The symbiote dragon that later became known as the Grendel was created billions of years ago by Knull, alongside a crimson symbiote dragon manifested from Knull's blood. Sent out into the cosmos, the two symbiote dragons rampaged across the cosmos for billions of years, slaughtering pantheons of gods and driving the inhabitants of countless civilizations insane before devouring them.
In the sixth century CE, the two symbiote dragons arrived on Earth and established a lair in a cave hidden behind a waterfall in Denmark. They embarked on a campaign of slaughter to subjugate the planet, razing entire cities to the ground and ravenously devouring any wildlife and humans they came across. At some point following their arrival on Earth, a cannibalistic cult formed and began worshiping the symbiote dragons, erecting grotesque monuments in reverence of them.
Mistaken for the monstrous dark elf called Grendel, the black symbiote dragon - which was being remote-piloted by Knull - began laying siege to Heorot Hall. Attacked by the Asgardian thunder god Thor Odinson, the Grendel attempted to kill him but was struck by Thor's divine lightning and trapped inside a glacier; forming the basis of the legend of Beowulf slaying a dragon.
Old Norse carvings depicting this battle were made by the symbiote-worshiping cult and reveal that pieces of the Grendel's living abyss fell to earth after its defeat and bonded to human hosts, bestowing the cult with knowledge of Knull and the symbiotes.
In 1965, the Grendel's frozen body was discovered by S.H.I.E.L.D., who excavated it and extracted samples of its living abyss to study. Upon determining that the living abyss could transform living beings into predatory monsters, S.H.I.E.L.D. - under direction from the US government to create a replacement for Captain America - established the Sym-Soldier Program, a super-soldier program headed by Nick Fury.
Upon realizing the Grendel was still alive, S.H.I.E.L.D. immediately began searching for a way to kill it, subjecting it to torturous experiments. However, they were unsuccessful and these efforts only sent its enraged offshoots on a killing spree in Vietnam. After its offshoots were subdued, the Sym-Soldier Program was deemed a failure and shut down, with the Grendel being placed into storage in a remote S.H.I.E.L.D. facility alongside them.
Having appropriated the shuttered Sym-Soldier Program's research and personnel, Weapon Plus established the Weapon V supersoldier program and began using samples of the Grendel symbiote to engineer suits of symbiote bio-armor, eventually learning how to sever their connection to the hive-mind.
Following the collapse of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Grendel and its offshoots were being transported to a top-secret location to be disposed of. After Venom interrupted the transport, the Grendel was awakened by Knull and reclaimed all but one of the offshoots extracted by the Sym-Soldier Program. The Grendel began rampaging across Manhattan, withstanding attempts by the NYPD and United States Army to defeat it. Confronted by Venom and Spider-Man, the Grendel attempted to devour them and swallowed Miles, who unleashed his bioelectric Venom Blast from inside it. Destabilized, the Grendel collapsed and Knull used its living abyss to manifest an avatar. Knocking Miles unconscious, Knull reformed the Grendel around himself, Spider-Man, and Eddie Brock - distracting the latter by telling him the history of the symbiotes - and flew into space; intent on locating and recovering its missing pieces and using it to free himself from Klyntar.
After Venom merged with one of the Grendel's missing pieces, the Tyrannosaurus symbiote, it connected to the Hive-Mind and called out to Knull. The Grendel attacked Rex's base and attempted to devour Venom again, but was destabilized using the Jury's sonic grenades. Knull's manifestation managed to rip the Venom and Tyrannosaurus symbiotes from Eddie and tried to assimilate them into the Grendel symbiote, but Eddie detonated all the sonic grenades at once. With Knull's manifestation weakened by the resulting explosion, the Tyrannosaurus symbiote was able to rebel and drag him into the blast furnace; sacrificing itself to immolate the Grendel symbiote and seemingly killing Knull in the process.
A small piece of the Grendel symbiote survived and was harvested by The Maker's organization, Project Oversight, before being stolen from his lab by the symbiote-worshipping cult and being bonded to Cletus Kasady. Cletus would go on a rampage to get enough codices to free Knull. He would finish his conquest while dying at the hands of Eddie Brock, who would absorb the codices, finally reconnecting Knull to the hive-mind and freeing him from his Klyntar.
Additional samples of the Grendel symbiote remained in the possession of the Weapon V Program, which was attacked by Carnage and shut down during his rampage; later restarted under Dr. Randall Pierce.
The offshoot that had bonded to Cletus was absorbed into the Venom symbiote by Eddie Brock, but resurfaced after a few weeks and attempted to take over him. When Eddie travelled to the Isla de Huesos to destroy it, it separated itself from him, assimilated the Venom symbiote, and attempted to take over Eddie - intending to use him to pick up where Cletus had left off. While the Dark Carnage symbiote was successful in taking over Eddie, Dylan Brock - the son of Eddie Brock, who had the power to control symbiotes - helped his father by transforming Venom into the form of a Tyrannosaurus rex. With Dylan's help, Eddie overcame the Dark Carnage symbiote's influence and separated from it, rebonding to the Venom symbiote. Although it was seemingly destroyed by Dylan, the Dark Carnage symbiote survived and left the island in the form of a shark. When Eddie killed Knull and became the new God of the Symbiotes, he sentenced Carnage to execution, with the Dark Carnage symbiote being devoured by symbiote-augmented sharks. Although a part of Carnage survived and managed to rebuild its biomass.
Iterations and Offshoots
At multiple points in time, samples/pieces of the Grendel has been removed and used to create offshoots.
