Knull was an ancient malevolent deity whose existence predates the universe itself, and was originally content to drift through the endless abyss that existed before time began. When the Celestials began creating the universe, Knull was awakened and retaliated by creating a sword of living darkness, the All-Black, from his newly-cast shadow; decapitating one of them. Cast back into the void by the other Celestials, Knull used the slain Celestial's severed head as a forge to temper his sword in its cosmic energies. Intent on devouring the divine light that had usurped his kingdom of darkness, Knull manifested a symbiotic suit of armour from the eldritch darkness he commanded and embarked on a genocide against the other gods,[9] becoming a legendary figure of terror for divine beings even billions of years later.[10]

Symbiote Imperium

Knull created an artificial planet from the living abyss to serve as his throneworld and base of operations, snuffing out stars and smothering entire planets in eldritch darkness. The few gods he spared were enslaved and transformed into monsters using the living abyss, placed as sentries to guard the worlds he'd conquered.[11][12] At some point during this stage of Knull's war against the Light, he encountered a time-displaced Silver Surfer when the former Herald of Galactus freed a world from Knull's control.[11] After a brief but intense fight, Knull defeated the Silver Surfer and bonded him to a symbiote to enslave him. However, the Silver Surfer was freed by Ego the Living Planet, who helped Radd escape when Knull pursued him on a symbiote-dragon.[8]

Knull was badly wounded in combat against an army of gold-armored gods and crash-landed on a desolate planet, where his symbiote-sword left him for one of the indigenous inhabitants, Gorr.[10] Despite this setback, Knull chose to not hunt the thief down and reclaim All-Black, though he remained aware of Gorr unwittingly following in his footsteps as the God Butcher.[9] After recovering from his injuries, Knull began experimenting with his powers and discovered he could create amorphous parasitic entities such as the symbiotes and Exolon out of the living abyss,[4] bonding them to lesser life forms in order to assemble an army. Over the course of several billion years, Knull and his army conquered countless planets and devoured entire civilizations.[13]

Knull's reign came to an end in the sixth century CE, when a dragon-like composite symbiote under his control arrived on Earth and was named the Grendel by the Geats. The symbiote-dragon's rampage was stopped by Thor, who blasted it with divine lightning and severed Knull's connection to the vast majority of symbiotes. As the symbiotes bonded to benevolent hosts, the hive-mind became tainted with notions of honor and nobility, leading to them rebelling against their god and imprisoning him at the heart of an artificial planet they called Klyntar - their word for "cage". Forming an order known as the Agents of the Cosmos, the symbiotes of Klyntar subsequently attempted to expunge their dark origins and redeem themselves by acting to protect the cosmos they'd once terrorized.[9][14]

While serving as a herald of Galactus, the Silver Surfer came across Klyntar and was devoured by it, its constituent symbiotes attempting to imprison him alongside Knull at the artificial planet's core.[8]

Modern Times

Centuries later, the Grendel symbiote-dragon was unearthed by S.H.I.E.L.D. and its living abyss was used to create a super-soldier initiative called the Sym-Soldier Program.[15] Slowly awakening due to the psychic link between himself and the Grendel symbiote-dragon, Knull began attempting to assert his influence over its offshoots, causing them to rampage and driving their hosts insane.[16][15] He also resurrected the newborn Cletus Kasady when he died of nuchal cord strangulation, marking him as an agent of the Void - a destiny also foretold in the Darkhold.[3] Decades later, Knull fully awakened and seized control of the symbiote-dragon, reabsorbing four of its five offshoots. Knull sent the Grendel symbiote-dragon on a rampage through downtown Manhattan, but it was stopped by the combined efforts of Venom - whose symbiote had been adversely affected by Knull's awakening - and Spider-Man.[17] Using the Grendel to manifest an avatar of his true form, Knull stripped the Venom symbiote from its host and attempted to purge it of the benevolence and compassion it had obtained during its time on Earth; intending to reconnect it to his hive mind and absorb it into the Grendel symbiote to become stronger.[1] When confronted by Eddie Brock, Knull showed him the true origins and history of the symbiotes; mocking him for believing the lies told to the Venom symbiote by the Klyntar hive-mind. Re-forming the Grendel around his avatar, Eddie, and Spider-Man; Knull flew into space and revealed his plan to obtain the missing pieces of the symbiote-dragon, use it to free his true body from Klyntar, and resume his conquest of the universe - starting with Earth.[9]

