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Comic Book / Carnage

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"But isn't that what you want to hear, Doctor? That I was a poor, abused child? That my mother beat me? My father molested me? That I was tortured and hung by my ankles above a pit of broken glass? Well, maybe that's all true. Or maybe... I'm just the inevitable aberration. The soul that's born so black, so twisted, so filled with unreasoning hatred... that there's no explanation. You can't make me sane, Doctor. You can't hope to redeem me. All you can do is kill me. Because, if you don't—I'll break out of here. You have my word on that. And the blood—the glorious blood—will flow like wine!"

In the early 1990's, Venom's skyrocketing popularity as an antihero derailed co-creator David Michelinie's plan to kill Eddie Brock off and have the symbiote jump from host to host. Feeling Marvel had lost one of its most terrifying villains as a result of Venom's transition into the Lethal Protector, Michelinie decided to create a new symbiotic super villain, one with no redeeming features whatsoever. Erik Larsen came up with Cletus Kasady, inspired by Batman's The Joker, and Mark Bagley designed a red and black symbiote intended to emphasize the new villain's nature as a chaos-obsessed psychopath. Carnage debuted in 1991, when the Venom symbiote's newborn offspring bonded to serial killer Kasady. Carnage's defining storyline was the Maximum Carnage crossover, where he recruited several supervillains and declared war on New York, forcing Spider-Man to form his own alliance of superheroes and anti-heroes to combat him.


Since then, Carnage has become one of Spider-Man's most (in)famous villains, appearing infrequently in the comics before seemingly being killed off after Mac Gargan became a more monstrous version of Venom. After Flash Thompson became a heroic Venom, Carnage was brought back in 2011, and has starred in a number of his own miniseries since then. His popularity and role as a humanizing agent for Venom has led to his appearance in several video games and animated series.

Click here for the other Marvel Comics symbiotes.


Carnage's appearances in various media:

Notable Mainstream Comic Appearances:

  • Carnage:
    • Carnage: Mind Bomb
    • Carnage: It's a Wonderful Life
    • Carnage Volume 1 #1-5
    • Carnage, U.S.A. #1-5
    • Minimum Carnage: Alpha and Omega
    • Superior Carnage #1-5 and Superior Carnage Annual
    • Deadpool vs. Carnage #1-4
    • Carnage (2015) Volume 2 #1-16
    • Absolute Carnage
    • Carnage: Black, White, and Blood #1-4
    • Extreme Carnage
  • Spider-Man:
    • The Amazing Spider-Man #344-345
    • The Amazing Spider-Man #359-363
    • Maximum Carnagenote 
    • The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #28
    • The Clone Saga
      • The Amazing Spider-Man #403
      • Planet of the Symbiotesnote 
      • Web of Carnagenote 
    • The Amazing Spider-Man #430-431
    • Peter Parker: Spider-Man Vol. 2, #10 and #13
    • Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man #13-14
    • X-Men/Spider-Man #3
    • Marvel Knights: Spider-Man Vol. 2, #3
  • Venom:
    • Venom: Carnage Unleashed #1-4
    • Venom: On Trial #1-3
    • Venom vs. Carnage #1-4
    • Venom Vol. 2, #26-27
  • Web of Venom
    • Carnage Born #1
    • Cult of Carnage #1
    • Funeral Pyre #1
  • Other:

