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.
Carnage's appearances in various media:Notable Mainstream Comic Appearances:
- 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: 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
- 101 Ways to End the Clone Saga
- Exiles (as Spider)
- Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe: Again
- Marvel 1602 (as Canice Cassidy)
- Secret Wars (2015)
- Spider-Boy (as Bizarnage)
- Spider-Man and Batman
- Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds
- Ultimate Spider-Man (as Gwen Stacy)
- What If?
- Carnage In New York
- Goblin's Revenge
- Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark: Carnage was an OsCorp employee mutated by the Green Goblin, and made a member of his Sinister Six.
Theme Park Attractions
- Maximum Carnage / Island Under Siege: A haunted house and scarezone featuring Carnage as the main character that was at Universal's Halloween Horror Nights in 2002.
- Maximum Carnage
- Separation Anxiety: Despite having nothing to do with the comic arc, he appears as the game's True Final Boss.
- Spider-Man: Carnage is fought as game's final boss; the symbiote then bonds to Doctor Octopus to become the unfightable Monster-Ock
- Ultimate Spider-Man: Peter Parker is turned into the Ultimate version of Carnage during Venom's final boss fight
- Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2: Carnage was available as DLC from November 5, 2009 to December 31, 2009, and from July 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010. Ultimate Carnage was unlockable as an alternate costume. The DLC for him and the other characters was later brought back in 2016 for the game's PS4 and Xbox One-exclusive rerelease.
- Spider-Man: Web of Shadows: Spider-Carnage is an unlockable alternate costume for Symbiote Spider-Man
- Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions: The Ultimate version of Carnage appears as a boss.
- The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Cletus Kasady is a reoccurring antagonist, and becomes Carnage during the final boss fight; Spider-Carnage is an unlockable costume
- LEGO Marvel Superheroes
- Marvel: Avengers Alliance: Carnage appears as a boss.
- Marvel Heroes: Carnage (during his hero phase) is an assist character.
- Spider-Man Unlimited: Carnage and Spider-Carnage were added as part of a Symbiote event, with the Venomverse Carnage being added in the Venomverse event.
- Marvel Future Fight: Carnage is a playable character.
Tropes applying to Carnage:
- 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: And that's putting it lightly.
- 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.
- 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: Being exposed to the eldritch power of the Darkhold has 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- HeelFace 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.
- The Reptilians: With its gaping mouth, pointy teeth, and flailing tongue, his face, like Venom's, invokes this trope and plays it for all its worth.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.