Venom escaped with help from Spider-Man, but Knull chose not to pursue them and instead began hunting for the Tyrannosaurus symbiote - the last remaining piece of the Grendel symbiote. When the Tyrannosaurus symbiote bonded to Venom and reconnected to the Hive Mind, Knull attacked using the Grendel symbiote and attempted to devour Venom. When the Grendel was destabilized by sonic grenades, Knull's manifestation engaged Venom in a brutal one-on-one battle, Venom's arsenal of high-tech weapons proving ineffective. Knull stripped Eddie of both symbiotes and began absorbing them, but his gloating was cut short when Eddie detonated the entire arsenal - the blast affecting even Knull's real body at the core of Klyntar. Shaken and enraged, Knull coated his manifestation in the Grendel symbiote, but before he could attack the Tyrannosaurus symbiote coiled around his avatar and dragged it into the heart of a blast furnace - telling Venom to hold the door shut. Knull's avatar was subsequently immolated, his connection to the Grendel symbiote seemingly severed and his body remaining sealed at the heart of Klyntar.[5]

A few months after the battle, an Earth-based cult dedicated to worshipping Knull - led by Scorn - obtained a sample of the Grendel symbiote and Cletus Kasady's body, intending to turn him into Knull's avatar and facilitate his awakening. When the sample of Grendel symbiote was bonded to Cletus, Knull psychically communicated with the serial killer and attempted to seize control of him through the symbiote; though the nature of their conversation is unknown. Cletus resisted Knull's control and their connection was severed when the Grendel symbiote absorbed the codex - trace remnants of living abyss left in former symbiote hosts - that the Carnage symbiote had left in Scorn's body. Cletus desired to communicate with Knull again and decided to help free him by collecting enough codexes to reconnect the Grendel symbiote to the Hive Mind.[3] As his connection to his self-proclaimed apostle grew stronger, Knull began corrupting the other symbiotes stranded on Earth -- beginning with the Riot, Agony, Phage, Lasher, and Scream symbiotes.[18][19]

An ancient malevolent deity, Knull despises the Celestials and their creations, attempting to carry out a genocide against them. Revelling in bloodshed and destruction, Knull often sported a predatory grin when engaged in combat and fondly reminisced about the devastation he and All-Black wrought together. He is also arrogant and sadistic - regarding his conquest of the universe as being inevitable, mocking the Silver Surfer's attempt to fight him or escape as futile, and relishing the prospect of hunting the fleeing Surfer down and killing him.[8]

Through his symbiote army, Knull is responsible for the destruction and corruption of entire civilizations across the universe. When not engaged in combat, Knull appeared calm and condescending, only smiling in a sadistic fashion at the sight of Venom's berserk form, calling it beautiful and reacting with outrage when Eddie tried to stop him from re-corrupting the Venom symbiote.[1] Knull was begrudgingly impressed by Eddie's determination to understand the eldritch truth behind the symbiotes' origins, but mocked him for being deceived by the Klyntar hive-mind. He considers the symbiotes who rebelled against and imprisoned him to be cowards, liars, and traitors; sneering at their desperate efforts to cover up their dark origins and keep themselves from relapsing. Despite his loathing respect for them - seeing them as his wayward children - he also actually hates the Klyntar symbiotes for betraying him and intends to forcibly absorb them all back into his dark hive-mind.[9]


Divine Physiology: A primordial god of darkness, Knull possesses superhuman attributes and powers far exceeding those of humans and even most other deities. As the creator of All-Black the Necrosword, he likely possesses the same powers it bestows upon its hosts but to a greater extent.[10][9][8]

Supreme Umbrakinesis: Knull possesses the ability to create, control, and manipulate a fount of eldritch darkness—a manifestation of the primordial void that existed before the universe itself—that he calls the "living abyss".[9]