Alternate Comics




Theme Park Attractions

Video Games

Western Animation

Carnage provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Maximum Carnage ends with an unhinged (well, more than usual) Carnage digging up and attempting to run away with his mother's casket. After he's beaten, the coffin is shown to be empty. This reveal has a vaguely sinister air to it, but nothing ever came of it and no explanation was ever given for why the casket was empty.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Carnage suffers a similar issue that Venom often undergoes, depending on the artist drawing him. Despite the fact an entire human head is supposed to be inside the symbiote's head, the mouth's position often indicates there is empty space there. Ideally, the host's chin SHOULD be inside the upper jaw but the art doesn't tend to observe this, drawing his head a bit too small for that.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: The Mind Bomb comic suggests that a simple overdose of Vitamin C affects the symbiotic bond because it severely alters brain chemistry. In reality, at best it might give him some light nausea or an upset stomach, it doesn't affect brain chemistry! The writer could've handwaved this by saying that Vitamin C affected the symbiote itself, or by saying it was some chemical mixture, but no, they specifically state that it affected brain chemistry of the host.
  • Arch-Enemy: Carnage is Venom's and Toxin's arch-nemesis: no matter how many villains Venom fights, Carnage will always be the one villain Venom hates the most. Carnage himself also has considerable grudges against Spider-Man and Deadpool.
  • Ax-Crazy: Carnage is a nihilistic and murderously violent sociopath who believes that law and order are meaningless in the face of chaos, and his associates Shriek and Doppelganger aren't much better.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: He's technically Venom's "son", the result of the Venom symbiote asexually reproducing itself.
  • Big Bad: Carnage is the chief antagonist of several of Spider-Man's and Venom's - both Eddie Brock and Flash Thompson - stories, as well as a number of his own.
  • Body Horror: When bonded to a host, the Carnage symbiote sometimes resembles a flayed human body.
  • Breakout Villain: Carnage was meant to replace Venom, but got so popular that they're both recurring mainstays.
  • Calling Card: Left gruesome ones in his first appearance: the words "Carnage Rules!" scrawled on the wall of the crime scene in his victim's blood. Since he didn't have access to a victim for his "paint" when Spider-Man first confronted him, he decided to use his own instead.
  • Chaos Is Evil: Cletus is hailed as an anarchist because he seeks to bring chaos to the world.
  • Creepy Long Fingers: Carnage's fingers are almost always shaped into long, sharp claws.
  • Depending on the Artist: Whether Carnage is red and black or just plain red, and whether he has a Jagged Mouth or discernible teeth, depends on who's drawing him.
  • Depending on the Writer:
    • As with Venom, how vulnerable the Carnage symbiote is to fire and sonics seems to depend on who's writing. The general consensus has been that it's the more flammable of the two, and has developed an increased resistance to sound, but this also depends on who's writing.
    • Beginning with the Carnage Vol. 1 series, Cletus was given a Southern hillbilly accent and a love of the Confederate flag and Lynyrd Skynyrd, while earlier stories pinned him as a native New Yorker of implied Scottish-Irish heritage and no trace of a Southern attitude or heritage.
    • After Sentry ripped him in half, whether he regenerated his legs or he still has his robotic ones. In either case, you can't really tell when he's suited up.
  • Design Preservation Villain: Carnage was created mainly because David Michelinie thought it would be a waste to have Venom, one of Spider-Man's most visually impressive villains, no longer antagonize him.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: During Axis, Carnage took a reporter named Alice Gleason to teach him how to be a hero. He assumed Alice was a good woman with a strong moral compass, unaware she was just trying to achieve more viewers with an act. Carnage started seeing Alice as an angel and even started having a romantic interest in her. However, at the end she turns on him and has the police fire on him. Carnage has a brief Imagine Spot about marrying Alice and having a family with her, and assumes that this is a lesson about how if he got the girl he'd put her and their family in danger. So he leaves.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Like all symbiotes, the Carnage symbiote is a creature of living abyss — though what sets it apart from other symbiotes aside from Grendel's Mother is that it's mixed with its host's blood. Being exposed to the eldritch power of the Darkhold augmented and altered Cletus's symbiote, making it immune to its former weaknesses but giving it a vulnerability to certain forms of magic.
  • Enemy Mine: When Carnage was first introduced, his presence was one of the few things that would allow Venom to — temporarily — put his hatred of Spider-Man aside and work with the wall-crawler to stop him. Later appearances of Carnage had other characters become willing to work with Venom only if it meant stopping Carnage.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Cletus really doesn't like it when people illegally park in handicap spaces.
    • For a rather literal version of this, this is why his team-up with The Joker didn't last more than a few pages in Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds. Kasady didn't care for the Joker's theatrics and the Joker found Kasady's lack of flair boring.
  • Evil Counterpart: Venom (Eddie Brock) states he seems him as his in Maximum Carnage. Depending on the host, it can be more something like ''Eviler'' Counterpart. (Mostly with Mac Gargan and Lee Price) And yes, it could be said that he is indeed ultimately an evil counterpart to a character who is himself formerly an evil counterpart. (Venom to Spider-Man)
    Venom: You're doomed, Carnage! I'm older, wiser, more experienced!
    Carnage: Yeah... but I'm nastier!
  • Expy: Cletus Kasady, pre-Symbiote, is one of the Joker, right down to his character design being a recolor of the white-skinned, green-haired Batman villain, and his characterization basically being Joker's turned Up to Eleven after getting superpowers.
  • For the Evulz: His motivation for wreaking havoc is simply because he can.
  • Genre Throwback: His post-Secret Wars series is one to the Marvel horror books that Gerry Conway wrote back in the 1970's, such as The Tomb of Dracula and Werewolf by Night.
