Having inherited the darkness of his distant ancestor, Cletus Cortland Kasady is a sociopathic serial killer who has bonded with an alien symbiote to gain superpowers, and goes by the alias of Carnage.
According to distrustful sources, Cletus died as soon as he was born and had a vision of the eldritch God of Darkness, Knull. Cletus was raised by his supposed grandmother, who was very abusive towards him. Killing her, he would then go to a foster family, kill the mother's dog and witness his foster father killing his foster mother. Sent to an orphanage as a result, Cletus burned the orphanage to the ground for the bullying he suffered.
Marked by these events, Cletus would eventually meet Eddie Brock (better known as the super-villain Venom) in a prison cell. Cletus plotted to murder his cell-mate, but before he could strike the Venom symbiote came and broke Brock out of prison, unwittingly leaving a small part of itself behind. This offspring merged with Cletus through a wound and entered his bloodstream, merging with his blood and becoming red-and-black in color. Dubbing himself Carnage, Cletus would become a deadly recurring enemy to both Spider-Man and Venom.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Early Life
- 1.2 Meeting Venom
- 1.3 Rebirth
- 1.4 Maximum Carnage
- 1.5 Loss and Restoration of the Carnage Symbiote
- 1.6 Toxin
- 1.7 Raft Break-Out
- 1.8 Carnage, U.S.A.
- 1.9 Minimum Carnage
- 1.10 Superior Carnage
- 1.11 Deadpool vs. Carnage
- 1.12 AXIS
- 1.13 Post-AXIS
- 1.14 The Darkhold
- 1.15 The Poison Invasion
- 1.16 Prophet of the Void
- 1.17 Posthumous Activities
- 2 Personality
- 3 Powers and Abilities
- 4 Paraphernalia
- 5 Notes
- 6 Trivia
- 7 See Also
- 8 Links and References
Accounts of Cletus Kasady's birth and childhood are known only through secondhand accounts and Kasady's own flawed recollections. Purportedly, he born in the Ravencroft Institute to a mother with paranoid schizophrenia, who died shortly after his birth.
Remanded into the custody of a physically-abusive old woman who may or may not have been his biological grandmother, Cletus killed her by pushing her down a flight of stairs. Cletus was subsequently sent to live with Roscoe and Louise - who were either foster parents or his biological father and step-mother. While in their care, Cletus tortured and killed his mother's dog, Fifi. Afterward, Roscoe killed Louise either by accident while beating Cletus, or while trying to stop Louise from killing Cletus in retaliation for him killing her dog. Regardless, Roscoe was arrested and received no defense from Cletus 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 administration, pushing a girl who refused a date with him in front of a bus and burning down the orphanage.
As an adult Cletus became a notorious serial killer, but he was ultimately arrested and sentenced to eleven consecutive terms at Ryker's Island; he bragged of having killed a dozen more people. An opportunity for early parole presented itself in the form of his new cell mate, Eddie Brock, who was the former host of an extraterrestrial symbiote once bonded to Spider-Man. Monster and man had merged to become the villainous Venom, but Brock had been separated from the Venom symbiote during a battle with Spider-Man and the supervillains Styx and Stone. Cletus dismissed Brock's claims of being Venom and that the symbiote would return for him as a delusion and attempted to convert him to his nihilistic and homicidal philosophy on life: even the average person can commit murder, if only he has the courage. Brock was disgusted by Kasady's worldview and quickly developed an antagonistic relationship with his cellmate, brutally beating him on multiple occasions.
Cletus, fed up with his cell-mate's disdain towards him, decided to murder Eddie using a shiv he'd created. Before he could do so, the Venom symbiote entered their cell through the window and bonded to Brock, who - transformed into Venom once more - incited a destructive jailbreak. Unknown to its human host, the symbiote was pregnant and gave birth during the disastrous rescue. Left behind in the midst of the riot that ensued, the symbiote's spawn bonded with Kasady, entering into his bloodstream through a cut on his hand and amalgamating with his blood. Empowered far beyond the levels of Spider-Man and Venom combined, Kasady dubbed himself Carnage and made good his escape - intent on using his new-found power to disseminate his lethal doctrine: his first victim, a security guard named Ramone he pulled through the bars of his cell; the second, Gunther Stein, being chosen from a telephone book.
Embarking on a citywide killing spree, Carnage was confronted by Spider-Man. However, the wall-crawler's amazing arachnid-like abilities were insufficient to subdue the thrice-strong serial killer, forcing Spider-Man to enlist the aid of the Fantastic Four. He also sought the assistance of another, more dangerous ally: Venom, his hated foe. Venom was reluctant to ally with Spider-Man, but despised Kasady even more and agreed to help. Facing the combined might of Spider-Man and Venom, Carnage was captured. He was imprisoned first at the Vault and then his birthplace, Ravencroft Institute.
In part to his insatiable bloodlust, Carnage's strength and abilities far exceeded those of his predecessors, Venom and Spider-Man. Once, he even dispatched his symbiote through a phone line by reducing the alien to its cellular level. When an army of symbiotes invaded Earth, Carnage learned to feed on the other aliens to increase his own mass, possibly surpassing Manhattan Bridge in height. However, Kasady's bloodthirsty endeavors ultimately culminated with his return to Ravencroft.
A doctor at Ravencroft, hoping to find a "cure" for his madness, drew blood from Kasady unwittingly enabling Kasady to transform into Carnage; who went 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 drove ordinary New Yorkers to attack one another. Carnage and his "family" were ultimately driven back by Spider-Man, Venom and a number of other superheroes and anti-heroes, with Carnage and Shriek being remanded to Ravencroft.
Loss and Restoration of the Carnage Symbiote
Cletus Kasady was stripped of the Carnage symbiote by Venom, who ripped it from his body and devoured it. Without the symbiote, Kasady attempted to reassume the Carnage persona by costuming himself in red paint and continuing his killing sprees, claiming that he still possessed at least some of Carnage's strength and convinced that he only needed to kill Spider-Man and Venom to regain his symbiote. Spider-Man nevertheless easily defeated him in a fight, and he was sent back to prison. Guided by remnants of the Carnage symbiote within his body, Kasady travelled to the Negative Zone, where he found a second symbiote that had been sealed away and bonded with it to become Carnage again.