  • Symbiote Creation: Knull manifested the first symbiote from his shadow in order to kill a Celestial, and formed a suit of symbiote-armor when embarking on his deicidal crusade.[9] At some point, Knull constructed an artificial planet from the living abyss and possessed absolute control over it, being able to freely reshape it at will and manifest individual symbiotes and symbiote-dragons from it.[20] While he initially only infected gods and other cosmic beings with the living abyss;[17] when stranded on a desolate world he discovered he could also infect "lesser creatures" with the living abyss, creating an army of symbiotes to conquer the universe.[9] He also created the Exolon, soul-eating parasites similar to the symbiotes.[4]
  • Symbiote Domination: As the divine progenitor of the symbiotes and the nexus of their hive-mind, Knull is able to mentally influence and dominate symbiotes even while sealed away;[9] driving them insane with bloodlust and hunger.[17] He is capable of indwelling them, enabling him to see through their eyes and directly control them; and can manipulate their biomasses even when not in direct contact with them, as demonstrated when he used an ancient dragon-like symbiote to attack Earth and manifest an avatar of his true form.[1] Symbiotes infected by Knull's will have red spirals in place of their eyespots, and are more powerful than symbiotes disconnected from his dark hive-mind; sometimes even gaining new powers and abilities as a result of the connection.[2][21][22]

Superhuman Strength: Knull is strong enough to decapitate a Celestial with a single blow, and singlehandedly slaughtered entire armies of gods -- though it is possible that this immense strength is at least in part due to him wielding All-Black the Necrosword, and later his symbiote-armor.[9] Knull was able to easily manhandle the Silver Surfer - albeit after Norrin had exhausted the majority of his Power Cosmic.[11] The avatar that Knull created using the Grendel symbiote possessed only a fraction of his true power, but was nevertheless able to easily overpower Venom despite Eddie Brock being bonded to both the Venom and Tyrannosaurus symbiotes.[23]

Superhuman Durability: Knull is durable enough to survive being blasted by Celestials; and was unharmed by a plunge from space through the atmosphere of a planet while engaged in combat with another deity, though he was left unconscious after being stabbed through the head.[10] While Silver Surfer's Power Cosmic was able to make Knull bleed and being blasted by Ego's psionic beams caused him pain, he was not severely injured by either.[8]

Dark Energy Manipulation: Knull was capable of conjuring fiery purple energy; wreathing himself and All-Black in an aura of it, firing it from his hands in a beam powerful enough to incapacitate the Silver Surfer, or firing it as flak and homing projectiles from artillery constructs manifested from the Symbiote Throneworld.[8]

Amortality: Knull has existed for at least 13.7 billion years, having come into existence prior to the beginning of the universe itself - before the genesis of such concepts as life and death - and as such is unable to be truly killed.[24][25] However, he can be injured to the point of incapacitation: after being impaled through the head and falling from space to the surface of a planet, he required centuries to fully heal from his injuries.[9]

Self-Sustenance: Knull is capable of surviving in the vacuum of space unaided, and does not appear to need food, water, or sleep to survive.[9]

Shapeshifting: Knull is capable of transforming his mouth into a fanged maw with a prehensile serpentine tongue, a trait he passed down to the symbiotes.[1]

Regenerative Healing Factor: Despite his immense durability, Knull is capable of being injured to the point of incapacitation.[10] However, he is able to not only survive injuries that would kill other gods, but rapidly recover from them.[9]


Expert Combatant: Despite not possessing any formal training, Knull is a vicious warrior with billions of years' worth of combat experience, capable of slaughtering entire armies of gods singlehandedly.[9]


The Light: Despite his immense durability, Knull is particularly vulnerable to a force he refers to as "the Light", which came into being with the Big Bang and was first spread through the Abyss by the Celestials. "The Light" refers not only to the literal light of stars and other celestial objects, but to the various powers wielded by cosmic entities and deities - which when used offensively could cause him pain and even make him bleed; concepts such as honor, benevolence, compassion, and nobility - which disrupted his control of the symbiotes and caused them to turn on him; and life itself.[9][8] Knull sought to destroy and corrupt the Light using his army of symbiotes, but his control over them was severed when the symbiote-dragon he was indwelling was blasted by Thor's divine lightning. Centuries later, his avatar was temporarily destabilized by the totemic avatar Miles Morales' bioelectric Venom Blast,[13] and by sonic and energy grenades.[5]



