Written by David Michelinie and illustrated by Steven Butler, Spider-Man: The Mortal Past is a Spider-Man story focusing on Carnage. Published by Marvel Comics in 1994, the story originally appeared in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man Annual issue #28 and followed Carnage’s brief escape from incarceration.
Set shortly after the events of the epic storyline, Maximum Carnage, The Mortal Past saw Cletus Kasady reconnect with an old friend.
What happens in The Mortal Past?
Cletus Kasady is being transported to the high security prison known as The Vault. He is shackled, strapped down, gagged and surround by an energy field, supposedly giving him no opportunity to escape.
But the transport crew underestimate Kasady, and he manages to break free of his bonds, transforming into Carnage in the process. Carnage kills everyone in sight, and despite some last minute (and unexpected) intervention from Spider-Man, he escapes.
Carnage doesn’t go far, and instead makes his way to a nearby lumber mill. But Carnage’s arrival is no coincidence as the mill is owned by ‘Billy’ Bentine – Cletus Kasady’s childhood friend.
The reason Carnage has sought out Billy, is because he wants to kill him. Traditionally, Carnage picks his victims at random, but on this occasion he wants to switch things up by killing someone he has a personal connection to – and someone who is successful.
During an exchange between Carnage and Billy, Carnage learns that Billy’s life is not as perfect as it appears. In recent times Billy has become a gambling addict, has lost personal relationships as a result, and has built up crippling debt.
Because of the many problems in his life, Billy was about to steal company finances and head to Mexico, but his plan was interrupted by Carnage. Carnage finds this situation humorous and almost considers not killing Billy, as he feels Billy’s death will be less satisfying, but decides to press forward regardless.
Just as Carnage moves in for the kill, Spider-Man arrives. A fight breaks out between Spidey and Carnage, giving Billy the opportunity to escape.
Realising he can’t keep running forever, Billy turns back and confronts Carnage. Billy tells Carnage he’s not afraid to die, because he knows that only Carnage is the monster here – his friend, Cletus would never do such terrible things.
Carnage disagrees, and to prove that he is as sick and twisted as his symbiote, he reverts back to Cletus Kasady. As soon as the transformation takes place, Spider-Man takes the opportunity to strike and knocks Cletus out.
Billy had deliberately deceived his former friend to aid Spider-Man and bring his reign of terror to an end. And as Cletus is taken away and incarcerated in The Vault, Billy begins the first step on his road to recovery, by attending a Gamblers Anonymous meeting.
Is Spider-Man: The Mortal Past worth a read?
Although it is a fairly short story at just 25-pages long, The Mortal Past is a great read which offers insight into the warped mind of Cletus Kasady. Unlike Maximum Carnage or Absolute Carnage, it provides the opportunity for a stand alone Spider-Man/Carnage tale that requires no long-term commitment or additional reading.
The inclusion of Billy as a former friend of Cletus, infuses the story with a moral, as well as a satisfying ending – with Cletus getting his comeuppance due to his own arrogance. The writing is tight and the artwork from Steven Butler is top notch – some of the best of the ‘90s era of Spidey stories.
Has The Mortal Past been adapted for film?
To date, The Mortal Past has not been adapted for film, and is unlikely to be. This is a short story which works perfect for the medium it was intended, and unless a filmmaker uses ideas from this comic, it is unlikely to form the basis of a movie.
Thank you for taking the time to visit Don’t Tell Harry to read this post about Spider-Man: The Mortal Past. For more Spider-Man-related content, be sure to check out the recommended reads below.
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