As a young child, I remember my mother buying me comic books. These were series like Casper the Friendly Ghost, Richie Rich, and Mickey Mouse. They were fun, and I enjoyed them. I don’t know whatever happened to them as they seem to have been lost in time. Perhaps one day I’ll stumble upon them. However, the comic I consider to be my first, and is the first superhero one I bought, was Spider-Man #35. The was part four of the Maximum Carnage event that was printed in all the Spider-Man comics at the time (which was an absurd 5 titles a month).
I found this at a Marden’s (I should have bought it, when I saw it, at Marden’s! Sorry, years of local commercials tends to do that) over in Auburn, Maine. Originally printed in 1993, I know I didn’t get it until at least a couple years later, I’m thinking it was ’96. I had never seen comics there before, and rarely did after. But there it was, in a comic bag, and with that magical price of 25 cents. I saw the cover and thought it was the coolest looking thing ever.
I already had a basic knowledge of Spider-Man, primarily from the animated series and a bit from the comic strip that used to be printed in the newspaper (at one point I even cut out all those strips and glued them in my own book to make it a complete story). But this comic had so many other people in it. The cover alone showed Venom and Black Cat, who I knew, but then it also had some red monster and a goblin that wasn’t Hobgoblin or the Green Goblin.
The story, part 4 in the overall arc, was gripping. Spider-Man was working with Venom? Some guy named Cloak, who I was amazed by, was mourning the loss of Dagger, and the Black Cat were also helping? And the villains! Demogoblin, a doppleganger, Shriek and Carnage were a ruthless and murderous team. Carnage alone was a fright. This was a serial killer with all the same powers as Venom, only even more crazy (Shriek was actually a little disappointing). I had never seen such action in comic or in the animated series (in which Spider-Man didn’t even punch guys). The artwork was tight and vivid. It was a dark story and instantly drew me into the Marvel Universe. I begged my mom to go back to Marden’s as soon as possible and found a few more issues of the storyline.
It was not until many years later that I actually finished acquiring all 14 issues. I still read it from time to time and it will always have a soft spot in my heart. Yes, I see some corniness, especially when Captain America gets involved (I was not a fan of him in my younger years and am now only slightly more appreciative of him), and the ending was a bit tacky, but overall it showcases all that was good about the 90’s. Gritty, action-packed, and exciting. It got me hooked on comics and on Spider-Man in general. I collected many of his comics from about the same time and was never disappointed. Of course, I never read the Clone Saga, so maybe I just lucked out.