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Abandoned Love: Black Cat’s Short Memory When It Comes to Venom and Carnage

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Every installment of Abandoned Love we will be examining comic book stories, plots and ideas that were abandoned by a later writer without explaining that the previous story was retconned away. Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of Abandoned Love. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Based on a suggestion from reader John C., we look at how Black Cat had a bizarrely short memory when it came to Venom and Carnage…

Black Cat first encountered Venom in Amazing Spider-Man #316 (by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane). It did not go well for her…

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You have to love the extra bit where she finds out Spider-Man’s married for the first time at that moment. Ouch.

So anyhow, a few years later, during Maximum Carnage (specifically Spider-Man #35, by Howard Mackie, Tom Lyle and Scott Hanna), Venom offers to team-up with Spider-Man to take down Carnage and his crew. Black Cat tries to convince Spider-Man that he has to do it…

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He initially wavers, but she ends up joining up with Venom herself…

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(Spider-Man eventually joined in)

Black Cat fights alongside Spider-Man and Venom against Carnage for the rest of the storyline.

And yet…in 2004’s Venom vs. Carnage…well, go to the next page and see what’s what…

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41 Comments

From what I remember of that mini-series…which is mercifully little…the list of things forgotten/discarded from Venom’s history did not end with Black Cat.

Venom vs. Carnage was, and is probably the worst thing Peter Milligan ever wrote. It’s also the first time I saw Clayton Crain’s digital work, which STILL looks slick, wet and disgusting, and none of those in a good way. It’s a bad book just in general.

I tend to come up with ‘no-prize’ explanations for continuity errors, but this series left me blank for excuses. I severely disliked the story because of all those errors (mainly this Black Cat issue). My general opinion of Peter Milligan is also very low based on this & his X-Men run.
I won’t expect a creator to know every piece of backstory for every character they’re writing, but Carnage really hadn’t had all that many prior appearances, this really tells me that Milligan just couldn’t be bothered. I find it surprising as well that the errors weren’t even picked up on in editorial.

Good lord, that Clayton Crain art is terrible.

I tend to come up with ‘no-prize’ explanations for continuity errors, but this series left me blank for excuses. I severely disliked the story because of all those errors (mainly this Black Cat issue). My general opinion of Peter Milligan is also very low based on this & his X-Men run.
I won’t expect a creator to know every piece of backstory for every character they’re writing, but Carnage really hadn’t had all that many prior appearances, this really tells me that Milligan just couldn’t be bothered. I find it surprising as well that the errors weren’t even picked up on in editorial.

The weirdest thing to me is that Black Cat not knowing who Venom and Carnage are really doesn’t play a huge role in the series. So yes, I agree that it is surprising that editorial didn’t tell Milligan to change that. It would barely change things at all.

I haven’t read this one, even if it’s by Milligan whose work I am a big fan of.

Yeah, as almost everyone is already saying, Venom vs. Carnage has OTHER continuity issues besides Black Cat’s memory…

I think the most significant one is the very core of the plot… Toxin CAN’T be Venom’s grandson!!!

Why?

Because Venom reabsorbed Carnage’s symbiotes years before – then, after such event, Cletus Kassady became even crazier in abstinence and painted his body in red!!

Later, Cletus Kassady went to the Negative Zone together with Spider-Man and there he conveniently found ANOTHER symbiote, then becoming Carnage again.

This conveniency of such new symbiote was never explained (even in the handbooks)… The symbiote essence mixed to Kassady’s blood was probably absorbed by Venom, as Kassady couldn’t activate the symbiote when he painted himself in red…

Unlessssss…. maybe his bone marrow retained some particles of the old symbiote and renewed the symbiote stock when it renewed the cells in his bloodstream… Okay, this could be a fair explanation… but it wasn’t used.

So, technically, Carnage’s symbiote isn’t an offspring of Venom anymore. It came from the Negative Zone.

Anyway, Marvel has then assumed the parental relationship between Venom and “alien” Carnage since Venom vs. Carnage series.

Hey, Brian… that’s a good Abandoned Love theme, heh?

