of this, Peter realizes he’s done being Spider-Man.

At school, he and MJ have to clean out her locker. Flash decides to be an ass (sorry, but he is) and this sets MJ off. A teacher ends up getting hurt, so her, Peter, Liz Allen, Flash, and, Kong put in Saturday detention. A lot of stuff is said and it’s revealed that Flash had a thing for Gwen. Ultimately, Peter ends up leaving to go sulk by himself. He comes across a mugging realizes he can’t step away from being Spider-Man. The trade ends with him stopping the mugging.

This was another good one for the most part. It was a straight-up sequel to the “Venom” arc with some elements returning like Richard Parker’s work and Doc Conners. Remember when I said that Conners would return? Well, he came back alright and brought trouble with him. This was an interesting way to have him here. Instead of his Lizard persona (which we really haven’t seen in the series), he get his scientific side for it all. Again we have someone doing something with Peter’s DNA and having it go wrong. Instead of a scientific miracle, we get a creature who causes some carnage (had to say it) on the city and Peter’s life.

Like Venom, Carnage is science gone wrong in this universe. I did think it was interesting that it’s not a symbiote in this rendition. I know little about Carnage in general, so I didn’t see anything wrong with it. I also liked the callbacks to other things in Spidey’s history like Ben Reilly. I thought all of that was handled well. Just know that it’s not over with Peter’s DNA. You might know what’s coming next.

Then we get Gwen Stacy’s death. I have to say that I’m not a big fan of this part. She just found out the secret in the last arc and now, she’s dead. At least Peter didn’t accidentally kill her by trying to save her, but still. It is a shocking death that some might have not seen coming. I’m still not sure how to feel about it since I liked Gwen in this series. One good thing that does come from it is the aftermath. We see almost everyone from Gwen’s life feeling it even Flash Thompson who was just horrible here. We even have Aunt May trying to contact Gwen’s estranged mom again and getting nothing. That was a powerful scene. We also have Peter sorting it all out and wondering if all his heroics are useless.

As usual, the artwork is good. I’m feeling like Milli Vanilli’s concert when they were revealed as fakes when I say that. Everything looks good from the pencils to the colors. The action flows well and the small moments are pretty well-realized. The scenes where Carnage sucks the life energy out of his victims are done well and don’t get too gory. I don’t have much negative to say about the trade. Gwen’s death is a sore thumb for me. There’s also a part of me that felt this was really brisk and not in a good way. Other than those things and a couple of small things, this was good.

Unmaskings/Reveals of Spider-Man: 1
When Peter fights Carnage, he’s pretty much in his sleep gear and unmasked. The fight even gets into some public places. Luckily, no one notices his identity. It was a weird move on that part but I understand it. He literally had no time to suit up since Carnage was a threat. It also calls back to Peter’s final fight with Venom. Still, you’d think he’d where something over his face…

Total Unmaskings/Reveals of Spider-Man: 13

-Peter vs. The Punisher – It’s Spider-Man kicking some Punisher butt. That’s a highlight to me in every way.

-The Aftermath of Gwen’s death – While I'm not hot on Gwen’s death, the way it effects everyone is well done.

-Peter vs. Carnage – The fight between the two was pretty epic. Having him out of the costume does make it more personal too.

-Mary Jane vs Flash Thompson – Flash deserved that book to the head. I would have punched him myself.

In the end, this was a good one even though it did have one thing I didn’t like. Even though Gwen’s death was a sticking point, everything else was good. Well, that’s all I got for tonight. I have to nurse my legs from my run. Peace, God Bless, and don’t mess with clones. 

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