Every so often, I am somewhat surprised I haven’t covered someone before. Case in point: Shriek. Yes, the psychopath who didn’t think people were people, i.e. Carnage, somehow found love with another psychopath like some kind of comic book version of the lead characters from the movie Natural Born Killers.
Probably appropriate that Woody Harrelson played Carnage with that in mind.
Shriek first appeared in Spider-Man Unlimited #1 in May of 1993. That issue was written by Tom DeFalco with artwork by Ron Lim, but that was also the first part of the really long Spider-Man crossover mess called Maximum Carnage. As such, while DeFalco and Lim may have gotten her onto the page first, that whole storyline afterwards is what shaped her and made her the character that she is, so it may be more of a committee effort.
But getting back to Shriek: born Frances Louise Barrison, she came from an abusive home where her mother would torment her over her weight. She turned to drugs and then to petty crime, as any good supervillain does, before a pair of accidents. First, a cop shot her in the head. Then she got sucked into the Darkforce Dimension by the superhero Cloak (of “Cloak and Dagger”). That made her already tenuous grip on sanity even worse while waking her latent mutant powers. First, she had sonic abilities, like a sonic scream that I guess could be stopped by a straightjacket judging by that pair of panels up there. Second, and more noteworthy, she had the ability to literally bring out the worst in people in her vicinity, meaning lots of ordinary folks would get really violent or scared or whatever just because she wanted them to.
That second part didn’t come into play right away. Her personal psychosis meant she wanted a family, and when she and Carnage met and the two discovered a mutual taste for mass homicide, she had the “father” for her new family, eventually including lesser Spidey-foes Demogoblin, Carrion, and Doppelganger as her “sons”. The group’s rampage, made worse because Shriek’s lesser-known powers caused a lot of rioting throughout the city during a time when most of the major superheroes just so happened to be out of town, was eventually stopped by Spider-Man and what heroes and anti-heroes he could round up to help, including Venom during a period when Venom was much more of a villain interested in eating Spider-Man’s brain than he was at being the more heroic figure he’s been under creators like writer Donny Cates.
And it’s probably worth noting that even though Cates during his well-received Venom run did make extensive use of Carnage, Shriek was nowhere to be found. If anything, her most noteworthy appearances, besides one post-Maximum Carnage that showed her teaming up with “son” Carrion to cause more trouble, all tend to be with Carnage or as a background figure.
That said, she is recognizable enough to merit an appearance in the Venom movie sequel Let There Be Carnage opposite the aforementioned Woody Harrelson’s Carnage. There, she was played by actress Naomie Harris.
But man, for such an anti-social psycho, she sure has joined a lot of bad guy teams. Probably the only way she can get out and be anywhere anymore. Then again, she was all about family…