Ultimate Spider-Man
#31 - Carnage

Original Airdate - March 31st, 2013
The Green Goblin returns with a new plan to turn Spider-Man into his perfect weapon, but Carnage is a dangerous surprise for both Norman and Spidey.

Ultimate Spider-Man is produced by Marvel Animation and carries a TV-Y7-FV parental guideline.

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By Stu

This episode sees the return of The Goblin from the first season finale and introduces the one of the main villains from the Spider-Man comic books which has fan opinion divided. Some view Carnage as a cheap 1990’s gimmick best left in the same era and some think he is one of the cooler rouges in Spidey’s pool of colourful costumed creeps. I’ve always taken him story by story, his original comic book origin was a great story forcing Spider-Man to team up with his arch nemesis Venom while actually developed Cletus Kassidy as a crackpot who liked to kill, he instead despised order and believed everyone should act of their own freewill, regardless of the laws surrounding man.

The Ultimate Spider-Man comic book did away with all that and instead had Carnage as a creature created from strands of Peter Parker’s own DNA. I didn’t care for the story and found it to be another one of writer Brian Michael Bendis’ ‘improvements’ in which he slates the original character but then fails to create a more interesting version. Bendis is no stranger to this, as he did the exact same thing with Venom, who again is actually a rather tedious villain in the Ultimate universe.

The Ultimate Spider-Man comic book has it’s own version of Venom, which feels overexposed at this point in the show’s run. I don’t really buy Harry Osborn as Venom and don’t really find the character interesting in either identity. It feels tacked on, as did many of the earlier Ultimate Spider-Man episodes and given how season one lacked any great Spider-Man villains (or even good villains… we seemed to be getting the same bad guys over and over again for the majority of the opening season) I wasn’t really thrilled with the idea of Venom returning again.

I did enjoy the opening fight between Spider-Man and The Goblin. The staging and animation have not faltered since the show began and the action scenes are never less than impressive, when random, unfunny cutaway segments are not interrupting the flow of things. I don’t care for The Goblin’s design but it will make a fine action figure one day, which often feels it what the show is all about.

I also enjoyed The Goblin picking Peter to be his next Venom and really dig the Carnage design. The highlight of the episode was Carnage’s appearance fighting the Ultimate Friends and I found the episode took a tumble downhill when Peter lost the symbiote. It seems odd that the titular character appearance was as brief as it was and I think the episode suffered because of it.

The episode again has an irritating tinge to its dialogue which isn’t at all helped by Drake Bell… I am sorry to slate the guy but he is forcing his humour far too hard in this show. Whether or not he is intentionally hamming up because of the voice director’s direction of the show is up for debate because he wasn’t this grating in his appearance in The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes but either way… it’s hard to get best the irritating lead voice actor of the show. Greg Cipes' Iron Fist doesn’t help matters either. I do dig Nova though, I find him to be the funniest character in the show but judging from many of the online reviews of the show, I am alone in this opinion. I must admit, I did have a chuckle at Spidey’s own disappointment for failing to use his ‘wing it’ line when facing off against The Goblin.

Overall, not a bad effort for the show. I was hoping this would lead to more of Carnage but the episode instead provided a disappointing u-turn and became yet another Venom story… I suppose they have Venom toys of the shelves to sell, but still Carnage cannot be considered a bad episode, but not a great one. As with the show itself, too much potential was flushed down the toilet for it to be remembered as one of the greats.

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