Cletus Kasady

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Cletus Kasady
CletusKasady.jpeg
Cletus Kasady as he appears in The Superior Carnage #1 (July 2013). Art by Stephen Segovia
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance As Cletus Kasady:
The Amazing Spider-Man #344 (March 1991)
As Carnage (cameo):
The Amazing Spider-Man #360 (March 1992)
As Carnage (full):
The Amazing Spider-Man #361 (April 1992)
Created by David Michelinie (writer)
Erik Larsen (artist)
In-story information
Alter ego Cletus Kasady
Species human
Team affiliations Carnage Family/Maximum Carnage
Astonishing Avengers[1]
Partnerships Shriek
Demogoblin
Doppelganger
Carrion
Abilities Alien symbiote

Cletus Kasady is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #344 (March 1991) and became the first and most well known host of the Carnage symbiote in The Amazing Spider-Man #360.[2] Kasady was created by writer David Michelinie and artists Erik Larsen. He is usually depicted as an adversary to Spider-Man, as well as serving as an enemy to Venom.

In 2009, Carnage was ranked as IGN's 90th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time.[3]

Publication history[edit]

Writer David Michelinie intended to have Venom's human alter ego, Eddie Brock, be killed off in The Amazing Spider-Man #400 and have the symbiote continue to bond with a series of hosts. However, as Brock and Venom's popularity increased, Marvel would not allow him to be killed. Michelinie decided to create a new character: a total psychopath who, unlike Venom, had no sense of morality. The human component of Carnage’s first host, Cletus Kasady, was designed by artist Erik Larsen, who modeled the character after the DC Comics supervillain the Joker.[4]

Kasady was introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man #344 and first appears as Carnage in issue #361.[5] He in the Carnage symbiote is the main villain in the 1993 "Maximum Carnage" crossover, a 14-part storyline crossover that spanned through all the Spider-Man titles. 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.

After a 2004 appearance in New Avengers the character was presumed dead and was absent from comics for nearly six years. A 2010–2011 limited series titled Carnage featured the return of Kasady as Carnage.[6] The comic was released as a tie-in to the "Big Time" storyline in The Amazing Spider-Man.[7] This was followed by another five-issue limited series titled Carnage U.S.A. and published 2011–2012. Carnage was next seen in the 2012 "Minimum Carnage" crossover storyline between Scarlet Spider vol. 2, Venom vol. 2, and two one-shots titled Minimum Carnage Alpha and Minimum Carnage Omega. The character crosses over with the Superior Spider-Man in the 2013 five-issue limited series called Superior Carnage written by Kevin Shinick.[8]

In 2015, it was announced that Gerry Conway and Mike Perkins would be launching a new Carnage series, starting in November 2015, as part of Marvel's post-Secret Wars relaunch.[9]

Fictional character biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Kasady is a sociopath and a homicidal sadist. He is a deeply disturbed individual with a dark past: as a child, he killed his grandmother by pushing her down a flight of stairs, tried to murder his mother by throwing a hair dryer into her bathtub, and tortured and killed his mother's dog with a drill. After the latter, his mother then tried to kill Kasady, and was apparently beaten to the brink of death by Kasady's father, who received no defense from Kasady during the trial. As an orphan, Kasady was sent to the St. Estes Home for Boys, where his antisocial behavior made him the target of abuse from both the other orphans and the staff. Kasady gained revenge by murdering the disciplinarian administrator, pushing a girl (who laughed at him for asking to date her) in front of a moving bus, and burning down the orphanage. It was during his brutal years at St. Estes that Kasady acquired his philosophy that life was essentially meaningless and futile, that "laws are only words",[10] and came to see the spreading of chaos through random, unpatterned bloodshed as "the ultimate freedom".[11]

Rebirth[edit]