It’s Venom vs. Carnage. I imagine the editor skimmed to see if the quota of PG-13 dismemberments was met, and when he felt satisfied that it was, rushed the comic out the door.

So yeah, weird decision here to ignore Black Cat’s history with both symbiotes.

Why exactly do you think it was a conscious decision rather than incompetence, ignorance, or sloppiness? I mean you may be right, but I was just wondering why you were so sure?

Escher Girls would have a week’s worth of posts on that wretched digital art.

That mini series was awful. It was clear that the writer never read a story with Venom or Carnage in it in his life.

Wasn’t this after Maximum Carnage where Carnage kills 800 people or so? You’d think that would leave an impression.

Looks like Black Cat abandoned and forsaked her shirt. If the story is anywhere near as bad as the art, this should never have been published.

Pretty sure that sexy skimpy outfits have always been one of Black Cat’s gimmicks, so her attire’s cleavage is pretty much in character. If you’re going to complain about the art, at least do a criticism that makes sense, such as how ridiculously over the top and narmy Venom and Carnage look.

found it strange that after black cat went and told spider man he had to help venom stop carnage even if its making a devils deal. that once she comes across the two she acts like she just ment them when venom also broke her nose. guess some one did not bother to maybe do some research when they were starting work on venom vs carnage or the black cat wold recognize venom at least.

“Pretty sure that sexy skimpy outfits have always been one of Black Cat’s gimmicks, so her attire’s cleavage is pretty much in character.”

She’s always worn low-cut outfits, but an outfit that is only about 2mm away from revealing how much of a bikini wax she has is nonetheless a bit extreme…………….

Pretty sure that Venom and Carnage have always looked over the top and narmy. , so its part of their characters. If you’re going to complain about the opinions of random people on the internet, at least do a criticism that makes sense, instead of being a hypocrite.

In fairness, forgetting that A has met B in the past seems like one of those continuity errors that turns up a lot in comics.

The Clayton Crain version of Black Cat’s outfit is pretty much the same as the outfit she was sporting in those Spider-Man #35 pages where she teams up with Venom.

Heck, she eventually even zips up her outfit in Crain’s pages, which is probably an idea that would drive many Black Cat artists insane.

UGH! That artwork is painful! I’ve never even heard of this Venom Vs. Carnage miniseries, but even if I had, the artwork would h ben an immediate turn-off for me.

In any case, I think that it’s been at least two decades since there have really been any good, professional editors at either Marvel or DC. Seems like since the late 1990s the role of editors has been to rubber-stamp the work of hot creators, and to pass along directives from management and marketing to the rest of the writers on what stories or crossovers to tell. The days of truly professional editors like the late, great Archie Goodwin are long gone.

Well, the spider titles did once try to argue Black Cat is mentally unstable. Maybe memory issues result from that as well. It could be used to explain the secret backstory we got in Spider-Man & Black Cat as well.

Since this comic introduced Toxin… has Toxin ever appeared in a main Spidey book? Maybe all the Crain Carnage stories are in their own continuity.

As for Crain… the only time I’ve liked his art has been in Rai. The stuff in Venom vs. Carnage at least seems better than the mess he provided in the Ghost Rider series.

That’s likely why it turns the readers and creators both on. Just saying.

Is it possible that her not knowing Venom stems from that not being the Eddie Brock Venom she’s familiar with? Carnage, I don’t know, maybe it’s just been awhile. No explanation there…

Is the book just supposed to be out-of-continuity? That’s the only reason I can think of for such a glaring oversight.

I’m really distracted in the Maximum Carnage pages but moreso the Venom Vs Carnage pages on how Black Cat manages to keep her outfit on her shoulders (much less other parts of her body).

I was so annoyed when this came out as there is no real wiggle room to try to explain the situation. Who writes a Venom v Carnage storyline, and not read Maximum Carnage? Such a great story!

Meh, seems an easy fix, she lied.

Telling the cop she had no idea who they were was the fastest way to end their encounter.

@ Fraser ~
“In fairness, forgetting that A has met B in the past seems like one of those continuity errors that turns up a lot in comics.”
What’s weird, and also turns up sometimes, is forgetting when A hasn’t met B.