During a battle with Venom, Carnage discovered his symbiote was about to give birth. Feeling threatened by its existence, Carnage attempted to suppress the birth and destroy it. However, Venom wanted to raise and train the new symbiote as an ally and partner. Weakened by the actual birthing, Carnage was unable to kill the newborn, bonding it to Patrick Mulligan, a New York City cop. Venom named the new symbiote Toxin, after himself. Fearing that Toxin would grow to become someone like Spider-Man, Venom made a temporary alliance with Carnage to kill his "grandson", but in the end they were defeated by the combined efforts of Spider-Man, Toxin and Black Cat.
Carnage was seemingly killed when the Sentry ripped him in half and flung him into low Earth orbit. According to Iron Man's computer, Kasady may not have been inside the symbiote when the Sentry ripped it apart.
However, it was later discovered that Kasady was in fact within the symbiote when the incident occurred, but both survived due to the symbiote putting them into a dormant state. Orbiting Earth, Carnage's body crashed into a satellite and was found by Michael Hall, the satellite's owner and a competitor of Tony Stark, who then proceeded to retrieve it from space. Hall then separated Kasady from the symbiote and, using its properties, created prosthetic limbs and exo-suits which responded in the same ways as a symbiote. Dr. Tanis Nieves - Shriek's psychologist - was outfitted with one of these prosthetic arms after she was caught in an attack Doppelganger.
When near the red symbiote, her arm went wild and forced her to kill several scientists before she was forcefully bonded to it, becoming the new Carnage. After the symbiote used Tanis to break into a Hall Corporation facility, it left her behind and rebonded with Kasady, who was kept locked there after his body was repaired using Hall's prosthetics. Carnage battled Iron Man and Spider-Man, discovering that his symbiote had developed the ability to produce and control offshoots of itself as a result of Hall's experimentation. Using this power, Carnage killed and assimilated the "symbiotes" of Hall's super-guards to become "Mass Carnage". Meanwhile, Nieves' prothesis was revealed to be a new spawn of Carnage, which turned her into a new symbiote called Scorn. Scorn forced Shriek to use her sonic attack on Mass Carnage, who was revealed to be a construct made of Hall's super-guards, the real Carnage having escaped with Doppelganger.
Directed by his symbiote, Cletus arrived in Doverton, Colorado and took over their population by controlling them with offshoots of his symbiote, proclaiming this city the new capital of a new symbiote sovereign state. Part of the Avengers, along with the Thing, arrived to stop him, but were possessed by the symbiote's copies, letting Spider-Man the only hero standing. Spidey managed to get out from there with the help of the resistance of non-infected citizens.
When the Mercury Team, along with Scorn, attacked the zone in search of Carnage, Spider-Man and the resistance appeared to help them. Venom appeared just in time to save Spider-Man's life from Cletus, but when Scorn used a sonic weapon to sever the bond between Cletus and Carnage, she also affected Venom. Leaving Cletus against an invalid Flash Thompson, the two rogues symbiotes started fighting using animals. The Avengers and Scorn managed to weak Carnage's and destroy Cletus' cybernetic legs using a sonic weapon, while a gorilla with Venom's took it back to Flash; when both of them were fighting. The Carnage symbiote was captured by Scorn, while Cletus was taken into custody in a Quinjet.
Cletus was put into custody in the Thunderbolts Mountain and his symbiote was seemingly destroyed. He was contacted by beings of the Microverse, who managed to see inside his mind and offer him a treat; they would give him the Microverse to get a whole new universe to kill in exchange for his services. The symbiote regenerated due to having integrated itself into him at a cellular level, letting him become Carnage once more. Escaping, Carnage traveled to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Texas and used a new technology to escape to the Microverse, even after Scarlet Spider tried to stop him.
He betrayed his allies, who wanted to bring him to their master, Marquis Radu, in order to create a symbiotic army; and killed most of them while Venom and Scarlet Spider followed him to the Microverse. After dealing with the Scarlet Spider, Carnage was taken prisoner along with Venom, who was captured along his allies, the Enigma Force, by Marquis Radu's army.
The symbiotes of Venom and Carnage were replicated and hybridized to create the powerful army which would destroy the Microverse. Cletus managed to take control over the symbiotic army and used it to escape to the regular universe, where he was finally defeated by the combined efforts of Venom and Scarlet Spider, who used a special weapon given to them by the Enigma Force. After being stung by the Scarlet Spider, Cletus cured his wounds, but was left in a catatonic state, meaning that the symbiote was now in full control of his body, although it was put into custody once more and sedated.
Carnage was freed from imprisonment by The Wizard, who, still thinking Cletus was in control of the symbiote, wanted to make him part of his newest Frightful Four. However, Carnage was unaffected by The Wizard's powers and attacked him. Before Carnage was able to finish him off, Klaw was able to stop Carnage and save The Wizard. After realizing that Carnage could not be affected by his powers, and could not be separated from his host by traditional means since the Symbiote was embedded in Cletus' blood, The Wizard began transferring Carnage to a new host by transfusing Cletus' blood into Karl Malus. Later, The Wizard blew up his secret base, with Kasady still inside, apparently killed.
However, Cletus survived the explosion, with some major skin burns, and was recovered by Superior Spider-Man's Spiderlings. When the Carnage symbiote bonded to The Wizard, Otto decided he could use the symbiote's preference for Cletus in order to make it abandon The Wizard, by taking Kasady to the scene, and contain the alien before it could merge with its original host. However, the mission failed, and Cletus became Carnage once more as the Spiderlings failed to contain the symbiote. Carnage rampaged through the scene until Klaw, whose sonic body had been dispersed, managed to redirect lightning to Carnage and separate him from Kasady. Both beings were taken separately to custody. Unknown to Spider-Man, the symbiote's rebonding with Kasady fixed the villain's brain, who was now no longer lobotomized.