  • Godhood Seeker: While he's usually a nihilistic serial killer whose only goal is to cause as much death as possible, Carnage has on three separate occasions sought to apotheosize into a god of chaos and death — first by absorbing the Enigma Force in Minimum Carnage, then by freeing Chthon in Carnage Vol. 2, and finally by empowering the Dark Carnage symbiote and freeing Knull in Absolute Carnage.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Was flown into space and torn in half by the Sentry in the opening arc of New Avengers. He later got better.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Briefly, like the other villains from the AXIS event. However, it's especially jarring in his case as Carnage is a psychotic serial killer who has murdered thousands with glee. When the reversal is undone, Carnage goes after the second Nova, Sam Alexander, because he was one of the few people who interacted with Carnage in a purely heroic fashion, and Carnage can't stand knowing that there's someone out there who has seen a part of him that wasn't a monster.
  • Hero with an F in Good: When he gets inverted in AXIS, Carnage tries to be a hero. The problem is that he doesn't know how to do anything heroic and has to get an ordinary woman he took hostage to teach him.
  • Invincible Villain: A major problem with the character during his early days was that he quickly degenerated into this, especially during Maximum Carnage, where he simply got back up again no matter what the heroes threw against him, and the inconsistent writing didnt help.
  • Lean and Mean: Depending on the Writer, but he is typically despicted as skinnier than the bulky, muscular Venom, and much, much worse.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: Carnage can grow Combat Tentacles at will, and has the ability to consume biomass from its victims.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Carnage, not that Cletus Kasady is much better.
  • Practically Joker: He was explicitly stated to be inspired by The Joker — though Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds proved that Carnage's methods have nothing in common with the Clown Prince's, and they end up hating each other, because Carnage wants to be Ax-Crazy while Joker has Complexity Addiction.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: His symbiote is red and black, and he's most definitively evil.
  • Replacement Flat Character: He was created as this; Since by this point Eddie Brock had developed into an Anti-Hero Noble Demon, Carnage was made to fill his former place as the creepy symbiote villain.
  • Reset Button: Web of Venom: Carnage Born promises to bring back Cletus Kasady as Carnage less than a year after he was transformed into Poison Carnage during Venomized; and rather than play with this new version of the character — who was specifically stated to be one of the two known surviving Poisons — Marvel's opted to immediately revert him back to the status quo.
  • Retcon: The time Venom ate the Carnage symbiote and Cletus obtained an identical symbiote from the Negative Zone has been completely disregarded by writers since it occurred, with the symbiote he had up until Carnage Vol. 2 being repeatedly stated to be the same one the Venom symbiote spawned.
  • Sadist: His sole mission in life is to go on ultraviolent killing sprees. He thinks the world is dull and uninteresting but can be made more colorful by spraying the streets red with blood.
  • Series Continuity Error: Despite Cletus' prosthetic legs being destroyed in Carnage #5, and him being shown with flesh-and-blood legs in the Superior Carnage and Deadpool vs. Carnage miniseries, he inexplicably has robotic legs again in Nova Vol. 5.
  • Serial Killer: Cletus is a diagnosed sociopath who was serving time for 11 consecutive life sentences because he killed so many people... and that was before Kasady acquired a symbiote. By the way, the 11 life sentences were for murders that they knew about. Kasady bragged about a dozen more.
  • Shapeshifter Weapon: A large part of Carnage's combat schtick. The symbiote is particularly fond of forming scythes, axes, and shiv-like weapons, reflecting Cletus's brutal personality and prison experience.
  • The Sociopath: Cletus Kasady is a nihilistic, chaos-worshipping serial killer who feels absolutely no empathy for any living creature, on top of being extremely insane and a diagnosed psychopath who takes delight in murder. The 2011 "Carnage", 2012 "Carnage USA", and 2013 "Superior Carnage" story arcs revealed that the symbiote he's bonded with is even worse, but appears to have a soft spot for its host as it kept Kasady alive after the Sentry ripped him in half and left him in space, and goes to extreme lengths to get him back when they're separated.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Cletus Kasady is an impulsive crazed serial killer of limited education, a stereotypical southern hick, and a metalhead with few cultural interests. As such, any time he does take up the role of Big Bad, the heroes tend to be caught off-guard by his quick-witted and sometimes downright analytical opproach. This becomes especially apparent in Absolute Carnage , where Cletus masterminds an operation that could be deemed global or even universal in its scale and wages war against the heroes on a dozen different fronts, culminating in him using a Batman Gambit that allows him to reach his objective regardless of the choice the heroes make. The story even takes the time to contrast Cletus with Norman Osborn — who has been brainwashed into believing he is Cletus Kasady as well, and behaves a lot like Cletus' usual impulsive self — and shows how different Cletus can play the game if he really wanted to.
  • Spiritual Successor: According to Gerry Conway, the 2016 Carnage series was conceived as "The Tomb of Dracula with Carnage as Dracula." The series has the same basic narrative setup as Tomb of Dracula, with the story heavily focusing on the group of protagonists traveling across the globe to stop the villain.
  • Straw Nihilist: He thinks the very idea that "murder is wrong" is just The Man keeping you down, and that cowardice and weakness are the only reasons everyone else isn't killing too.
  • Viler New Villain: Typically serves this role to Venom whenever he's a villain, being a psychopath without any reason for what he does.
  • Villain Protagonist: Carnage has been the protagonist of Superior Carnage Annual, AXIS: Carnage, and Carnage Vol. 2; the latter of which was an intentional throwback to The Tomb of Dracula.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Burn down an orphanage, defenestrate a baby, infect kids with his symbiote, slaughter an entire family in a name it, he does it.


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