Carnage (Cletus Kasady) is a fictional comic book supervillain appearing in books published by Marvel Comics, usually as an adversary of Spider-Man. The character first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #344 (March 1991), and was created by writer David Michelinie and artist Mark Bagley, based on elements of the precursor character Venom. In 2009, Carnage was ranked as IGN's 90th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time.
Writer David Michelinie created Carnage to be a darker version of Venom, intending to have Venom's human alter ego, Eddie Brock, be killed off in The Amazing Spider-Man #400 and have the symbiote continue to bond with a series of hosts. However, as Brock and Venom's popularity increased, Marvel would not allow him to be killed. Michelinie decided to create a new character: a total psychopath who, unlike Venom, had no sense of honor. The character was originally meant to be named "Chaos" and then "Ravage" before being settled on "Carnage." Carnage's human component, Cletus Kasady, was designed by artist Erik Larsen, who modeled the character after the DC Comics supervillain the Joker. Mark Bagley designed the Carnage symbiote.
Cletus Kasady was introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man #344 and first appears as Carnage in issue #361. He is the main villain in the 1993 "Maximum Carnage" crossover, a 14-part storyline crossover that spanned through all the Spider-Man titles. In 1996, two one-shot comics centered entirely around Carnage were released, entitled Carnage: Mind Bomb and Carnage: It's A Wonderful Life, both of which expand on his character.
After an appearance early in New Avengers the character was presumed killed and was absent from comics for nearly six years. A 2010-2011 limited series titled Carnage featured the return of the symbiote, where it temporarily found a new female host before reuniting with Kasady. The comic was released as a tie-in to the "Big Time" storyline in The Amazing Spider-Man.
Fictional character biography
Cletus Kasady had a troubled childhood: he killed his grandmother by pushing her down a flight of stairs and tortured his mother's dog. His mother then tried to kill Cletus, and was apparently beaten to the brink of death by Kasady's father, who received no defense from Kasady during his trial. As an orphan, Kasady was sent to the St. Estes Home for Boys, where his antisocial behavior made him the target of abuse from both the other orphans and the staff. Kasady gained revenge by murdering the disciplinarian administrator, pushing a girl who refused to date him in front of a moving bus, and burning down the orphanage. It was during his brutal years at St. Estes that Kasady acquired his philosophy that life was essentially meaningless and futile, that "laws are only words", and came to see the spreading of chaos through random, unpatterned bloodshed as "the ultimate freedom."
Finding the symbiote
Kasady becomes a serial killer. He is captured and sent to Ryker's Island prison for 11 murders—though he brags of a dozen more—where he shares a cell with Eddie Brock, who had lost the alien symbiote that transformed him into the supervillain Venom. Brock's symbiote soon returns and bonds with him again, and unwittingly leaves behind the symbiote's offspring. The symbiotes reproduce asexually and the children are then of no consequence to the parent; hence, Brock's symbiote felt no need to inform Brock of the existence of its offspring. The new symbiote enters Kasady's bloodstream through a cut and bonds with his blood, transforming him into Carnage. He escapes prison, and begins a series of murders, and at the scene of each crime, writes "Carnage" on the walls with his own blood. He is found by Spider-Man, though the hero proves to be no match for Carnage's powers. In desperation, Spider-Man makes a truce with Venom to fight Carnage. Carnage is defeated with sonic weaponry, but the symbiote lives on because it is merged with Kasady's bloodstream.
Kasady is taken to The Vault, a prison for super-villains—then Ravencroft Institute, a facility for the super-human criminally insane. A doctor at the facility, hoping to find a "cure" for his madness, draws blood from him—unwittingly enabling Kasady to morph into Carnage—who goes on to recruit an army of psychopathic supervillains including Shriek, Demogoblin, Carrion, and Doppelganger to take over New York City. Using Shriek's "psychic channel" powers, he also drives ordinary New Yorkers to attack one another. Carnage and his "family" are ultimately driven back by Spider-Man, Venom, and a number of other superheroes and super-antiheroes, with Carnage and Shriek being remanded to Ravencroft.
Web of Carnage
During a subsequent jailbreak, he made it his mission to kill his only childhood friend, Billy Bentime—hoping to refute the notion that friendship should be paid in kind. Carnage nearly defeated Spider-Man until Bentime tricked Carnage into reverting to human form, enabling Spider-Man to knock out Kasady with a simple punch.
