Carnage is one of the more modern characters introduced in Marvel’s Spider-Man comics that rose to prominence and has remained as one of the wall crawlers greatest adversaries. His origin is kind of weird, but the villain that Carnage becomes in mostly granted thanks to the person the symbiote bonded with, notorious serial killer Cletus Kasady.
Carnage was first introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man no. 359 from February 1992 as a cameo. His first full appearance was in the same title 2 issues later in April 1992. He was created by comic writer David Michelinie and artist Mark Bagley.
The origin of Carnage is tied directly to that of Spider-Man’s other symbiote nemesis, Venom. Before we get to that, we need to find out about his host Cletus Kasady.
I’m not going to sugar coat it… Kasady is deeply disturbed and mentally unstable not to mention a sociopath and a homicidal sadist. Not much is known of Kasady’s early years, only bits and pieces.
He was born in the psychiatric prison at Ravencroft. When he was born his heart momentarily stopped before it was restarted by Knull ( Lord of the Symbiotes). Knull explained to infant Kasady that he was going to be the one to free him from Klyntar (the symbiote home world) so he could wreck destruction on the universe and restore it back to the darkness it once was before the Celestials arrived.
When he was young his homicidal tendencies began to manifest quickly. He murdered his grandmother by tripping her at the top of a set of stairs. When she hit the bottom her neck snapped and Kasady describes it at one of the greatest sounds he would ever hear. When he was asked if he regretted it, he responded with the only thing he regretted about it was having to wait 5 hours for his mom to get home so he could eat something as he was too small to reach anything.
He tried to murder his mother by throwing a plugged in hair dryer into the tub while she was having a bath, to no success. He tortured and murdered his mother’s dog in the bath tub with a power drill which resulted in his mother finally realizing the person her son was and trying to kill him. Kasady’s father came to his rescue beating his wife to near death. During the trial, Kasady refused to testify that his father was acting in his defense and his father was sentenced to life behind bars and Kasady was placed in the system.
As a ward of the State, Kasady was sent to St. Estes Home For Boys where he became very anti social. His introverted behaviour made him the target of abuse form the other orphan boys and some of the staff as well. One night, Kasady murdered the disciplinarian of the home and burned the entire orphanage down killing everyone as they slept. He became infatuated with a young girl and when he bucked up the courage to ask her out on a date, she laughed in his face. Filled with rage, he pushed her in front of a speeding bus, killing her. Kasady came to view laws as “nothing but words” and believed that the random act of bloodshed was the “ultimate freedom”. Essentially, he believed that every time he murdered someone he was “freeing” his victims.
As Kasady grew up he became a serial killer and was captured by the authorities. He was tried, found guilty and imprisoned at Ryker’s Island where he shared a cell with Eddie Brock (Venom). Officially at this point, Kasady was convicted of 11 murders though he bragged about having killed dozens more. Brock was growing tired of Kasady as a cell mate and one night, his symbiote returned to him. As he once again became Venom, his symbiote left an offspring in the cell with Kasady.
The symbiotes of Kylntar reproduce asexually and have no personal attachment to their offspring, viewing them as insignificant and part of the process to keep their species alive. Due to this fact, the Venom symbiote never told Brock about the offspring that it left in the cell during their escape so for quite some time, Brock believed he was the only symbiote powered person on the planet.
The symbiote bonded with Kasady on a much stronger level than Venom had bonded with Brock, making Carnage a stronger more violent and a better villain than Venom. Carnage then broke out of prison and went on a murder spree which attracted the attention of Spider-Man. At every single one of his murders, Carnage would write on the wall above his victim “Carnage” in his own blood, so that nobody would confuse this with Venom or some other villain. Spider-Man was forced to make a truce with Venom so that the two of them could take down Carnage without further death and stop Kasady once and for all.
After Venom and Spider-Man worked together to use Sonic weapons to kill the Carnage symbiote, Kasady was once again imprisoned for his crimes. However, due to the bond shared by Kasady and the symbiote, the symbiote was able to survive by entering Kasady’s bloodstream and hiding there, which is also how it was given its red colour.
