Written by J.M. DeMetteis and illustrated by Mark Bagley, Spider-Man: Shrieking is a four-part story featuring the Spidey villains, Shriek and Carrion. Published in 1994 by Marvel Comics and appearing across the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man issues #390 – #393, the story sees Shriek and Carrion break out of the Ravencroft Institute at a time when Peter Parker/Spider-Man is dealing with emotional issues.
As the story begins, Peter is mentally broken – the result of a number of recent emotional and physically gruelling events (Lifetheft, Maximum Carnage etc). The focus of the story is on capturing Shriek and Carrion, but also working through personal issues which have severely impacted his mental health.
What happens in Spider-Man: Shrieking?
Part One: Behind the Walls
Peter Parker is suffering emotionally. He recently discovered that his parents, Richard and Mary Parker – who seemingly returned from beyond the grave – were nothing but imposters.
The revelation is taking a toll on Peter’s mental health, as well as his relationship with Mary Jane. He is becoming distant and is keen to spend more time as Spider-Man, to escape his problems.
While Peter is busy with his personal life, one of his former foes is dealing with his own issues. The foe is Malcolm McBride, aka Carrion – one of the many villains who rampaged through New York city as part of the ‘Maximum Carnage’ massacre.
McBride is working through a rehabilitation programme at the Ravencroft Institute and while he appears to be making progress, McBride is not so sure. Keen to convince him of his achievements, Ravencroft Director, Dr. Ashley Kafka takes McBride to the holding cell of another patient, Frances Barrison, aka Shriek – yet another villain involved in ‘Maximum Carnage’.
Dr. Kafka believes that seeing a patient who is not making such good progress, will help McBride. However, as soon as Shriek sees McBride, she recognises that he was once Carrion, a former ally, and Shriek frees herself and McBride from their confinement.
Part Two: The Burning Fuse
After escaping Ravencroft Institute, Shriek and a reluctant McBride take shelter in a nearby suburban house. McBride wants to return to Ravencroft, through fear he will transform back into Carrion, but Shriek refuses and begins to act like his surrogate mother – a role she took during ‘Maximum Carnage’.
Spider-Man tracks the pair down and engages in combat with Shriek. But Shriek gets the upper hand, incapacitates Spidey and uses her abilities to transform McBride into Carrion.
Meanwhile, Mary Jane and Aunt May are struggling to deal with the truth about Peter’s Parents. Keen to keep calm and carry on, May tries to ignore the situation, but the stress is too much and she collapses.
Part Three: The Cocoon!
Peter escapes near death at the hands of Shriek and Carrion, and returns home to get some rest. When he awakes he finds a note from Mary Jane and rushes to the hospital to find May in a coma, having suffered a stroke.
The sight of May in a hospital bed proves to be Peter’s breaking point and he returns home frustrated. Unable to take any more emotional pain, Peter cocoons himself in a web.
After spending time away from any outside interference, Peter emerges from the cocoon, rejuvenated and ready to take on Shriek and Carrion. But this newly energised Peter is not going to let his enemies get the better of him again, and is thinking more like a spider and less like a man.
Part Four: Mother Love… Mother Hate!
Spider-Man faces Shriek and Carrion once more, only this time, he doesn’t pull any punches. Displaying a coldness to both foes, Spidey appears to take control of the situation but Shriek manages to knock him out.
While Spidey is unconscious, Shriek gets inside Carrion’s mind. Throughout their entire time away from Ravencroft, Carrion has been wavering in his support for Shriek – favouring his own mother over Shriek the surrogate – and she wants to ensure his loyalty.
Unable to decide what to do, Carrion turns his decaying abilities on himself, to take his own life. Shriek feels genuine concern for her ‘son’ and stops him.
Carrion reverts back to Malcom, but Shriek is badly injured. A newly woken Spider-Man, wrestles over whether to leave Shriek to face the consequences of her actions or not, but ultimately decides to take her to the hospital.
While at the hospital, Peter checks in on Aunt May, then returns home to try and make amends with Mary Jane. But unable to deal with Peter’s coldness, Mary Jane has left their home to spend time with her family.
Feeling alone, Peter begins to shut down again. He vows to retreat into his Spider-Man persona, where he can remain devoid of emotion.
Is Spider-Man: Shrieking worth reading?
Spider-Man comics are known for their mix of action and drama. Since the very beginning, Peter Parker has had to balance his personal life with his life as Spidey and this has resulted in various problems across the decades.
Shrieking is a perfect example of Peter being surrounded by problems, but this story goes one step further by exploring the severe depression he experiences too. At no point in the story does Peter acknowledge this depression, but it is there, and it is causing him to switch off from those who care for him the most.
The more Peter disconnects, the more he retreats into Spider-Man. Spidey becomes his escape mechanism, but the coldness he displays as Spidey only fuels the problem and this results in an interesting story which shows a different side to Peter.
Shrieking focuses in on the mental toll Peter’s foes have inflicted on him. The story begins and ends with Peter suffering from depression and makes it clear he isn’t going to move on from this over night – this is something he is living with for the foreseeable future.
Has Spider-Man: Shrieking been adapted into a movie?
To date, Spider-Man: Shrieking has not been adapted into a movie. Most of the Spider-Man movies have dealt with Peter having problems in his personal life, but none have seen Peter cope with depression, which makes this another interesting entry in the Spider-Man mythology.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post about Spider-Man: Shrieking on Don’t Tell Harry. For more Spider-Man posts, be sure to check out the recommended reads below.