The Carnage symbiote was supposedly destroyed in a subsequent conflict, and Kasady was sent back to Ryker's Island, where he unexpectedly transformed during transfer and rampaged through the prison. Shriek, who was still in league with Carnage, aided Carnage in taking over the island and recruiting villains like the Abomination, Mysterio, Screaming Mimi, and the Lizard. In the end, Carnage was thwarted once again by Spider-Man.
Though bonded to Cletus Kasady's bloodstream, the symbiote found a way to ditch its host by travelling through the institute's water pipes, overwhelming Ravencroft's chief, John Jameson, and using him to commit further murders. It eventually transferred itself to Spider-Man—Ben Reilly (Peter Parker's clone) at the time—when Ben bonded with it in order to prevent it hurting any innocent people, creating Spider-Carnage. Ben's willpower held out against the symbiote's murderous desires long enough for him to return it to Ravencroft. Reilly subsequently attempted to destroy the symbiote by subjecting himself to a potentially lethal blast of microwaves, but it escaped back to Kasady after the microwaves forced it to separate from him.
During a subsequent rampage, the Carnage symbiote briefly attempted to take control of the Silver Surfer, who was visiting Earth at the time to welcome the Fantastic Four after their return to life following the battle with Onslaught. The Surfer and Spider-Man were able to return the symbiote to Kasady, and the Surfer then sealed Kasady in an unbreakable prison in an attempt to force him to reflect on his sins for eternity.
Death and Resurrection
Having tracked Kasady to a prison specially designed to hold him—how he escaped the Surfer's prison has yet to be established—Venom eventually reabsorbs the Carnage symbiote into his own body "for good." Without the symbiote, Kasady attempts to re-assume the Carnage persona by costuming himself in red paint and continuing his killing sprees, claiming that he still possesses at least some of Carnage's strength (Whether this is true is unclear as the strength may have simply been insufficient compared to Spider-Man's natural power) and convinced that he only needs to kill Spider-Man and Venom to regain his symbiote, but Spider-Man nevertheless easily defeats him in a fight. Kasady, however, eventually finds another symbiote who had been kept sealed in the Negative Zone, and bonded with it to form the second Carnage.
In Venom vs. Carnage #1-4, the Carnage symbiote reproduces, with Kasady implanting of spawn of it into Patrick "Paddy" Mulligan, an Irish-American police officer who was recently married and expecting a child. Mulligan became Toxin—who single-handedly overpowered both Venom and Carnage. Nevertheless, Mulligan remained determined to use his new-found powers for good—learning as much as he can from Spider-Man—while leaving behind his wife and newborn son in order to protect them from danger.
In New Avengers #2, Carnage is one of several supervillains trying to escape from The Raft. Sentry flies Carnage outside the Earth's atmosphere and rips him in two. According to Iron Man's computer, Kasady may not have been inside the symbiote when the Sentry ripped it apart.
It is later discovered that, although Kasady was presumably killed, the symbiote survived by becoming dormant and returned to Earth. The Doppelganger and Shriek return, hoping to repair the symbiote. Using the properties of the symbiote, Michael Hall, a competitor of Tony Stark, creates prosthetic limbs and exo-suits which respond in the same ways as a symbiote. One such person, Dr. Tanis Nieves, is outfitted with one of these prosthetic arms after she is caught in an attack by the Doppelganger. When near the symbiote, her arm goes wild and forces her to kill several scientists before the symbiote forcefully bonds to her, becoming the new Carnage. After the symbiote uses Tanis to break into a Hall Corporation facility, it is revealed that Cletus Kasady is alive, his body having been preserved by the symbiote and repaired by Hall's prosthetics. Kasady reclaims the symbiote and becomes Carnage once more, attempting to avenge his captivity while Spider-Man and Iron Man struggle to stop him. It is then revealed that Carnage is once again pregnant, and the suit's spawn briefly bonds to Shriek before being torn from her. It then bonds to Tanis, creating a new hero, Scorn, who defeats Shriek. Carnage, however, escapes with the Doppleganger and swears to make a bloody comeback.
In the aftermath of his return, Carnage sets off west to Doverton, Colorado. He bonds most of the town to copies of his symbiote. Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hawkeye and the Thing attempt to defeat him but all except Spider-Man are bonded to copies.