  • According to Donny Cates, Silver Surfer: Black takes place before Knull lost All-Black. However, during his battle against the Silver Surfer, Knull summoned his symbiotes to aid him, which contradicts elements of his story, since Knull created the symbiotes after losing All-Black.
  • Knull's spiral emblem is based on the Spiral of Carcosa from True Detective, and is a reference to the Cthulhu Mythos.[26] Similarly, his title of the "King in Black" is a reference to Hastur, the King in Yellow, ruler of Carcosa.
  • According to Donny Cates, Knull was the first "something" in the universe,[27] indicating that he predates all but a few other deities and cosmic entities. It is unclear if he is the first being in the seventh universe or if he predates the First Firmament.
  • When asked what Knull would have done had he encountered Carnage or one of Venom's other offspring, Ryan Stegman replied that he would have "either [tried] to hurt them or re-consume them and bring them back to Klyntar."[28]
  • Several beings have - deliberately or unintentionally - emulated Knull:
    • Almost all of the Nameless Kree infected by the Exolon develop a physical resemblance to Knull -- possessing pale skin, long white hair, and an emaciated physique.[29]
    • Gorr,[10] Old Galactus,[30] and Ego the Living Planet[31] were manipulated by the All-Black symbiote into continuing Knull's crusade to annihilate all of existence.
    • King Loki deliberately claimed the All-Black symbiote for himself with the intention of following in Knull's footsteps and destroying what was left of the universe, starting with his brother Thor.[32][33]
    • When Spider-Man bonded to the symbiote, it formed a spider logo, which Spider-Man assumed was inspired by Spider-Woman's costume.[34] In reality, the symbiote unconsciously formed the white spider logo out of Knull's red dragon emblem.[35]
    • Malekith the Accursed learned of Knull by reading the mind of the Venom symbiote, and sought to turn it into his own version of All-Black; wielding it as a dagger and sword during the War of the Realms.[36]
  • When asked if King Thanos had managed to kill Knull in the future where he succeeded in killing everything, Donny Cates stated that he hadn't due to Knull being unkillable.[25]

Discover and Discuss


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Venom Vol 4 #3
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Venom Vol 4 #5
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Web of Venom: Carnage Born #1
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 5 #3
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Venom Vol 4 #6
  6. Venom Vol 4 #1
  7. King Thor #1
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 Silver Surfer: Black #2
  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11 9.12 9.13 9.14 9.15 9.16 9.17 9.18 9.19 Venom Vol 4 #4
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 Thor: God of Thunder #6
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Silver Surfer: Black #1
  12. Cates, Donny (25 June 2019). DONNY CATES on Twitter: "No yeah, that’s the necrosword. Why wouldn’t it be?". Twitter. Retrieved on 25 June 2019.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Venom Vol 4 #2-4
  14. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 #23
  15. 15.0 15.1 Web of Venom: Ve'Nam #1
  16. Venom Vol 3 #3
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Venom Vol 4 #1-2
  18. Absolute Carnage: Separation Anxiety #1
  19. Absolute Carnage: Scream #1
  20. Silver Surfer #2
  21. Cates, Donny (20 March 2019). DONNY CATES on Twitter: "New powers from contact with Knull.". Twitter. Retrieved on 26 July 2019.
  22. Griffin Sheridan, Ryan Stegman (29 June 2019). VENOM BOIZ! w/Donny Cates: Venom #1 Q and A. PodBean. Retrieved on 2 July 2019.
  23. Cates, Donny (19 June 2019). DONNY CATES on Twitter: "Haha. Yeah! WAY more powerful. Dude severed the head of a celestial. Knull is no joke.". Twitter. Retrieved on 20 June 2019.
  24. Venom Vol 4 #10
  25. 25.0 25.1 Cates, Donny (21 April 2019). DONNY CATES on Twitter: "Nothing can kill Knull. #GodIsComing". Twitter. Retrieved on 22 April 2019.
  26. Griffin Sheridan, Ryan Stegman (22 June 2019). VENOM BOIZ! w/Donny Cates: Venom (2018) #1 Director’s Commentary. PodBean. Retrieved on 26 June 2019.
  27. Cates, Donny (1 June 2019). DONNY CATES on Twitter:"No. He was the first something.". Twitter. Retrieved on 1 June 2019.
  28. Marvel Entertainment on Twitter: "Longtime "Venom" penciler @RyanStegman joins Marvel's #ThePullList podcast host @AgentM to answer reader questions about the one and only Venom! Watch:". Twitter (28 September 2018). Retrieved on 3 October 2018.
  29. Annihilation: Conquest - Wraith #2
  30. Thor: God of Thunder #24
  31. Mighty Thor #700
  32. Thor Vol 5 #6
  33. Thor Vol 5 #12
  34. Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #8
  35. Domiguez, Noah (4 January 2019). Venom Writer Confirms Origin of Venom's Iconic White Spider Symbol. Retrieved on 4 September 2019.
  36. War of the Realms #3-4

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