Cletus became a model prisoner, for which he was transferred to Kramer Penitentiary. He was fatally wounded by a fellow inmate, who was paid by Dr. Jenner, Cletus' psychologist who wanted to become Carnage's new host. Kasady was suffocated to death with a pillow by Jenner in Kramer's infirmary. When the Carnage symbiote escaped containment and returned to Cletus, it refused Jenner's offer to become its new host, and bonded and reanimated Cletus, becoming Carnage once more and killing the entire staff and prisoners to send the message to the world that "Carnage was back."
Deadpool vs. Carnage
Cletus decided to go 'back to basics' and went on a seemingly random killing spree with no reason or patterns to his victims. However Deadpool was able to find a pattern in Carnage's madness and continually found him much to Cletus' frustration. Playing mind games with Carnage, Deadpool was able to put doubt in Cletus in the existence of chaos and that all his actions were being controlled by an outside force. This came to a head when Carnage almost killed Shriek, and he placed himself in an unlocked jail cell to wait until his mind was clear of doubt again.
When the Red Onslaught was unleashed, Magneto recruited numerous villains to stop the madman's Stark Sentinels. He approached Carnage in his self-confinement, and convinced Cletus to join him as there would be nothing more chaotic than him saving the world. Noticing Deadpool was part of Magneto's team, Carnage joined intending to exact revenge, but following the inversion spell which changed the moral axis of those in the island, they parted amicably.
After the inversion, Cletus returned to New York, stopping a robbery and apprehending the Squid with zero fatalities. Even though the spell brought out a desire to do good, his sociopath tendencies made it hard for him to behave like a hero, causing him to brutalize criminals and still be treated as a villain. After saving reporter Alice Gleason from a new Sin-Eater, whom Kasady seemingly killed, he kidnapped her to teach him how to be a real hero. Alice agreed to help him be good as long as he promised not to hurt her, which he accepted. They headed to a church for Cletus to confess his sins but he attacked a tomb digger thinking he was robbing from the graves. Alice instead recorded his confession in her phone and secretly sent it to her boss. He later stopped a bank robbery but tried to burn the bank to stop future robberies. He fled as the police arrived but Alice fell and was kidnapped by the Sin-Eater while Carnage was surrounded by the police. Despite being shot down by two missiles, Carnage located the Sin-Eater and rescued Alice. The Sin-Eater - who claimed to be the spirit of Emil Gregg - fed on Carnage's sins, growing into a giant while Cletus feels the burden on his conscience being relieved. Carnage defeated him by overloading him with a last sin: that he loved all the destruction he caused, and the Sin-Eater dwindles into a shriveled corpse that disintegrates. Feeling reborn, Carnage thanks the Sin-Eater's corpse for absolving his sins before having his head shot off by Alice. Regenerating, Carnage asked why she betrayed him, and Alice admitted that she had lied to him about being a good person and had only been using him for personal gain, screaming at the newly arrived police to open fire. Carnage misinterpreted her betrayal as a warning that falling in love was dangerous, and reaffirmed his desire to become a superhero while escaping.
Cletus was later reunited with the other inverted villains to form the Astonishing Avengers in order to stop the inverted heroes. Before the later-known "Battle of Manhattan," Carnage acted as the face of the Astonishing Avengers, dubbing them the "Axis of Evil", and had them take all of the blame for the actions of the inverted heroes in order to protect the reputations of the X-Men, Avengers, and Inhumans in the aftermath at the expense of the newly achieved heroic reputations of himself and Hobgoblin. The Astonishing Avengers fought the inverted X-Men in Manhattan, who were trying to detonate a gene bomb which would've killed everyone in the planet who wasn't a mutant. As the time was running out and there were no options left, while the Avengers were distracting the X-Men, Carnage decided to sacrifice himself and use the symbiote to wrap around the bomb and contain the explosion, seemingly killing him. Before his apparent death, Cletus asked Spider-Man to build an extravagant memorial for him. His death was seemingly confirmed when Wasp found the remains of the Carnage symbiote around the area where the bomb had been. After Cletus' apparent death and in the aftermath of the battle itself, Peter Parker was seen building the memorial as he had promised.
Cletus was able to survive the gene bomb's explosion, though he lost his legs in the process. Cured of his inversion after a counterspell was cast and disgusted by his behavior as a hero, he went to Carefree, Arizona, to pay a visit to a new friend he'd made during the time he was inverted, a friend he was willing to "help", Sam Alexander aka Nova. Cletus left a message signaling his return in the form of murdering a random bystander who he had asked where to find the boy as proof that he was reverted to his natural moral axis.
After learning that Sam's mother worked at a local diner, Cletus took her hostage there in order to get his attention, but, tired of waiting, Cletus decided to kill her. Nova arrived before he could do so and took him away from the diner to an empty area in order not to hurt anyone. While fighting, Nova tried to convince him that he wasn't Sam Alexander, but Cletus didn't believe him. After being wounded by the Nova Force, Cletus fled to let his symbiote heal him as the police arrived. The next day, already healed from his burns, Cletus attacked Sam again, this time at his school. While attacking Sam, Carnage saw Nova flying around the area, thus making it impossible for the boy to be Nova (unbeknownst to him, that was Sam's mother wearing his helmet). Enraged, Carnage followed the false Nova, but lost sight of her. He then started to attack innocent people to try and get Nova's attention, provoking a new battle between them.
Carnage was taken by Nova to the sky and then punched into the parking lot below, the impact setting off the cars' alarms, dizzying Cletus and his symbiote. Cletus was then thrown by Nova, who had already realized Carnage's weakness to loud sounds, into an Anthrax (a heavy metal band which Cletus was a fan of) show nearby. As the symbiote screamed in pain, Cletus fled to the road, but was attacked by Nova again. He threw a car at Nova, who caught it midair, and took advantage of it to punch him. As he was about to finish his opponent off, Carnage was hit by a truck. He was then tied in metal plates by Nova, and left by his symbiote as he revealed he wanted to kill Nova because he wanted to erase any memory of his good deeds from the time he had his moral axis inverted from anyone who remembered it. He was left by Sam in Ryker's Island.