MAJOR STORY ARCS
Following the destruction of the original Carnage symbiote, Kasady was once again imprisoned at Ravencroft Asylum. Prior to it being destroyed, the original symbiote had mutated Kasady’s blood giving him the ability to generate another copy of the symbiote. Unbeknownst to Spider-Man and Venom, they had just locked a fully powered Carnage in an insane asylum with several other villains. Carnage breaks out of the asylum and takes the villain Shriek with him. As the duo cut a bloody path through the city of New York, they recruit several other villains to their crew. Carnage, seeing himself as the “father” of his little crime family, takes on the leadership role with Shriek as his #2. The rest of the crew actively despise Carnage and only remain out of mutual devotion to Shriek who for some reason remains partnered with Carnage. Shriek is a very powerful telepath and compels the citizens of the city to engage in violent and sadistic behaviour which allows the crew to continue their bloody work without drawing attention to themselves. Spider-Man, Venom and several other heroes unite to take the crew down for their crimes. Carnage eventually turns on his crew and fights them all at once as the heroes grab a hold of a piece of Stark tech to help calm the villains and the city. Carnage, knowing he has lost, fakes his death. Venom doesn’t by it and goes on the hunt. The two symbiotes eventually clash with Venom gaining the upper hand and beating Carnage before throwing him into an electrical generator. Venom then fled the scene leaving Carnage to be picked up by the authorities.
Following a botched death and resurrection, Carnage returns with a vengeance and sets his sights on Doverton, Colorado. Now being able to multiply his form and take over several other hosts, he assimilates the entire town. When the Avengers send a team in to stop him, the entire team with the exception of Spider-Man are taken over by copies and become part of Carnage’s army. Another team of anti-symbiote forces are sent to free the town and the rest of the heroes that are under Carnage’s thrall. But when the forces arrive, they are vastly outnumbered and are forced to retreat for fear of being over taken themselves. Captain America, one of the controlled heroes, breaks free of Carnage’s control long enough to send a distress signal to Venom (Agent Venom/Flash Thompson). Agent Venom sets out for Colorado with a whole arsenal of symbiote killing weapons and joins the fray as Spider-Man and the uninfected people of the town join the fight as well. Venom nearly kills Carnage with a Sonic rifle round before Spider-Man stops him. Scorn takes Venom and Carnage over to a machine which she uses to unbond the symbiotes from their hosts. She manages to capture the Carnage symbiote with Venom once again merging with Flash Thompson. Cletus Kasady is apprehended and once again incarcerated for his crimes.
Not long after Kasady escapes again and flees to Texas where he runs into Scarlet Spider (Kaine Parker). Agent Venom and Scarlet Spider follow Kasady to the microverse where he had fled with a hostage named Dr. Ketola. Kaine and Venom manage to separate Carnage from Kasady and before the symbiote can bond with Kasady again, Kaine lobotomizes Cletus Kasady. The symbiote bonds with him but due to the lobotomy, Kasady is now no longer in control. The symbiote keeps him alive like a life support machine but Kasady’s mind is irreparably damaged.
