- Height: 6'1"
- Weight: 190 lbs
- Eyes: Green
- Hair: Red
According to his introduction in the trade paperback book Spider-Man: Carnage (which reprints Amazing Spider-Man #361-363), David Michelinie created Carnage to be a darker version of Venom. Michelinie intended to have Venom's human alter ego, Eddie Brock, be killed off in Amazing Spider-Man #400 (which he ended up not writing) and have the symbiote continue to bond with a series of hosts. However, as Brock and Venom's popularity grew, Marvel would not allow him to be killed. Thus, Michelinie decided that if he couldn't bond the existing symbiote with a different host, he should instead create a whole new one. He thought of making this new character a total psychopath who unlike Venom had no sense of honor. The character was originally meant to be named "Chaos" and then "Ravage" before being settled on "Carnage." Carnage's human component, Cletus Kasady was designed by Erik Larsen and was modeled on the Joker. Mark Bagley designed Carnage in symbiotic form.
Cletus Kasady was introduced in Amazing #344. He didn't appear as Carnage until a small cameo in Amazing #360 (the character appears in issue #359, but remains off-panel and in shadows) and, finally, Carnage made his first full appearance in the following issue which started a 3-issue story arc with him as the villain. Carnage's first appearances sold out and he became a fan favorite. Carnage next appeared in what is considered to be his most famous story, the 1993 Spider-Man event " Maximum Carnage," a 14-part storyline crossover that spanned through all the Spider-titles. While highly popular, some fans contend that the storyline dragged on for too long and was nothing but a complete gore-fest with little value story-wise.
In 1996, two one-shot comics centered entirely around Carnage were released, entitled Carnage: Mind Bomb and Carnage: It's A Wonderful Life, both of which expand on his character.
Cletus Kasady was born in Brooklyn, New York. He claims his mother tried to kill him after she caught him torturing her dog. She was apparently beaten to death by Kasady's father, who received no defense from his son during his trial. Kasady seems to care for his mother, digging up her grave in Maximum Carnage, contradicting his prior account in which he took glee in her death. He also claims he killed his grandmother when he was a child, pushing her down a flight of stairs.
Now an orphan, Kasady is sent to the St. Estes Home for Boys, where his antisocial behavior makes him the target of abuse from both the other orphans and the staff. Kasady vindicates himself by murdering the disciplinarian administrator and burning down the orphanage. During the events of Carnage: It's A Wonderful Life, images from his own memories play of a failed relationship with an unnamed girl during his teen years. At one time he befriended a boy named Billy Bentine but they drifted apart as Kasady started his career as a serial killer. By his early twenties, he has been convicted of 11 murders, although he brags about committing dozens more. He eventually shares a cell with Eddie Brock at Ryker's Island prison, awaiting trial for crimes committed as Venom and who had just recently lost his Venom symbiote after a battle against Styx.
When Brock's symbiote returns and bonds with him to form the entity known as Venom, the supervillain unwittingly leaves behind a symbiote spawn, which bonds with Kasady, allowing him to transform into the red and black monster called Carnage. One night, Kasady murders a guard and escapes prison, beginning a series of gruesome and seemingly random murders. At the scene of each crime, he writes "Carnage Rules" on the walls with his own blood. He is found by Spider-Man, though the hero proves to be no match for Carnage's powers. Carnage then abducts J. Jonah Jameson. In desperation, Spider-Man makes what is, despite his expectations, only the first of many truces with Venom to fight Carnage. Carnage is defeated with sonic weaponry, but the symbiote lives on by merging with Kasady's bloodstream.
In the Maximum Carnage story arc, Carnage returns and recruits a army of psychotic super-villains (including Shriek, Demogoblin, Carrion, and Doppelganger) to overtake New York City, but are driven back by Spider-Man, Venom, Captain America, Black Cat, Nightwatch, Cloak and Dagger, Iron Fist, Deathlok, Morbius, and Firestar.