What’s weird, and also turns up sometimes, is forgetting when A hasn’t met B.

I think that when writing a Wolverine guest appearance, it’s always a safe idea to assume that your characters have met him at some point or another, considering just how extensive Logan’s history has been retconned to develop his involvement with myriad corners of the Marvel universe.

I keep half-expecting that one of these days Wolverine is going to bump into the Silver Surfer, prompting the later to gasp out “Logan?!? Is that you? I haven’t seen you since that time we went bar-hopping on Zenn-La a few centuries ago!” :)

These days, in the shadow of the MCU, such oversights are very common indeed. New writers especially avoid references to older stories. Btw, I wish they brought the editorial boxes back. I used to search back issues based on their references and they helped me make sense of the story.

I love Peter Milligan, and think he’s the most underappreciated writer in comics, but all of his Marvel work outside of X-Statix is terrible. He simply has no feel for mainstream superhero stuff. I’m sure he’d be the first to tell you that he did this book for the paycheck.

Are there many more pointless characters than Black Cat? Little more than a Catwoman expy to make Petey (and most of the readers) feel funny in his underwear, and pretend to be a rounded character by trotting out an American Idol/Undercover Boss sob story whenever she/the writer remembers.

And talking about rubbish characterization, that explanation by Carnage in the last panel makes me headdesk. Maybe that’s something that Kasady would feel, but are the symbiotes so clinically psychotic towards their own kind? Venom doesn’t seem to be.

“What’s weird, and also turns up sometimes, is forgetting when A hasn’t met B.”
But that’s more easily explainable- people can meet off panel.

Clayton Crain’s art is MUCH better in recent years, especially in comparison to that ugliness above, and he’s my preferred Carnage artist. As for Black Cat… yeah, I can’t call it. Editorial dropped the ball, as did Milligan himself.

There is so much wrong with using Venon more than once, _maybe_ twice. Symbionte stories are never worth the while.

For that matter, also with that stripperific version of Black Cat’s costume, since it is so prominently… featured. Yeah, featured. Right. That is the word I was seeking.

Clayton Crain’s work on the Valiant series Rai is so much better! I didn’t even recognize this example as his work.

Wasn’t this post-Brand New Day? I thought Spider-writers got a continuity-free reset to any story they felt like telling.

Yeah, I’m with Billy. For all the gnashing of teeth over the Crain art, it’s the same costume as Lyle draws in the earlier appearance straight to the bikini line (so is it platinum blonde everywhere?). And no one even mentions McFarlane who has her face being smashed into a wall or whatever causing the whole BACK of her costume to tear off.

But now I wish someone had done the reverse of the Ben Herman idea where Wolverine bumps into someone, and he stares at them, and thinks for a minute silently, and then finally says “Nope, I’ve never met you before. That’s a new experience….”

Agreed with M-Wolverine on this one. Odd that we’re so quick to criticize Crain’s art, which is atrocious, but we’re going to let McFarlane off for his oddly sexualized violence? That creepy bum shot?

I suppose people are just too used to Todd McFarlane by now. Yeah, it’s as bad as Crain, but anything can gain a certain acceptability through over-exposure. There are already a hundred articles about how bad and hyper-sexist is the art of the major Image guys.

Yes, it’s strange that Black Cat would have no memory of who Venom or Carnage are.

But I would argue that it is significantly stranger that the cop (and, implicitly, the police force) has no idea who they are. Especially Carnage; this is a convicted mass-murderer who got a symbiote and used it to escape from prison. And then he, to an extent, took over New York City — but if Black Cat doesn’t remember that, presumably there is some sort of continuity shift going on here, so we can ignore that for a minute, at least it’s internally consistent. But Carnage’s origin is pretty dependent on (1) being in jail, (2) getting a baby symbiote from his cell mate Eddie Brock, and (3) escaping. So they should be aware of who he is; at least Black Cat, you could just say “She’s lying” or “She has suffered major head trauma over the years of comic appearances and has forgotten.”

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