- Tyrannosaurus and Sym-Soldiers - During the Vietnam War, S.H.I.E.L.D. excavated the body of an alien dragon made of living darkness, which they codenamed Grendel. As part of a series of clandestine supersoldier programs intended to replace the MIA Captain America, a team led by Nick Fury began experimenting on extracted samples of its biomass. Discovering that the samples could be bonded to lifeforms to create predatory monsters, S.H.I.E.L.D. immediately proceeded to human trials by bonding samples to a group of wounded soldiers. Due to their symbiotes still being connected to Knull's hive-mind, the Sym-Soldiers rampaged across Vietnam before eventually being subdued and put in stasis alongside the Grendel. One of the offshoots, codenamed Tyrannosaurus, escaped being captured and took on its host's appearance and personality. Decades later, Knull re-awakened the Grendel and reabsorbed the captured Sym-Soldiers' symbiotes into it; while the Tyrannosaurus symbiote ultimately sacrificed itself in an attempt to destroy the Grendel by dragging it into a smelting furnace.
- Weapon V Sym-Suits - After the Sym-Soldier Program was declared a failure by S.H.I.E.L.D. and officially shut down, Weapon Plus surreptitiously took over and rebranded the initiative as "Weapon V" or "Project Venom" - appropriating personnel, research, and symbiote samples while crediting Fury as the founder. Over the next few decades, Weapon V closely monitored subsequent U.S. Government-initiated offshoots of the Sym-Soldier Program such as Project Rebirth 2.0 and the Mercury Team, appropriating research and technology from them. Learning from their successes and failures, Weapon V determined that the Sym-Soldier prototypes had been corrupted by the symbiote hive-mind and were able to create lobotomized suits of bio-armor virally-altered to be free of the contamination. Dark Carnage decimated Weapon V's headquarters seeking to restore his symbiote's connection to the Hive-Mind by consuming the codices of as many hosts as possible, slaughtering the personnel and operatives. This led to Weapon V being put on hold and its symbiote samples being put into storage until the threat posed by Dark Carnage passed, Samples of Mars Team's Sym-Suits were obtained by Alchemax, which used them to mass-produce Anti-Venom battle-suits.
- Dark Carnage - Despite Tyrannosaurus' attempt to immolate it, a small piece of the Grendel survived and was obtained by the Maker before being stolen by the Cult of Knull. One of the high-ranking members of the cult, Scorn, bonded the remaining piece of the Grendel to Cletus Kasady's corpse in hopes that Knull would be able to use him as an avatar, reanimating the serial killer and causing him to take on an appearance similar to Venom and the Sym-Soldiers' berserk forms. After Knull's connection to the symbiote was severed, it assumed the appearance of the original Carnage symbiote, gaining a white spiral on its forehead and dragon emblem on its chest as its connection to the Hive-Mind grew stronger. When its full power was almost-fully restored, the Dark Carnage symbiote took on a demonic appearance - with horns, pauldrons, and arm-wraps resembling Knull's. After temporarily being assimilated by the Venom symbiote it lost the codices it had absorbed, afterwards being more-or-less identical to the original Carnage symbiote. Piloted by Cletus Kasady's codex, it bonded to a great white shark but was eventually torn apart and eaten by a horde of symbiotes controlled by Venom, who had killed Knull and become the new King in Black.
Powers and Abilities
Symbiote Physiology: As a symbiote-dragon the Grendel symbiote possessed deific powers owing to it having been directly created by Knull, making it vastly more powerful than lesser symbiotes. It was capable of interstellar flight, enabling it to annihilate entire civilizations across the universe.
- Superhuman Strength
- Superhuman Stamina
- Superhuman Durability
- Superhuman Speed, Agility, and Reflexes
- Accelerated Healing Factor
- Constituent-Matter Manipulation Like other Symbiotes, Grendel is capable of manifesting tendrils from its biomass, using them to attack prey.
Electricity: it is particularly vulnerable to high voltages of electricity - being incapacitated by Thor's divine lightning and Miles Morales' bioelectric Venom Blast, which caused it to temporarily destabilize and unravel into an amorphous mass.
Sonic and Heat: Like most symbiotes, the Grendel was vulnerable to heat and sound, though to a much lesser degree than most symbiotes. In its dragon form it was capable of withstanding incendiary missiles fired at it by the US army; and the Sym-Soldiers bonded to offshoots of the Grendel symbiote were capable of withstanding napalm flamethrowers, but were incapacitated by the explosion of Nick Fury's LMD during the Vietnam War. Venom was able to use sonic grenades to temporarily incapacitate it, and almost destroyed it using a steel-smelting blast furnace, which Eddie described as "feeling like touching the sun." Additionally, other symbiote-dragons were slain by the Silver Surfer conjuring stars within their bodies.
Grendel uses its fanged jaws, talons, wings, and tendrils as weapons.
Due to having manifesting a winged draconic shape, the Grendel and its ilk are capable of interstellar flight at hypersonic speeds.
- The Grendel is one of many symbiote-dragons created by Knull, though Donny Cates collectively refers to all of them as Grendels in his scripts and interviews.
- Although it is established by Knull that all symbiotes are vulnerable to heat and sound, Grendel was able to withstand missiles fired by the army.
- The Grendel in its draconic form and its fellow symbiote-dragons resemble the Black Berserkers created by Gorr using the All-Black symbiote, being hostless entities manifested from living abyss.
- Despite being referred as Grendel, the character has no similarities to the actual mythological Grendel. It seems that the character was confused with the Dragon, who is unrelated to Grendel and his mother.
- 8 appearance(s) of Grendel (Symbiote) (Earth-616)
- 9 minor appearance(s) of Grendel (Symbiote) (Earth-616)
- 11 mentions of Grendel (Symbiote) (Earth-616)
- 16 image(s) of Grendel (Symbiote) (Earth-616)