Powers and abilities
As Eddie Brock explained, the Carnage symbiote was born with abilities even more singular than those of its progenitor—due to the fact that it gestated in an environment alien to it—Earth. The alien symbiote endows Cletus Kasady with enhanced physical strength greater than that of Spider-Man and Venom combined and shapeshifting abilities, allows him to project a weapon-like substance from any part of his body including the formation of weapons, and enables him to plant thoughts into a person's head using a symbiote tendril. Much like Spider-Man, Kasady has the ability to cling to virtually any surface, and has a version of Spider-Man's spider-sense, as the symbiote can relay information to him from any angle and grants Kasady the ability to "see" in any direction, warning him of incoming threats. He can rapidly crawl, walk, or run across even slick surfaces. The Carnage symbiote has similar abilities of that of Spider-Man's as a direct result of the Venom symbiote's first host, Peter Parker, who transferred some of Spider-Man's power into the symbiote.
He is able to rapidly regenerate damaged body tissues much faster and more extensively than an ordinary human. It isn't known, however, if he can fully regenerate severed limbs or missing internal organs. Kasady is also immune to the effects of all Earthly diseases and infections as long as he remains bonded with the symbiote. Like Venom, the symbiote is vulnerable to sound (to a much smaller degree than Venom) and heat (to a much larger degree than Venom), and is undetectable to Spider-Man's spider-sense. Unlike Venom, Carnage can launch parts of his symbiote at enemies in the form of solid weapons such as darts, spears, knives, axes, etc., although they disintegrate into dust within ten seconds of leaving Carnage's body.
Kasady has full control over the size, shape, color (usually red and black), texture, and hardness of his symbiote (and any part thereof). Like Venom, he can make his symbiote look like normal clothing (which he has done on rare occasion), or act as "camoflauge", blending him into the surrounding environment (which he has never done). With the symbiote bonded to his bloodstream, he can "regenerate" his costume from scratch simply by bleeding. His symbiote has the peculiar ability to block its parent's (Venom's) ability to sense and track it.
In some interpretations, the Carnage symbiote is vampiric, feeding on and thus endangering his victims by mere touch. The symbiote was augmented by prosthetics and is now able to grow wings at will, giving it the ability of flight. The symbiote has also shown the ability to call back parts of itself back to the main symbiote, adding it to the parts that already make up the symbiote. It can also send commands that cannot be resisted to parts of itself that are in technology, used to break the bones of the Iron Rangers when they challenged Carnage while wearing symbiote-enhanced technological exo-suits. Using these last two abilities, Carnage absorbed the five Iron Rangers, and consequently grew to an enormous size and assumed the color blue.
Finally, Carnage's powers have always been abnormally enhanced from the maniacal will and insane worldview that Cletus Kasady has had from the age of 8 years old onward. Kasady sees "chaos" and random, undirected violence as reality, and considers "order" and virtue to be illusions. He takes an almost artistic pride in his mayhem, likes to leave a trail for others to follow (usually leaving the phrase "Carnage Rules" written in his own blood), and is recklessly willing to take on the most dangerous and powerful of opponents and victims. (On rare occasions, however, he has deliberately spared individuals in order to serve as witnesses for others—for instance, Joe Robertson's wife Martha during Savage Rebirth.) Kasady is essentially taking revenge on the whole world for the torment—both real and imagined—of his childhood.
Aside from Cletus Kasady, the Carnage symbiote bonds with Ben Reilly, creating Spider-Carnage, and later with the Silver Surfer to become Cosmic Carnage. Later the suit forcefully bonds itself to Dr. Tanis Nieves after the apparent death of Cletus, in the process becoming the third Carnage. In every case, however, the symbiote eventually returns to Cletus Kasady.
The Earth-15 psychotic Peter Parker and Carnage combine to become the "Spider", and becomes a member of Weapon X in Exiles.
In the MC2 future timeline, Carnage bonds with Spider-Girl's friend, Moose Mansfied. He also infects Spider-Girl's little brother, Ben, turning him into a miniature version of himself. Spider-Girl uses the sonic blasters of the villain Reverb to destroy all traces of the symbiote.
In a later timeline, samples of the symbiote are used to create "Biopreds", living weapons that the government use to try to stop Mayhem, Spider-Girl's part-symbiote clone, who, after killing the real Spider-Girl, became a murderous vigilante, eventually killing the hero American Dream. The Biopreds run wild, however, decimating the world and its defenders. Mayhem, seeing the error of her ways, goes back in time and sacrifices herself to stop her past self from killing Spider-Girl, ensuring the events that led to the Biopreds' creation never occurred.