Kasady became a serial killer. He was then captured and sent to Ryker's Island prison for 11 murders—though he bragged about killing a dozen more[12]—where he shared a cell with Eddie Brock, the host of the alien symbiote that turns into the supervillain Venom. When Brock's symbiote soon returned to be bonded again, allowing Venom to escape prison, the symbiote unknowingly left its offspring in the cell; due to its alien mindset, the symbiote felt no emotional attachment to its offspring, regarding it as insignificant, and thus never communicated its existence to Brock via their telepathic link. The new symbiote then bonded with Kasady, transforming him into Carnage.[13] The bond between the Carnage symbiote and Kasady was stronger than the bond between Brock and the Venom symbiote. As a result, Carnage is far more violent, powerful, and deadly than Venom.[14] He escaped prison,[15] and began a series of murders, and at the scene of each crime, wrote "Carnage" on the walls with his own blood. He was found by Spider-Man, though the hero proved to be no match for Carnage's powers. In desperation, Spider-Man made a truce with Venom to fight Carnage.[12] The Carnage symbiote was defeated and apparently destroyed with sonic weaponry, but unbeknownst to them the symbiote’s deeper equilibrium with its host helped to save it. After entering Kasady’s body through a small cut, it bonded to his blood (which caused its red coloration).[16]

Maximum Carnage[edit]

Kasady is taken to The Vault, a prison for super-villains—then Ravencroft Institute, a facility for the super-human criminally insane. A doctor at the facility, hoping to find a "cure" for his madness, draws blood from him—unwittingly enabling Kasady to transform into Carnage—who goes on to recruit an army of psychopathic supervillains including Shriek, Demogoblin, Carrion, and Doppelganger to take over New York City. Using Shriek's "psychic channel" powers, he also drives ordinary New Yorkers to attack one another. Carnage and his "family" are ultimately driven back by Spider-Man, Venom and a number of other superheroes and super-antiheroes, with Carnage and Shriek being remanded to Ravencroft.[16]

Web of Carnage[edit]

During a subsequent jailbreak he made it his mission to kill his only childhood friend Billy Bentime, hoping to refute the notion that friendship should be paid in kind. Carnage nearly defeated Spider-Man until Bentime tricked Carnage into reverting to human form enabling Spider-Man to knock out Kasady with a simple punch.[17]

Though bonded to Kasady's bloodstream the symbiote found a way to ditch its host by travelling through the institute's water pipes, its absence leaving Kasady increasingly weakened, initially taking control of John Jameson before it eventually transferred itself to Spider-Man (currently Ben Reilly). Reilly attempted to destroy the symbiote by subjecting himself to a potentially lethal burst of microwave energy, but the symbiote fled back to the weakening Kasady.[18]

Later, Kasady was able to escape his prison when a new governor at Ravencroft decided to try and save money by turning off some of the defences around Kasady's cell, underestimating the level of awareness the symbiote had of its surroundings. During this escape, it was confronted by Spider-Man and the Silver Surfer, the symbiote - driven to a panic due to genetic memories of Galactus devouring a planet of symbiotes - parting from Kasady and bonding to the Surfer to stop him, while Spider-Man was forced to take Kasady to the hospital. Learning that the killer was dying of a stomach cancer that had been kept in check by the symbiote, Spider-Man was forced to help the Surfer return the symbiote to Kasady to save his life, but the Surfer then sealed Kasady in an unbreakable prison in an attempt to force him to reflect on his sins for eternity.[19]

Death and resurrection[edit]

Having tracked Kasady to a prison specially designed to hold him—how he escaped Silver Surfer's prison was never established—Venom eventually reabsorbs the Carnage symbiote into his own body "for good". Without the symbiote, Kasady attempts to re-assume the Carnage persona by costuming himself in red paint and continuing his killing sprees, claiming that he still possesses at least some of Carnage's strength and convinced that he only needs to kill Spider-Man and Venom to regain his symbiote, but Spider-Man nevertheless easily defeats him in a fight.[20] Kasady later ended in the Negative Zone, where he was guided by the remnants of the Carnage symbiote to another symbiote that was kept sealed somewhere in the Zone, and as he bonded with it, allowed the remnants of the Carnage symbiote to absorb it in the process and resurrect itself to once again become Carnage.[21]

Breakout[edit]

Carnage is one of several supervillains trying to escape from The Raft.[22] Sentry flies Carnage outside the Earth's atmosphere and rips him in two.