Despite his defeat and imprisonment, Carnage escapes again and goes against his trend of randomness by actually selecting a specific victim; his old childhood friend Billy Bentine. Spider-Man, this time alone, interferes and battles Carnage. Bentine helps Spider-Man defeat the madman by tricking Kasady into retracting his symbiote into his body, allowing Spider-Man to easily knockout the human Kasady with a simple punch.
Kasady, albeit having a stronger bond to his symbiote than Eddie Brock does, has been separated from and re-bonded with the symbiote several times as the symbiote looks for stronger hosts. In the 1996 "Web of Carnage" storyline, the Carnage symbiote escapes from the Ravencroft Institute where Cletus Kasady is incarcerated, seeking a stronger host. It takes over Ben Reilly, who had recently replaced Peter Parker as Spider-Man. Reilly has little previous experience with symbiotes, and is unprepared for an enemy that is immune to his spider-sense. Together, they become Spider-Carnage, and the symbiote attempts to force him, both mentally and physically, to kill a powerless Peter Parker along with other innocent people. Reilly barely escapes the symbiote's control with help from Dr. Ashley Kafka and John Jameson, the administrators of Ravencroft.
The symbiote later bonds with the Silver Surfer (who had dropped into Earth to welcome the Fantastic Four back from the Heroes Reborn universe and seen the fight), which created the insane and vastly powerful Cosmic Carnage. In the process, it was revealed that the symbiotes have an instinctive knowledge of the Heralds of Galactus, with the Carnage symbiote initially terrified of the Surfer upon arrival. However, the Surfer and Spider-Man manage to return the symbiote to Kasady, who is subsequently encased by the Silver Surfer in an unbreakable material to spend the rest of his life reflecting on his sins.
However, the material is clearly not as 'unbreakable' as the Surfer believes; when next seen, Kasady has somehow escaped from the material, although he is trapped in a cell specifically designed to contain him and stop him transforming into Carnage. Venom later locates Kasady in prison and re-absorbs his Carnage symbiote into his own body "for good". Without the symbiote, Kasady retains the Carnage persona by costuming himself in red paint and continuing his killing sprees, but does so as a normal human, only for Spider-Man to easily defeat him in a fight (he claimed to still possess some of the symbiote's strength, but if he did, it was clearly not enough to allow him to win in a fight with Spider-Man).
Soon, however, Kasady finds an exact replica of the symbiote in the Negative Zone. How this symbiote is an identical copy, or where it came from, has yet to be explained. However, the issues in which Kasady discovered the replica had references to the Spider-Man Unlimited TV series which had been airing at the time and which featured the Carnage symbiote as one of its villains. In this same issue, Spider-Man himself briefly takes on the costume of the Spider-Man from Unlimited. Somewhere down the line, Cletus got his original symbiote back. It is not explained how he got it back or what happened to the one from the Negative Zone.
Spawning and apparent death
Carnage stars in the miniseries Venom vs. Carnage in 2004. The Carnage symbiote spawns a "child" symbiote, which he tries to kill without success, acting on the symbiote race's instinctive hatred for their immediate offspring. The "child" later bonds with police officer Patrick Mulligan. Carnage feels nothing but hatred for the young creature and attempts to kill it, while Venom defends it. Venom names the new symbiote Toxin. Mulligan has since attempted to steer his symbiote towards heroism instead of murder.
Carnage is one of several supervillains trying to escape from The Raft in New Avengers #1-2. Although Luke Cag e, Matt Murdock, and Jessica Drew manage to keep him contained in the lower levels, it is the Sentry who finishes him off, flying Carnage outside the Earth's atmosphere and ripping him apart. He has not appeared since. According to Iron Man's computer, Kasady may not have been inside the symbiote when the Sentry ripped it apart. He later returns in 2011.