Having escaped from Rykers, Carnage was lured to Grey Ridge Mine in West Virginia by the FBI upon learning its chief of security, Manuela Calderon, was the sole survivor of Kasady's first mass murder. A task force that included FBI agent Clarie Dixon, Army soldier John Jameson (aka Man-Wolf) and Eddie Brock (the latest host of the Toxin symbiote) attempted to capture Carnage, but the plan fell apart when Carnage and several FBI agents fell through a fracture into a played-out section of the mine, an occurrence set up by the owner of the mine, Barry Gleason, who turned out to be a member of the occult group known as the Darkholders. Gleason lured Carnage deeper into the mine until he reached a secret temple, where Gleason and the Darkholders attempted to sacrifice Carnage in a ritual that involved the Darkhold, a book of ancient times that made reference to Carnage as the "Red Slayer." The ritual resulted in the unexpected enhancement of Carnage's powers, prompting Kasady to take the Darkhold with him when he slip away from the FBI's task force.
Carnage would soon make his way to an uncharted island where he could unlock the Darkhold's powers. On his way there, he hijacked a freighter a group of Darkholders planned to use to bring Carnage to said island, and learned in the process the Darkhold's connection to Elder God Chthon. The FBI's task force followed him to the ship, now joined by Darkhold expert Victoria Montesi, and tried to stop him. Carnage used the Darkhold on Claire Dixon, turning her into his own symbiote-possessed puppet named Raze. In an attempt to destroy Carnage, Raze and the Darkhold, the task force blew up the freighter. Carnage survived, and was found adrift at sea by young sailor Jubulile van Scotter. Carnage infected Jubulile with a symbiote, which created a psychic connection between the two, but she managed to escape and was later found by the anti-Carnage task force.
Once he reached the island and reunited with Raze, Carnage delved deeper into its territory until he found the Chthonic temple and the altar. He performed a ritual that summoned Chthon to the world with the intention to destroy it. Kasady attempted to have Chthon reward him with more power, but failed. Having tracked down Carnage to the island and subsequently the temple, the task force confronted him. Chthon was confronted by Jubulile, who was empowered by her symbiote, the Toxin symbiote absorbed from Brock, and the Raze symbiote absorbed from Dixon. Jubulile was given more power when Montesi took the Darkhold from Carnage and fed her psychic energies from all over the world, allowing her to become powerful enough to banish Chthon. Montesi also used the Darkhold on Carnage, casting a spell that stripped Kasady of his symbiote and reshaped it into a cage that detained him. The members of the task force later parted ways, with Calderon and Jameson deciding to deliver Kasady to the FBI.
Kasady was subsequently stripped of the Carnage symbiote, with it having been kept separate from him at the Lock Box before being stolen and delivered to Norman Osborn. Osborn ultimately ripped the Carnage symbiote off when he realized that Cletus would get the credit if he killed Spider-Man while bonded to it, but the symbiote installed a copy of Cletus' psyche into Osborn's mind when it was killed in the process of bonding to him, giving him a new split personality.
The Poison Invasion
Kasady was re-incarcerated in Ravencroft, placed in a specialized cell that kept him immobilized and suspended off the ground. When the Poison Hive attacked Earth-616, Kasady was approached by Poisoned incarnations of Morbius, Kraven the Hunter, and Lady Deathstrike, who mocked how pathetic he was without the Carnage symbiote or his legs. Pleased that Kasady's insatiable bloodlust was intact, the Poisons brought him onboard their flagship and offered him the chance to become Carnage again if he allied with them. Kasady - unaware that the Poisons intended to consume him before he became a threat and use the ensuing Poison Carnage as a weapon of mass destruction - eagerly accepted, believing they would return his beloved symbiote to him. He was instead used as a test subject and forcibly bonded a new symbiote that the remnants of the Carnage symbiote in his blood attempted to reject, causing him excruciating pain in the process. Upon breaking free, he began to rampage but was quickly consumed by an unbound Poison. Despite Poison Doom's precautions, Cletus' psyche was able to mostly-resist being consumed, and Poison Carnage only pretended to be loyal to the Hive. He attacked Alchemax alongside Poison Doctor Druid, Poison Killer Thrill, the Poison X-Force, and Poison Thundra; but was angered when informed their mission wasn't to fight but to bolster the Hive's ranks.
Poison Carnage threatened Poison Doctor Druid into teleporting him and the other Poisons back to their ship. Once there, Poison Carnage battled both Venom and Spider-Man, nearly decapitating the former and impaling the latter. He was ultimately tossed into space by Venom and Danger.
After the Poison Queen's death, Poison Carnage's crystalline exoskeleton and consumed symbiote crumbled to reveal Cletus Kasady somehow restored to humanity. As gravity took hold of Cletus, the remnants of the original Carnage symbiote emerged in an attempt to shield his body from the reentry plasma but perished despite its Darkhold-augmentations, leaving him badly burnt. Cletus crash-landed in the desert and died from his severe injuries, his body being recovered and ID'd by authorities.
The Cult of Knull, an apocalyptic cult dedicated to worshiping Knull and led by a corrupted Scorn, attacked the convoy transporting Cletus' body to retrieve it, and later stole a sample of the primordial Grendel symbiote from the Maker's Project Oversight laboratory. Scorn bonded the piece of the Grendel symbiote to Cletus, intending to turn him into Knull's new vessel. Reanimated by the primordial symbiote, Cletus was psychically connected to the dark god, fighting against his will for control of his now-undead body. Cletus' connection to Knull was broken when he ripped out Scorn's spine to consume the trace remnants - or codex - of the Carnage symbiote left over from her time as its host and consumed it. Altering the piece of the Grendel symbiote to match the appearance of the Carnage symbiote, Cletus decided to help free Knull and set out to hunt down and consume the codices of the other symbiote hosts, living and deceased. Assuming leadership of the cult, Carnage subsequently conquered San Francisco's underground city -- which Venom had once guarded as the Lethal Protector -- and used his newfound abilities to infect the inhabitants with symbiote "brain worms" - maggots infected with the Carnagized Grendel symbiote - sending them to hunt down those who possessed symbiote codices.