In the Ultimate Marvel series, Carnage is a self-regenerating vampiric organism based on the symbiotic suit research of Richard Parker, created by Curt Conners and consists of his own DNA and that of Peter Parker, which at the time contained samples of the Venom symbiote. When Carnage was first introduced, he was a monster of instinct, with no intelligence or self awareness, with his only aim to feed on the DNA of others to stabilize himself. After killing Gwen Stacy, this incarnation of Carnage has gone on to mimic her "essence" and now believes itself to be Gwen Stacy. Ultimate Carnage's appearance is based on Venom, Peter Parker, Curt Conners, and Gwen Stacy. In its monster form, Carnage resembles his original incarnation, such as its large eyes and fangs, as well as the Lizard's claws. In addition, the center of its body glows yellow, although after assuming the form of Gwen Stacy, Carnage loses this glow in its monster form. In its 'human form', Carnage resembles Peter's father Richard Parker in its first appearance, and Gwen in its second. The Carnage symbiote was absorbed by Eddie Brock, leaving Gwen and returning her to a healthy duplicate of the original. In one Ultimate Spider-Man comic book, Cletus Kasady is seen on a list of known cat burglars.
Carnage teams up with and later turns against the Joker during Spider-Man And Batman #1, the two men meeting when behavioral psychiatrist Cassandra Briar attempts to use the two men—regarded as humanity's most twisted minds—as tests for a chip she has developed that will allegedly 'lobotomise' their homicidal instincts. However, the Carnage symbiote neutralizes Kasady's chip after it is implanted, with Kasady simply pretending that the chip had worked so that he could meet the Joker. After Carnage removes Joker's chip, the two psychotics briefly enter into an alliance before their differing methods of murder cause a clash; Carnage favors numbers and actually seeing the death of his victims close-up in his murder sprees while the Joker prefers the artistry of his usual traps and tricks, Carnage dismissing the Joker's methods as slow while Joker sees Carnage as an amateur as anyone can just go out and kill people. Carnage responds by ambushing and threatening to kill Batman in order to be "theatrical". Carnage is defeated by Batman in the subsequent fight when he loses control of his symbiote while panicking after the Joker threatens to set off a bomb to destroy Gotham— himself and Carnage included— rather than see Carnage kill Batman. While defeating the shaken Kasady after his panic causes him to lose control of the symbiote, Batman reflects that many serial killers kill so many to try to escape death themselves by "appeasing" the Grim Reaper with their own sacrifices, and that Carnage—far from being a monster or even a "common street punk"— is little more than an overgrown "little boy", albeit with lethal powers.
In other media
Carnage appears in Spider-Man: The Animated Series voiced by Scott Cleverdon. Due to being a Saturday morning cartoon, Carnage is depicted as a madman rather than a serial killer, and is never shown actually killing anyone. Cletus Kasady first appeared in the third season episode "Venom Returns" where he is captured by the police in his home after planning to explode a bomb over New York. In prison he shared a cell with Eddie Brock (who had recently lost the symbiote) who finds Cletus very frustrating. In the episode "Venom Returns" the symbiote finds Eddie in prison and rebonds with him and escapes; Cletus then becomes jealous of Eddie's powers as he sees Venom flee the prison, saying he wants the power for himself. Baron Mordo, servant of the demon Dormammu, appears in front of Cletus with the Carnage symbiote and explains that it has the same power as Venom. He makes a deal with Cletus to have the symbiote power in exchange for serving Dormammu; Cletus accepts the offer and bonds with the symbiote, turning into Carnage, and then escapes the prison. Carnage and Venom team up with each other and steal the portal device so Dormammu can travel to earth and consume souls. In the next episode, "Carnage", after Venom betrays Dormammu, Carnage is offered the ability to absorb the life force out of people so Dormammu can have enough energy to escape his dimension. Carnage accepts, eager to witness the destruction Dormammu would wreck on the world. Carnage also kidnaps Eddie's girlfriend Ashley. Spider-Man calls for Iron Man's help in order to stop Carnage and send Dormammu back to his own reality. Venom also joins forces with Spider-Man to help save Ashley. A final showdown results in a fight between Spider-Man, Carnage, Dormammu, Iron Man and Venom in an underground cave where Carnage has released Dormammu. Iron Man discovers Carnage must be sent into the portal as well in order for it to close. As Carnage is sucked into the portal, he grabs Ashley saying that he will not leave unless someone goes with him. Venom then pounces on Carnage, releasing Ashley as Carnage and Venom are sucked into the portal as it closes. In the series finale he is the main antagonist, the Carnage symbiote is seen arriving on an alternate Earth through a portal, merging with that reality's Spider-Man who possesses Cletus Kasady's psychopathic personality- although evidence suggested that the Spider-Man it merged with may have been a clone- and driving him insane. The resulting 'Spider-Carnage' begins developing a weapon that can destroy all reality out of his anger at the torment he has suffered since acquiring his powers, his plans only being thwarted by a team of alternate Spider-Men assembled by the Beyonder and Madame Web. The "original" Spider-Man follows Spider-Carnage to yet another alternate dimension, but being no match for the symbiote in a fight, instead locates Uncle Ben, who in this reality is still alive. Ben convinces the alternate Peter Parker to try to separate from the Carnage symbiote, but the bond is too strong, and he sacrifices himself by leaping into a blank dimension, thus saving all of reality. In the episode "The Haunting of Mary Jane Waston", a robotic verson of Carnage appeared in Mysterio's underground hideout.