Powers and abilities
The alien symbiote endows Cletus Kasady with enhanced reflexes, stamina, durability and strength (greater than that of Spider-Man and Venom combined). At first the Carnage symbiote's bond with Kasady was strong, merging with his blood and seemed to be actually a part of him, and Kasady was capable of reforming the symbiote, even when it was seemingly destroyed, by a single drop of blood. However, this capability diminished later on as the symbiote could be separated from its host and leave him powerless. Kasady's bond with the symbiote is far more profound than that of Venom's; they have bonded so completely, they refer to themselves as "I" instead of "We". The suit gives Carnage the ability to adhere to most surfaces with his hands and feet; project a web-like substance from any part of his body; form a variety of weapons; shoot tendrils from any part of his body; and plant thoughts into a person's head using a symbiote tendril. Like Venom, the symbiote is undetectable to Spider-Man's spider-sense. Carnage's symbiote originally had the power to "see" from any part of itself and relay the visual information to Kasady, although he appears to have lost this power. Carnage's symbiote is also vampiric, feeding on and thus endangering his victims by mere touch.
Carnage justifies his acts of murder with an absurdist philosophy, based on the idea that the universe is essentially chaotic and that law and order are a perversion. He believes that even the average person can be like him, provided he has "guts". According to Kasady, all human beings are basically evil; most just won’t admit it. His ultimate goal is for a society based on murderous hedonism and nihilism, with no law or moral order, and for people to have the freedom to do whatever they want. Carnage seems to have little interest in such typical supervillain desires as wealth and world domination. He kills mainly for his own pleasure, but also sees it as form of “art”. Kasady takes pride when his actions gain media attention, saying “I’m not inspired by the media… I inspire the media.” He once told Demogoblin that "Life is meaningless! Chaos! The universe has no center! Its creator is a drooling idiot!"
Several different versions of the symbiote appear in other comic continuities. The Earth-15 psychotic Peter Parker and Carnage combine to become the "Spider", and becomes a member of Weapon X in Exiles. He is killed by Firestar and sent back to his home world to be buried. Carnage teams up with the Joker during Spider-Man And Batman after removing behavior modifying chips from their bodies. The two eventually turn against each other, and Carnage is injured in an explosion. He captures Batman afterwards, but he is eventually defeated by Batman after being distracted by the Joker. The What If? comics feature a scenario where Carnage keeps control of the Silver Surfer. He battles various heroes until the Surfer manages to gain enough control in order to send himself into the sun, killing them both.
The MC2 version of Carnage is captured by S.H.I.E.L.D. and accidentally released by Spider-Girl. It takes control over one of Spider-Girl's friends, Moose Mansfied, as its new host, and later kidnapps Peter Parker and May's little brother, turning the baby into another Carnage. Spider-Girl defeats Carnage by using the ultrasonic weaponry of the villain Reverb to destroy both symbiotes.
The Ultimate Marvel Universe version of Carnage is self-regenerating form of life based on the symbiotic suit research of Richard Parker. He is created by Curt Connors to replace the missing Venom "suit" by using the the same process to create Venom, his own DNA, and the DNA of Peter Parker. Using some of Peter's memories, it travels to Peter's home and kills Gwen Stacy. It battles Peter, and he eventually manages to kill it. Doctor Octopus later creates a new Carnage that takes on the form of Gwen Stacy. It has the memories of Gwen and attempts to reunite with Peter. It eventually returns to its Carnage form when confronted by S.H.I.E.L.D., and is eventually taken into their custody. Carnage later escapes during the Green Goblin's escape.
Ultimate Spider-Carnage is created in the Ultimate Spider-Man video game, where Venom particles remaining in Peter's blood overtake his body after an injection of additional Venom suit particles directly into Peter's blood. Venom eventually absorbs this symbiote after a brief battle, granting Eddie Brock Jr. full control over the symbiote. He is voiced by Marcus Shirock.
- Cletus Kassady (Woody Harrelson) appears in the mid-credits scene of the 2018 film Venom as the first installment of Sony's Marvel Universe.
- Carnage is the main antagonist of the 2020 film Venom 2, with Woody Harrelson reprising his role.