*This is the newest arc featuring Carnage. Expect Full Spoilers!*
Following Axis and Venomized, Kasady was found by a cult called the Church of the New Darkness, who worshiped Carnage. Realizing that Kasady was near death and that the symbiote was not healing him they resolved to bond Carnage and Kasady with the Grendel Symbiote. Grendel is a massive dragon like being composed of several different symbiotes. It was created by Knull long ago and still remains loyal to him. Knull is the Lord of all the symbiotes and one of the oldest beings in Marvel comics, he pre-dates the Celestials, and doesn’t like anything. Legit he wants to return the universe back to the darkness of the abyss it was before the Celestials arrived. Moving on…
So, Kasady/Carnage was bonded with the Grendel and became Dark Carnage. Due to his influence from Grendel, that had once been bonded with Knull, Carnage resolved to hunt down all the previous hosts of all the symbiotes and consume their codexes, living or dead. The Codex is the trace remains of the symbiote in the hosts body which needs to be consumed to power a spire of the living abyss which was created to amplify Carnage’s new Hive Mind. (Just go with it, I don’t want to explain the last 6 years of carnage comics)…
So he returns to Doverton Colorado to consume the codexes of everyone he infected there during the Carnage U.S.A event, he consumes the codexes by ripping their spines out and consuming the symbiote’s remains contained within… He kills Scorn, and impersonates Eddie Brock to get thrown in Ryker’s to hunt down Lee Price (former Venom host). He kills Price and takes his codex, while framing Brock for the whole thing and digs up Thunderbolt Ross’ body to steal his codex as well, this attracts the attention of Hulk. Carnage infiltrates Ryker’s secure Wing and uses symbiote maggots to infect all the inmates making them mindless Carnage Dopplegangers. Carnage eventually amasses himself an army, taking over several heroes and villains to join his mindless wave. Eventually reunites with Venom after it abandoned him and merged with Hulk. Eddie punches his way into a container that housed not only Venom, but Lasher, Riot, Agony, Scream, Carnage, Agony, Phage, Sleeper, Scream, Mania, and several unnamed symbiotes becoming a more focused and powerful Venom. Eddie uses his newfound powers to take the fight to Carnage in a 1v1 fight calling himself the Avenging Fury of New York. The two fight through the skies and streets of the City before Carnage grabs Eddie’s son and tell Eddie to make a choice. Let Carnage kill his son and stop Knull from coming, or kill Carnage and assimilate his symbiote which will bring enough codexes together to summon Knull. Eddie says “F*#% the world” and carves Carnage off Kasady leaving nothing but Kasaday’s desiccated remains and lets Venom assimilate Carnage bringing together enough Codexes to summon Knull.
POWERS AND ABILITIES
Being an offspring from Venom, who in turn was previously bonded with Spider-Man, Carnage has all the powers of Venom; that being said, he is also vastly different from Venom and the rest of the Klyntar. Due to Carnage having evolved and been created in an alien environment (Earth), Carnage is actually far more powerful than most of the other symbiotes.
Carnage is stronger than both Venom and Spider-Man. He can shapeshift like all other symbiotes, he can form his hands and arms into various bladed and bludgeoning weapons. He can project a thick weblike substance that allows him to swing like Spider-Man, he is able to cling to any surface and run on extremely slippery surfaces. He has a version of Spider-Man’s spider sense that allows him to avoid attacks from all directions. His works by the symbiote providing him with information from all directions simultaneously enabling him to effectively “see” in complete a complete 360 degree sphere.
He can regenerate damaged body tissue and while he is bonded with the symbiote, Kasady is completely immune to every poison and toxin on earth. He is able to form his symbiote into throwable objects such as darts, daggers, hammers etc and once thrown, they turn to dust within 10 seconds. He can manipulate his form at will to provide himself with wings and extra appendages if necessary and is known for turning his fingers into knives and other stabbing weapons. He can adapt immediately to new environments which allowed him to remain alive after Sentry flew him into space and ripped him in half.
Lastly, Carnage is immune to Venom’s ability to track him. Typically when a “parent symbiote” reproduces, it is able to still track its offspring. For a reason unknown to readers and to Venom himself, he is unable to track Carnage through this method.
He is weak to sound and fire/heat like all other symbiotes. Due to the evolution of the symbiote on earth he is less vulnerable to sound but more weak to fire.
While other people have worn the symbiote, none will ever compare to Cletus Kasady and his thirst for blood and chaos. Carnage has no comparable equal when it comes to his need for murder and bloodshed. Some would say the Joker is his equal but joker is actually disgusted with him. In one of the many DC/Marvel crossovers, Carnage and Joker came to blows with the Clown Prince being disgusted at Carnage and his visceral nature.
Cletus Kasady was introduced in the 2018 movie Venom in a after credits scene teasing his inclusion for the sequel. It has been confirmed that he will be appearing in a major role with Woody Harrelson reprising his role.
I remember years ago hearing the rumour that Jim Carrey was going to appear as Carnage in a Spider-Man movie and I wanted to see that so bad! It never came to fruition but I still think that he would’ve done a great job in the role.
See you next time!