Carnage appears semi-regularly in Spider-Man Unlimited voiced by Michael Donovan.
Cletus Kasady makes a non-speaking cameo appearance in The Spectacular Spider-Man episode "Reinforcement." He is shown as a patient wearing a Santa Claus hat in Ravencroft, during a group therapy session with Doctor Octopus and Electro when Kraven the Hunter attacks to break out the two villains.
Carnage's first appearance in a motion picture was originally planned for a film written by David S. Goyer and produced by New Line Cinema, in which Venom would have been portrayed as an antihero and Carnage as the antagonist. Goyer said in an interview the film rights to Venom ultimately reverted to Sony.
Carnage is a boss character in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man/X-Men: Arcade's Revenge, The Amazing Spider-Man: Lethal Foes, and Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage and its sequel Venom/Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety.
Carnage is a boss in the 2000 Spider-Man video game, voiced by Dee Bradley Baker. He assists Doctor Octopus in a plot to establish a symbiote invasion. After Spider-Man defeats Carnage, the symbiote attaches itself to Doctor Octopus, turning him into the Monster-Ock. It destroys much of the underwater base when chasing Spider-Man. When the base explodes, the symbiote protects Doctor Octopus from harm before detaching itself from him and heading back into the underwater base, presumably to rebond with Cletus Kasady.
Carnage appears in the Ultimate Spider-Man video game. This version is Peter Parker who was injected with micro-symbiotes by Adrian Toomes. It breaks free and fights Venom. After being defeated, Venom absorbs the Carnage symbiote into himself, giving him complete control over the suit.
Carnage is a playable character in the PSP version of Spider-Man: Friend or Foe, voiced by Fred Tatasciore. At the end of the game, Nick Fury dubs the research of the meteor shards "Project: Carnage."
Carnage is a playable character in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2, voiced again by Fred Tatasciore. He is only available for download, and is the first downloadable content character outside of the six characters to be featured in an updated version for the PS3 and Xbox. The DLC pack was at first removed but recently became available once more until December 2010. The DLC also includes an extra mission where the player fights Carnage after fighting several other bosses from the game.
Spider-Carnage appears as an alternate costume in the Nintendo Wii version of Spider-Man: Web of Shadows.
Ultimate Carnage appears as a villain in the final Ultimate segment in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, voiced again by Fred Tatasciore. Carnage (or Prisoner 900M) has been captured by S.H.I.E.L.D. and brought to the Triskelion as well as a fragment from the Tablet of Order and Chaos. S.H.I.E.L.D. was doing experiments on both and foolishly put Carnage and the fragment together to study the resulting combination. With the power of the fragment, Carnage gains the power to reanimate those he drained the life from as mindless zombies, which eventually mutate into creatures like himself. Spider-Man pursues Carnage throughout the burning ruins of the Triskelion and eventually defeats him with the help of a small amount of reprogrammed Spider-Slayers armed with flamethrowers and retrieves the final fragment, leaving the creature pinned under rubble.
The Universal Orlando Resort's 2002 Halloween Horror Nights featured a haunted maze entitled "Maximum Carnage". The maze was designed to be a trip through Carnage's hideout and contained all his henchmen and the remains of various superheroes. The house was located in "Island under Siege", formerly Marvel's superhero island. Carnage also was the icon chosen to represent that specific island for the event. The event's main icon, "The Caretaker," chose him based on his disregard for life and desire to see total chaos.
The song "Carnage Rules" by Green Jell˙, which is featured as the first song on their album 333, is written about the character and is used as the theme song for the Maximum Carnage video game.
Carnage appears in the Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark musical as a member of the Sinister Six and is played by Collin Baja.
Takes at the One Million Comix store in Toronto as indicated by the date.
Carnage is ©2012 Marvel Characters, Inc.