Recruiting Shriek and Doppelganger once more, Carnage returned to Doverton, Colorado and claimed the codices of the Carnage symbiote left in its populace; infecting John Jameson with the Carnagized Grendel symbiote so that he could act as a sleeper agent. Carnage -- now sporting Knull's spiral emblem on his forehead -- traveled to Philadelphia to claim Andi Benton's symbiote codex, killing her aunt Sarah and the Monsters of Evil, though Andi used the demonic powers of her Hell-Mark to escape. Carnage returned to Manhattan, but during the War of the Realms he opted to sit out the combat and chaos rather than reveal himself prematurely; establishing a lair in the sewers and subways under Grand Street, and infecting more homeless people and animals with the Carnageized Grendel symbiote to act as his minions. After the war's end, Carnage began sending his minions out to hunt for codices, and resurrected Emil Gregg to torment Eddie. Carnage and his followers also exhumed the bodies of every deceased people who'd bonded to a symbiote, harvested their codices, and left the desecrated bodies in a mass grave in the shape of Knull's spiral.
Greatly empowered, Kasady was transformed into "Dark Carnage" -- a thirteen foot-tall skeletal monster with Knull's spiral on its forehead and a white dragon/spider emblem on his chest. Harvesting the codices of the Weapon V super-soldier program and Leonard Elkhart, a one-time host of the Venom symbiote, Dark Carnage traveled to Nicaragua and attacked Alejandra Jones, whose Spirit of Vengeance had at one point melded with the Venom symbiote and transferred a codex into her. Despite interference from another Ghost Rider, Danny Ketch, Dark Carnage ripped out Alejandra's spine and ate it, temporarily absorbing her Spirit of Vengeance. Delighting in his new demonic powers, Dark Carnage battled Ketch but was retrieved by his followers when they started to fade. Chastised for losing sight of the cult's goals, Dark Carnage lashed out at them before resuming the hunt for codices.
Upon arriving in Manhattan, Dark Carnage attempted to break into the old Avengers Tower, impersonating Eddie Brock and allowing himself to be arrested. Kasady informed the police of his resurrection and plan to unleash Knull in such a way as to make Brock look like a raving lunatic, and was imprisoned in Ryker's Island. Still posing as Brock, Kasady was confronted by Lee Price - who had formerly hosted the Venom symbiote and was currently the host of the Mania symbiote - in the prison cafeteria. When Price threatened him, Kasady ripped the Mania symbiote out of him and bonded to it, destroying the security cameras in order to frame Brock. Transforming into Dark Carnage, Kasady slaughtered the inmates in the cafeteria and broke out of the prison; making his way to the mainland and selecting Spider-Man as his next target.
Noticing Eddie Brock and his son Dylan, Cletus pursued them into the subway and pushed Eddie and Dylan in front of an oncoming train - in mockery of what Eddie had once done to Spider-Man. The Venom symbiote rebonded to Eddie and derailed the train to save him and Dylan, and Cletus transformed into Dark Carnage; laughing off Venom's attacks and attempting to rip the Venom symbiote off Eddie so that he could absorb it. Eddie managed to incapacitate Dark Carnage by grabbing onto the third rail - exploiting the Carnagized Grendel symbiote's vulnerability to electricity - but Cletus quickly recovered. Setting his sights on Norman Osborn, Cletus made his way to Ravencroft and activated John Jameson to keep Spider-Man and Venom - who has shown up to protect Osborn - occupied. Cletus infected the inmates with the Carnagized Grendel symbiote - turning them into four-armed red-and-black monsters resembling the Doppelganger - and sicced his army on Spider-Man and Venom before throwing Spider-Man through the door of Osborn's cell. Amused by Osborn believing himself to be Cletus Kasady, Dark Carnage bonded him to the Carnageized Grendel symbiote and turned him into a duplicate of his original Carnage form - much like what Norman himself had done with his grandson, Normie Osborn, to transform him into the Goblin Childe.
Taking over the asylum and indoctrinating the inmates into his cult, Dark Carnage claimed Shriek's codex and resurrected Demogoblin using her corpse as a vessel. After Deadpool interrupted the cult's gathering and burned down Ravencroft, Kasady marked him as a priority target due to him having the codex of the Hybrid symbiote. Growing increasingly annoyed by Osborn's delusion of being Cletus Kasady, Dark Carnage returned to his lair underneath Grand Street and unleashed his horde on the city: sending the symbiote-doppelgangers to rampage and flush out former hosts in-hiding; "Demagoblin" and Man-Wolf after Misty Knight; the Knull-corrupted Riot, Agony, Phage, and Lasher after Normie to claim his Carnage codex; and Osborn after the Scorpion to claim his Venom and Mania codices; and the resurrected Knull-corrupted Scream after Andi Benton to claim her Mania codex. He also sent Will o' the Wisp, Conundrum and Freak after Deadpool, with Osborn arriving soon after. When Scream betrayed him, Dark Carnage personally killed its host - Patricia Robertson - though the Scream symbiote transferred to Andi Benton, who escaped.
Again disguising himself as Eddie Brock, Dark Carnage snuck into the warehouse where Eddie, Spider-Man, and a number of other former symbiote hosts were hiding in to use a machine called the S.C.I.T.H.E, which could non-fatally remove codices. Approached by Spider-Man, who fell for his disguise, Cletus learned that Dylan Brock was Eddie's son. When the real Eddie arrived, accidentally revealing that Spider-Man was Peter Parker, Dark Carnage unveiled himself and summoned a horde of Carnage Doppelgangers to attack the warehouse. The Venom symbiote, tired of Eddie's refusal to face Dark Carnage for fear of orphaning Dylan, decided to bond with Bruce Banner, though Carnage killed him in the middle of it. However, as Dark Carnage had no idea who Banner was, he was shocked when Banner resurrected as the Savage Hulk and completed the bonding, delivering a powerful blow that he actually felt.
