Written and illustrated by a creative team that includes Dan Jurgens, Tom DeFalco, Mark Bagley, Howard Mackie, John Romita Jr., Todd Dezago, Sal Buscema, Art Thibert and John Stanisci, Spider-Man: Web of Carnage is a four-part story featuring Carnage. Published by Marvel Comics in 1996, the story appeared in the pages of The Sensational Spider-Man #3, The Amazing Spider-Man #410, Spider-Man #67, and The Spectacular Spider-Man#233.
In Spider-Man: Web of Carnage, the Carnage symbiote has found a way to escape from Ravencroft Institute. Leaving behind its host, Cletus Kasady, the symbiote slips away each night to terrorise unsuspecting victims.
During one of its nightly haunts, the symbiote crosses paths with Spider-Man. It bonds with the webbed-wonder and together they become Spider-Carnage.
Web of Carnage takes place during the events of the Clone Saga – a sprawling story which dominated Spider-Man comics during the mid-to-late ‘90s. During this era, Peter Parker stepped down from his role as Spider-Man, with Ben Reilly donning the costume in his place.
What happens in Spider-Man: Web of Carnage?
Part One: Headlines
Ben Reilly is experiencing problems with his girlfriend, Jessica Carradine. She appears to be obsessed with Spider-Man and he isn’t quite sure why.
Jessica believes her father was killed by Spider-Man, but before she can reveal this to Ben, he receives a call from Peter Parker. Peter wants to meet up with Ben to run some tests on a skeleton that has recently been discovered.
The skeleton is believed to have belonged to Spider-Man, but both Ben & Peter know this can’t be true. In order to uncover the truth, they agree to take the skeleton to Hank Pym of the Avengers, to run some tests.
On his way to meet up with Peter, Ben comes across what appears to be a male victim of a mugging. When Ben approaches, the man becomes spooked – thinking that Spider-Man is the one who attacked him.
Based on the description he is given, Ben comes to the conclusion that Carnage was the mystery attacker. However, when Ben checks up on Carnage, he finds that Cletus Kasady (Carnage’s alter-ego) is still locked up in the Ravencroft Institute.
Putting the mugging to one side, Ben meets up with Peter and the pair make their way to Avengers HQ. With the help of Hank Pym, Ben analyses the skeleton, while Peter uses Avenger technology to scan a picture of Jessica and her father – something which Ben acquired earlier.
Both tests are completed at the same time. According to the data, the skeleton does belong to Spider-Man, and is therefore a clone, and Jessica’s father is the burglar who killed Uncle Ben.
Part Two: And Now… Spider-Carnage
Ben Reilly investigates the supposed reappearance of Carnage, which leads him back to Ravencroft. But once again, Cletus Kasady remains firmly in his cell, so can’t possibly be free to stalk the streets at night.
Convinced the Ravencroft security staff know more than they are letting on, Ben trails one of the guards to a nearby bar, where all the patrons celebrate super villains. Ben is shocked by what he sees, but his shock is abruptly interrupted by what appears to be the arrival of Carnage.
The pair briefly fight, before Carnage disappears. Ben is once again convinced the Ravencroft staff know something about Carnage’s escapades, so he trails the Institute’s head of security – John Jameson.
Although he suspects something to be amiss with Jameson, Ben isn’t quite ready for the big revelation – that the Carnage symbiote has bonded with Jameson. And in a surprise moment, the symbiote abandons Jameson and attaches itself to Ben, becoming Spider-Carnage in the process.
Part Three: Who Am I?
Ben wrestles for control, as the symbiote takes over his mind and body. He manages to suppress its murderous tendencies, but just barely, and he draws the attention of the police.
While Ben is battling the symbiote, Peter delves deeper into the mystery surrounding the skeleton. But his quest is cut short when he comes face-to-face with Spider-Carnage.
Part Four: Inner Demons
As Ben Reilly continues his internal battle with the symbiote, he heads to Ravencroft to speak to Cletus Kasady. Ben believes Kasady may be able to help him control the symbiote, however, once inside the facility, Ben finds it even more of a struggle to subdue the symbiote’s desire to kill.
In order to buy himself some time, Spider-Carnage volunteers to be placed in a cell in Ravencroft, so that the institute’s microwave technology can keep the symbiote in check. But the symbiote has other ideas, and once inside the cell, it leaves Ben’s body and travels through the water pipes back to Kasady.
Once reconnected with Kasady, the symbiote remains at Ravencroft.
Is Spider-Man: Web of Carnage worth reading?
While the idea of combining Spider-Man and Carnage is interesting, and the overall Spider-Carnage design is striking, as a story, Web of Carnage falls a little flat. The opportunity to send Spider-Man on an epic emotional journey with the symbiote is squandered and the whole thing feels a little hollow and rushed.
This is a story which could have easily been stretched out to six or eight issues and turned into a major event. At the very least, this four-part tale needed to be tighter and it deserved a better ending, as the symbiote’s body switching shenanigans end so abruptly.
Because this story takes place during the infamous (and complicated) Clone Saga, there are multiple storylines in play that are kept open for future stories. As such, Peter’s quest for the truth about the skeleton, as well as the story involving Jessica’s father, go unresolved.
Web of Carnage had potential and it is cool to see Spidey infected by the Carnage symbiote, but this story is a missed opportunity. It may work well as a diversion in the bloated Clone Saga, but it doesn’t quite work as a stand-alone tale.
Has Spider-Man: Web of Carnage been adapted into a movie?
To date, Spider-Man: Web of Carnage has not been adapted into a movie. However, during the 1990s, Spider-Carnage was the villain in the two part series finale of Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
The character appeared in the episodes: Spider-Wars Part 1: I Really, Really Hate Clones and Spider-Wars Part 2: Farewell, Spider-Man.
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