How Carnage Became One of the Marvel Universe's Biggest Threats
How did Cletus Kasady go from serial killer to one of the deadliest threats in the Marvel Universe?
There was a time when Venom was Spider-Man’s deadliest enemy, but that title may currently belong to Venom’s spawn, Carnage. In this summer’s ABSOLUTE CARNAGE, Cletus Kasady has evolved far beyond his origins as a symbiote-empowered serial killer. Carnage’s new goal is to awaken Knull, the god and creator of the symbiotes. That makes him a threat to the entire Marvel Universe – because if Knull is awakened, all of creation may at stake.
To better understand how Carnage has become so much more powerful than the average symbiote, Marvel.com is taking a look at key events from Cletus’ past.
Born For Chaos (WEB OF VENOM: CARNAGE BORN #1)
This was a fairly recent revelation, but it explains a lot. Cletus’ mother, Louise Kasady, was an inmate at Ravencroft when she gave birth. Because no one helped Louise during her child’s birth, Cletus died after choking on his umbilical cord. His inexplicable revival may have been due to Knull’s intervention, but it also bestowed Cletus with his lifelong fascination with chaos and death. When Cletus killed his victims, he was simply “setting them free.”
Savage Genesis (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #361)
Was it fate or destiny that Eddie Brock was Cletus’ cellmate when the Venom symbiote freed him in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #345? The symbiote’s offspring remained behind and bonded with Cletus. When Carnage made his official debut in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #361, he had powers and strength even beyond those of Venom. Eddie theorized that the Carnage symbiote’s extra abilities were due to its gestation on Earth. Regardless of the reason, it took both Venom and Spider-Man to defeat Carnage.
Maximum Carnage (SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED #1)
One of the other reasons that Carnage is so deadly is that Cletus can be pretty charismatic when he wants to be. During MAXIMUM CARNAGE, Cletus’ madness sparked an attraction with his fellow Ravencroft inmate, Shriek. From there, they recruited the Spider-Man doppelganger, Demogoblin, and Carrion to serve as Carnage’s army. They kept killing in Carnage’s name until Spider-Man, Venom, Cloak and Dagger, and other heroes put an end to their rampage.
Rebirth (CARNAGE #1-5)
Carnage’s apparent death in NEW AVENGERS #2 seemed fairly definitive. Who could survive getting torn into two pieces while being held in space by the Sentry? Both Cletus and the Carnage symbiote pulled off that feat, but just barely. Industrialist Michael Hall made a very deadly mistake when he retrieved Carnage’s remains from orbit and attempted to weaponize the symbiote for his own purposes. Despite the best efforts of Spider-Man and Iron Man, both Cletus and the symbiote emerged alive and reunited to become Carnage once again.
Carnage, U.S.A. (CARNAGE, U.S.A. #1-5)
Following his return, Carnage’s powers were even greater than before. His symbiote was able to create offshoots of itself and takeover most of the people living in Doverton, Colorado. And when the Avengers came to stop him, Carnage took over their bodies too.
In that way, CARNAGE, U.S.A. seems like a direct forerunner of ABSOLUTE CARNAGE. It was the first time that Carnage was truly a threat on the Avengers’ level.
Minimum Carnage (MINIMUM CARNAGE: ALPHA #1)
Over time, Carnage’s potential caught the attention of the Microverse. Some of its residents made a deal with Cletus to give him a whole new universe of people to kill if he served them in the Microverse. Naturally, Cletus didn’t live up to his end of the deal and turned on his new partners. It’s what he does.
The scary part here is that Cletus reproduced the Carnage symbiote from within his own body. This was after the Thunderbolts had seemingly destroyed the symbiote themselves. The implication is that Carnage can never die – although he had at least one death after this.
Touched by Chthon (CARNAGE #1-16)
More recently, Carnage gained additional power through the Darkhold, an ancient book of black magic written by the elder god Chthon. After that, the traditional weaknesses of a symbiote, including sonics and fire, didn’t affect Carnage. Additionally, Carnage thought it was a great idea to summon Chthon to Earth in order to destroy it. Unfortunately for Cletus, he realized far too late that he was simply a pawn of Chthon, rather than his equal.
Red Goblin (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #797-#800)
Have you ever wondered if the Carnage symbiote would be more dangerous in someone else’s hands? In this storyline, Norman Osborn got a hold of the symbiote and used it to become Red Goblin. Because Norman had a better imagination than Cletus, he was able to use the symbiote in innovative ways, including the creation of living weapons to use against Spider-Man and his loved ones. The only thing that stood between Norman and his ultimate victory was his ego. He couldn’t live with the fact that Cletus would get the credit for killing Spider-Man if Norman killed him while he was still the Red Goblin.
Prophet of Doom (WEB OF VENOM: CARNAGE BORN #1)
Scorn was once Carnage’s enemy. But somewhere along the way, she went a bit crazy and began worshiping Knull alongside an equally unstable cult. Together with her followers, Scorn resurrected Carnage from his latest demise and briefly put his consciousness in touch with Knull’s mind.
This proved to be a very poor decision on Scorn’s part, as Cletus repaid the favor by murdering her. As a side effect of merging with the Grendel symbiote, Carnage’s powers have expanded once again. He can physically assume the shape of others, which is how he framed Eddie Brock for murder. Carnage also uses pieces of his symbiote to spy on his targets, while possessing everything from birds and other animals to people while preparing to strike.
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