As they battled, Dark Carnage sensed the One Below All's power and wondered what would happen if he forced open the Green Door and merged it with Knull's eldritch darkness; though the Venomized Hulk rebuked his offer of an alliance. Stabbing tendrils into the Hulk's brain, Dark Carnage forced him to revert into Bruce Banner and then ripped the Venom symbiote off of him. Assimilating it, Dark Carnage transformed into an even more powerful form sporting draconic wings and horns, and pauldrons and arm-wraps resembling Knull's. With the Carnageized Grendel symbiote now powerful enough to free Knull from his prison, Dark Carnage took off; pursued by Eddie Brock - who had merged the codices harvested using the S.C.I.T.H.E. into a duplicate of the Venom symbiote.
As they fought in midair and on the rooftops, Dark Carnage gloated that he was on the cusp of victory and could see his horde about to kill Eddie's allies, telling Eddie to give up and let himself be consumed. Caught off-guard by the sudden arrival of Cloak, Dagger, Iron Fist, Firestar, Morbius, Deathlok, Captain Marvel, Deadpool, and Scream turning the tables; Dark Carnage was tackled through the ground and into the tunnel where Dylan Brock and Normie Osborn were hiding.
Snaring Dylan, Dark Carnage mockingly told Eddie that he had tricked him into claiming the remaining codices and that he now faced a decision in which both choices -- letting Dark Carnage kill Dylan or killing Dark Carnage to save Dylan -- would lead to Knull reawakening. Manifesting a Necrosword from his symbiote, Eddie impaled Dark Carnage before cutting him in half, Cletus' corpse falling apart as the merged Grendel and Venom symbiotes left him for Eddie.
Despite the death of his physical body, Cletus' consciousness was apparently preserved within the Symbiote Hive-Mind via his codex, enabling him to posthumously control the Grendel symbiote's offshoot. When the Carnage-ized Grendel symbiote bonded to Eddie Brock, Cletus dragged Eddie's consciousness into the Hive-Mind and tormented him with nightmares of his worst fears come to life, intending to control his body and use it to pick up where he'd left off.
After Eddie was saved by Dylan and the Venom symbiote, Cletus bonded the Carnage-ized Grendel symbiote to a shark and escaped the Isla de Huesos. After several weeks, Cletus attempted to take part in Knull's invasion of Earth, taking over one of the crew of a whaling ship. However, by that point Eddie had defeated Knull and become the new God of Symbiotes, telepathically telling Cletus that Carnage had no place in his reformed Symbiote Hive. As hundreds of symbiotes controlled by Venom attacked him, Carnage was thrown into the ocean and the Carnage-ized Grendel symbiote was devoured by a horde of symbiote-controlled sharks.
- Did you know that my mother went through electroshock treatments when she was pregnant with me? This was before they would sedate you for that kind of thing... and then, you know... I died minutes after I was born... went to Hell... came back... that whole thing... I've had therapists try to tell me that these "early traumas" led me to being... the way I am. I've heard it all, you know... I'm this way because of abuse, because of video games, or sex and violence on TV, because of guns and knives and the wickedness of this mean old world. But what none of them get... is those things didn't make me what I am. I am made... of them. I am abuse. I am sex and violence. I am the guns and knives and the wickedness of this mean @#$%#&% world... you know my name. Now scream it.
- --Dark Carnage[src]
Having his bloodline tainted by his distant ancestor, Cletus Kasady was destined to be a nihilistic yet also gleefully sadistic and ruthless sociopath with an insatiable bloodlust, ostensibly stemming from a vision he had of the dark elder god Knull when he was an infant. As a youth, Cletus was pushed further into hatred and nihilism by the abuse he suffered at the hands of his grandmother, father, and the staff and other orphans at St. Estes Home for Boy. As a result, Cletus delights in wanton bloodshed and worships the ideal of chaos through random acts of violence; believing that laws and order are meaningless constructions and that by killing others he is freeing them.
Carnage is a loner, and any alliances he makes are short-lived at best - usually ending in him turning on his allies in order to kill them. He once formed a team of bloodthirsty supervillains to assist him in conquering Manhattan, intending to kill them once he grew bored. He also briefly allied himself with Blastaar for the sake of aiding in his attempted invasion of Earth, later betraying him in the hopes of killing trillions of people at once. When briefly consumed by a Poison, Kasady's sheer bloodlust enabled his consciousness to subjugate that of the Poison; and he feigned loyalty to the Hive while in the presence of the Poison Queen, but quickly went rogue in order to pursue and fight against Venom and Spider-Man.
When struck by the Illuminizer Ray amplified by Iron Fist's chi, Dagger's Lightforce, and - unintentionally - Shriek's psionic abilities, Cletus was forced to experience hope, compassion, and the possibility of healing and redemption - concepts that were anathema to him after years of abuse and bloodlust. This experience briefly left him traumatized, causing him to flee in terror at the thought of being killed by Venom and hallucinate the ghosts of his past tormenters - who he had murdered years ago - mocking him.
After having his moral alignment inverted following World War Hate, Kasady desired to do good and repent for the monstrous acts he had committed, struggling to suppress his bloodlust and avoid killing. While he was able to "atone" by feeding his sins to the demonic Sin Eater, and attempted to sacrifice himself; his moral inversion ultimately wore off and became something Kasady considered a humiliation.
At various times, Cletus has shown greater ambitions than wanton slaughter - attempting to conquer Doverton, Colorado and the Microverse - but he later dismissed these megalomaniacal endeavors as fool's errands and opted to go back to basics. While he attempted to unleash the eldritch god Chthon in order to bring about the end of the world, expecting to be granted even greater power in exchange for his services; he made no effort to ally himself with the Darkhold Cult - largely because they intended to sacrifice him. After bonding to an offshoot the Grendel symbiote and being pronounced the Prophet of the Void by the Cult of Knull, Cletus zealously devoted himself to Knull; desiring to become the King in Black's lieutenant and take part in his annihilation of the universe, even to the point of allowing Venom to kill him in order to ensure Knull's revival. As his connection to Knull increased, Cletus developed a god-complex to the point of deifying himself even before the Grendel symbiote offshoot's godly power was fully restored.
