Chapter By Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
In a previous chapter Aunt May stopped by to see Mary Jane because she had a problem. I’m hoping this book isn’t going to be loaded with subplots. I don’t know if MJ’s lack of income is going to factor in but we already have Carnage coming and this homeless dinner Jameson’s planning, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this comes together. You can do more with Aunt Man than have something wrong with her if you really want her in the plot. Apparently there are only three stages of classic May Parker: doting aunt, needing money, and near death. Four if you count her occasional romantic interludes. (She gets around for an old lady whose so close to death both Thanos and Deadpool get jealous.) Okay, let’s see what she’s dealing with this time.
All of that was written before I even started to read the chapter. It lends a bit of authenticity to the intro if I don’t know what’s going to happen going in, like any of you reading the book for the first time while following along. However, after looking at it this would be clickbait to anyone on the homepage because what’s happening in the image is only the last two pages. Instead it’s about Carnage being brought to New York to be experimented on, which we all know is going to end poorly even without the foresight of being readers, and a history of the symbiotes. I feel the image doesn’t properly represent the chapter and this doesn’t feel right to me.
Instead the chapter opens with a discussion of the school that’s been turned into the special anti-symbiote lab. There’s talk about how it used to be an elementary school and you could hear the laughter of happy children at recess, then a high school with the sounds of teen couples in love and friends planning for the weekend of fun, but now was a big scary lab…in what sounds like a populated area! I don’t care how many weapons they’re readying in there, this becomes a dumber and dumber idea by the moment. Ordinary criminals break out of prison, and you’re taking one of the most dangerous super-powered criminals alive out of the prison created to hold them to an old high school with a few flamethrowers? It’s like they’re trying to get people killed!
To the writers’ credit however the scene is laid out pretty well. While I thought the history of the school was laid on a bit thick (especially given my own dislike for my high school years) they go over every detail the eggheads and security people came up with. Flamethrowers and sonic cannons exploit the symbiote weaknesses to fire and certain sonic vibrations. The portable prison has the same “fire walls” his prison at the Vault had, with redundancies in case of the generators goes down. It’s all very good but even the guy in charge knows this is a bad idea. You know every complaint ever about why Batman doesn’t kill the Joker? Or even why the law in Gotham hasn’t? I think Kasaday should have the same things said about him but Carnage isn’t as popular as the Joker. The two even teamed up once, you know, another attempt to deal with Carnage by using science instead of just turning on the flamethrowers.
From there the story shifts to Spider-Man swinging back home and remembering the events of Carnage’s origin. For those who hadn’t read the comics or knew the history they go as far back as Battleworld and the events of the first Secret Wars miniseries. They even go over how Venom was born, later defeated, and how he ended up in prison. They could have just said “but Spider-Man was able to stop Venom, separating the symbiote from Brock, and put him in prison”. Instead they go over how Venom was defeated by two guys named Styx and Stones, who I’m guessing won’t be a factor in this story otherwise. I already went over Carnage’s origin previously but it’s nice to include for non-comic fans who know Spider-Man from elsewhere but might not be familiar with Carnage. Even when he showed up in the 90s cartoon there were alterations like involving Doctor Strange villain Baron Mordo as part of a story arc for that season. This is the actual comic backstory as far as I’m aware.
Finally we get to the two pages that form the chapter image as we learn Aunt May is going to lose the house. Again. So we’re getting broke Aunt May for this book. Where will that go? We end on that cliffhanger, but I think we’re all more invested in how is Carnage going to break out and kill everybody because you know that’s what about to happen, maybe even next chapter. Join me next week and we’ll find out together.