Cletus has only shown genuine affection to two individuals -- Shriek and the Carnage symbiote. While Cletus originally intended to kill Shriek when he grew bored of her, he was enraged when Deadpool attempted to kill her and tricked him into nearly doing so, and was similarly outraged when the Jackal beat and forcibly removed the Carrion virus from her while the two of them were imprisoned in Ravencroft. Cletus sees his symbiote as his soul mate and part of his true self - to the point of referring to it with female pronouns and calling it his "missus" after it spawned the Toxin symbiote. When bonded to a new symbiote by the Poisons after being separated from the Carnage symbiote, Cletus was outraged and demanded that the new symbiote be removed and his original symbiote be returned to him; and he was distraught when the Carnage symbiote perished attempting to save him from atmospheric reentry. During the time he was inverted, Cletus latched on to Alice Gleason to the extent that he fantasized about marrying and having children with her, though this was one-sided and Gleason was revolted by him.
Powers and Abilities
Prior to its death, the Carnage symbiote provided Cletus Kasady with a broad array of powers, some of which stemmed from its progenitor having been bonded to Spider-Man. Even without the symbiote, Cletus is still considered very dangerous, as his Antisocial Personality Disorder and obsession with chaos make him impossible to reason with and he has no trouble with killing with no motive. As a result of his symbiote and psychopathy, he is also immune to Ghost Rider's Penance Stare.
Primordial Symbiotic Costume: After the death of the original Carnage symbiote, Cletus Kasady was bonded to an offshoot of the primordial Grendel symbiote by a cult dedicated to worshipping the dark elder god Knull. While initially transforming the Grendel symbiote offshoot to match the original Carnage symbiote's appearance, after absorbing more codices and strengthening his connection to Knull, Carnage manifested the elder god's spiral sigil on his forehead. After absorbing numerous other codices and the Mania symbiote, he manifested a dragon/spider emblem on his chest and a pair of protrusions on his upper back. Even in this incomplete state, Dark Carnage's connections to Chthon through the curse of the Darkhold and Knull through the Carnageized Grendel symbiote effectively made him a demigod possessing power far beyond what a regular symbiote bestows its host. After assimilating even more codices and the Venom symbiote, Cletus restored the symbiote's full godly power and manifested black draconic horns, black pauldrons and arm-wraps resembling Knull's, and became able to transform his now-pointed back-protrusions into draconic wings. Being bonded to the Carnageized Grendel symbiote grants Cletus the following powers:
- Superhuman Strength: As Dark Carnage, Cletus' strength surpasses even that of the Devil Hulk and Juggernaut; letting him easily manhandle Venom and the symbiote-augmented Norman Osborn. Dark Carnage was even capable of overpowering the Hulk while the latter was augmented by the Venom symbiote, and after absorbing the Venom symbiote to become even stronger he fought and effortlessly defeated Captain America, Wolverine, and the Thing simultaneously.
- Superhuman Durability: Dark Carnage was capable of effortlessly shrugging off blows from Venom and Spider-Man. While the Savage Hulk was able to hit Dark Carnage hard enough for him to feel it while augmented by the Venom symbiote, he was unable to actually injure him during their brawl. He was also durable enough to withstand blows from Captain America, Wolverine, and the Thing attacking him simultaneously.
- Superhuman Stamina
- Superhuman Speed
- Superhuman Agility
- Superhuman Reflexes
- Regenerative Healing Factor
- Hive Mind Connection: The Carnageized Grendel symbiote possesses a psychic link to Knull, and if this link is strengthened by absorbing enough codices and symbiotes then it can be used to awaken him and free him from his prison.
- Fangs and Claws
- Constituent-Matter Generation: Kasady can generate tentacle-like appendages from various parts of his body, which he often uses either in combat situations or to restrain someone.
- Shapeshifting: Carnage is capable of altering his appearance at will, using this to assume his non-undead appearance, as well as to impersonate Eddie Brock in order to kill Lee Price. After absorbing the Venom symbiote he became able to manifest draconic wings.
- Symbiotic Expansion and Psychic Control: Carnage is able to infect and enslave others with symbiote-infected maggots he calls "brain worms"; and can bond people and animals to offshoots of the Grendel symbiote both in order to create more codices to harvest and to turn them into minions he can control.
- Symbiote and Codex Absorbtion/Augmentation: By consuming the codices of other symbiotes and even entire symbiotes, Dark Carnage is able to strengthen the Grendel symbiote's connection to the symbiote hive-mind and Knull, incrementally making him more powerful with every codex assimilated. By consuming the codices of superpowered hosts, the symbiote is temporarily imbued with whatever unique powers they possessed. If Dark Carnage absorbs enough codices and symbiotes, he will strengthen his symbiote to the point where he effectively becomes a god himself.
Darkhold Augmentation: After the Darkhold was exposed to his blood, Cletus Kasady was connected to the eldritch god Chthon. As a result of being empowered by it, the Carnage symbiote became immune to fire and sonics, an immunity passed down to the Dark Carnage symbiote after it bonded to Kasady.
Though he has had no formal training, the natural abilities granted to Kasady by the symbiote makes him a formidable combatant capable of holding his own against the likes of Spider-Man and Deadpool. However, even with the symbiote, his fighting skill is less refined than that of the experienced superheroes. Even Eddie Brock and Patrick Mulligan have had more practice.
Carnage's strength is greater than Venom and Spider-Man combined. Carnage is able to press lift up to 80 tons. This is not his true limit, however, as his strength increases with his size and variable muscle mass.
Insanity: Even without the symbiote, Cletus is a diagnosed psychopath, and is obsessed with chaos. His mental pathologies can also be exploited, allowing people to manipulate his actions.
Electricity: The Grendel symbiote is immensely vulnerable to high voltages of electricity, which easily incapacitates it.
Sonics: The Grendel symbiote is vulnerable to loud noises, which incapacitate it and its offshoots.
Carnage has fangs and claws courtesy of the symbiote, and can shape his limbs into various weapons.
- Cletus Kasady has bonded to at least four symbiotes over the course of his life and undeath: his original symbiote - seemingly extracted and assimilated by Venom, a replacement symbiote he found in the Negative Zone, a third symbiote forcibly bonded to him and later consumed by the Poisons, and an offshoot of the Grendel symbiote-dragon. Narratives such as Venom Vs. Carnage, Superior Carnage, and Venom Vol. 4 treat his original symbiote and the Negative Zone symbiote as one-and-the-same, leaving it possible that the remnants of the original symbiote in Cletus' blood overtook the second one, but an official in-universe explanation has not yet been given.
- When asked why Absolute Carnage referred to the Grendel symbiote as being the "Carnage symbiote" when it was bonded to Cletus Kasady, writer Donny Cates stated that any symbiote that Cletus Kasady bonds to becomes the "Carnage symbiote" due to him having been the one who first came up with the alias.
- The handbooks have been inconsistent regarding Carnage's official stats, particularly his strength level. For instance, New Avengers Most Wanted Files #1 described him as being capable of lifting up to 80 tons with his original symbiote; while the King in Black Handbook #1 described him as only being capable of lifting between 10 and 50 tons with his original symbiote and only 75 tons with the Carnageized Grendel symbiote despite him being stated to be stronger than any foe Venom had fought previously -- including the likes of the Juggernaut and Merged Hulk -- and being shown overpowering Weapon H, the Venomized Savage Hulk, and the Thing while not at full power.
- Despite having been established as being born in New York, Cletus has occasionally been depicted as speaking a Southern accent and being a supporter of the Confederate States of America, and has been called a hillbilly.
- Despite his prosthetic legs being destroyed in Carnage, U.S.A. #5, Cletus is shown with flesh-and-blood legs in Minimum Carnage, Superior Carnage, and Deadpool vs. Carnage - having regrown his entire body after being decapitated in Venom (Vol. 2) #27. He re-appears with robotic legs in Nova, and the pages of the second volume of Carnage, Venomized, and Absolute Carnage show Kasady to be missing most of his legs without his symbiote, indicating he lost them when attempting to sacrifice himself in Avengers & X-Men: AXIS #8.
- The symbol on Dark Carnage's chest is meant to be a white version of Knull's dragon emblem, though numerous artists have mistakenly drawn it as Venom/Mania's spider emblem.
- The King in Black Handbook #1 states that Cletus, while bonded to the Dark Carnage symbiote, was able to lift a maximum of 75 tons, but this is contradicted by Venom's statement in King in Black #1 that Dark Carnage was stronger than any enemy he'd fight before - including the Merged Hulk and Juggernaut, and his ability to fight evenly with the Venom symbiote-augmented Savage Hulk and casually overpower the Thing.
- As part of their sensationalization of Carnage as the chosen one of the dark elder god Knull, the Cult of Knull fabricated a story that Kasady died of nuchal cord strangulation nineteen minutes after being born, only to be resurrected by Knull, an experience that allegedly proved to be the impetus towards both his bloodlust and obsession with chaos.
- Cletus Kasady has bonded with the most number of symbiotes out of any human, surpassing even Eddie Brock. The symbiotes he has bonded to include the original Carnage symbiote, countless symbiotes he assimilated into the Carnage symbiote during the Planet of the Symbiotes event, numerous hybridized clones of the Carnage and Venom symbiotes, the second, third and fourth Carnage symbiotes, and the Mania and Venom symbiotes through the Dark Carnage symbiote.
- According to Ryan Stegman, Cletus Kasady's body count numbers from the tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands.
- Kasady had a teddy bear named Binky in his orphanage. He went back for Binky after he escaped Riker's.
- Cletus was revealed to have terminal stomach cancer in the issue where the symbiote bonded to the Silver Surfer, though it hasn't come up since.
- Cletus was erroneously depicted with blond hair in Minimum Carnage: Omega #1, as opposed to his usual red hair.
- Cletus alternatively refers to the Carnage symbiote with female and male pronouns.
- Cletus' favorite song is "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
- Cletus is a fan of the thrash metal group Anthrax, the Symbiote often making him listen to it with headphones.
- Carnage is the main villain on 2002's Universal Halloween Horror Nights, which was based on Maximum Carnage. However, Cletus managed to kill every hero who went after him (like Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America) and, with the help of other villains, took over the world.
- It has been a point of contention among fans as to whether Cletus regrew his lower body after having been torn in half at the waist by the Sentry or whether the instances where he was shown with flesh-and-blood legs were simply him using the symbiote to simulate them. However, his legless state while stripped of the symbiote in Carnage Vol. 2, Web of Venom: Carnage Born #1, and Absolute Carnage do not match his state in Carnage Vol. 1 and Carnage, U.S.A..
- Carnage is regarded as a messiah figure by two different apocalyptic cults dedicated to worshipping evil elder gods, the Darkholders and the Cult of Knull, having been prophesied to free both Chthon and Knull from their respective prisons. Both deities are inspired in part by elements from the Cthulhu Mythos.
- While it is implied Web of Venom: Cult of Carnage #1 that Cletus was resurrected, Donny Cates revealed in a podcast that he is undead, having been reanimated by the Grendel symbiote.
- When asked on Twitter if Dark Carnage's fifth form had a unique name, Ryan Stegman coined "Devil Carnage" and was pleasantly surprised when the fandom embraced and began using it.
- According to Donny Cates on Twitter, Cletus' middle name is "Cortland," after his great-great-great-great-grandfather.
- In Marvel Ultimate Comics: Absolute Carnage, Dark Carnage was voiced by Peter Kelamis.
- 170 appearance(s) of Cletus Kasady (Earth-616)
- 59 minor appearance(s) of Cletus Kasady (Earth-616)
- 50 mention(s) of Cletus Kasady (Earth-616)
- 598 image(s) of Cletus Kasady (Earth-616)
- 32 quotation(s) by or about Cletus Kasady (Earth-616)
- 3 victim(s) killed by Cletus Kasady (Earth-616)
- 1 item(s) used/owned by Cletus Kasady (Earth-616)
Links and References
- Cletus Kasady (Earth-616) on Wikipedia.org
- Carnage Rulz-A page of the Marvel World Order site, (informative though difficult to read)
- Brief bio at Insania 1998
- Brief bio at Spiderfan.org