Family Feud[edit]

It is revealed that Kasady is alive (although both of his legs have been severed), his body preserved by the symbiote and repaired by Hall's prosthetics.[23] Kasady reclaims the symbiote and becomes Carnage once more, attempting to avenge his captivity while Spider-Man and Iron Man struggle to stop him. It is then revealed that Carnage is once again pregnant, and the suit's spawn briefly bonds to Shriek before being torn from her. Scared of Shriek's malice, the symbiote arm then bonds to Tanis, creating a new hero, Scorn, who defeats Shriek and forces her to use her sonic shriek to weaken Carnage for Spider-Man and Iron Man. Carnage, however, escapes with the Doppelganger and swears to make a bloody comeback.[23]

Carnage USA[edit]

In the aftermath of his return, Carnage sets off west to Doverton, Colorado.[24] He bonds most of the town to copies of his symbiote. Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hawkeye and the Thing attempt to defeat him but all except Spider-Man are bonded to copies. With the Avengers team compromised and Spider-Man out of communication, they send in another team consisted of symbiote-enhanced special forces. Dr. Tanis Nieves as Scorn goes along with the separated parts of Hybrid which make up Agony, Phage, Riot, and Lasher, but they are heavily outnumbered since Carnage controls the entire town. Captain America breaks free of his hold long enough to make an emergency call for back up to none other than Venom. Flash Thompson in the Venom symbiote sets off to Colorado to kill Carnage. The enhanced special forces keep fighting but Carnage sends the controlled Avengers after them, that was when Spider-Man comes with the unaffected residents of the town. The melee is particularly fierce when Venom intervenes with sonic rounds. Venom is about to kill Carnage with a gun in the mouth but Spider-Man stops him. Before Venom or Carnage can recover, Scorn uses a construction vehicle to carry the two to a device she built. She reveals that her device is meant to permanently remove the bonds from Carnage and Venom, but the hosts are still in there, leaving Kasady alone with a legless Flash Thompson. After the symbiotes fighting with themselves and the Avengers team, Venom finds its way back to Flash Thompson while Scorn is able to capture and contain the Carnage symbiote. The series ends with Kasady being captured and dragged into the back of a prison vehicle.[25]

Minimum Carnage[edit]

Carnage escapes prison yet again with the help of microns. Agent Venom is sent to the prison and discovers Kasady has escaped. Carnage flees to Houston, Texas and causes havoc, attracting the attention of the Scarlet Spider. Carnage takes the scientist Dr. Ketola, an expert in inter-dimensional transportation, as a hostage and escapes into the Microverse.[26] He is defeated by Venom and Scarlet Spider, who use a sonic bomb from the Microverse to temporarily separate Kasady from the symbiote. Scarlet Spider then impales Kasady through the eye, lobotomizing him. Carnage goes into a catatonic state: The symbiote is keeping his body alive, similar to a life-support system, but Kasady's brain and mind are believed to be irreparably damaged, leaving the symbiote in control.[27]

Superior Carnage[edit]

Kasady, now lobotomized, later broken out of prison by the Wizard and Klaw, who intend to recruit him into the Frightful Four and turn him into their own version of Venom. Carnage breaks free from Wizard's control and nearly kills him, but is subdued by Klaw. Taking Carnage into their hideout, Wizard tries to take control of Kasady's mind, but fails due to it being too damaged. Wizard then transfers the Symbiote to Dr. Karl Malus who dubs himself "Superior Carnage". [28]

Wizard blows up the hideout with Kasady still inside, seemingly killing him. While storming the city hall, Superior Carnage states that Kasady was a fool who wasted so much time on chaos while there was much more to be accomplished with a little focus.[28]

Ultimately, Spider-Man brings out Kasady's body to successfully draw the symbiote into it, which immediately devours Dr. Malus and then prepares to finish off the Wizard. However, Klaw ephemeral spirit focuses his sound manipulation powers one last time for a split second to create a powerful sonic blast that disables Carnage, allowing the symbiote to be recaptured. In the epilogue it is shown that the symbiote has managed to repair the Wizard's and Kasady's brain damage, followed by Kasady writing "CARNAGE RULES" on his cell wall.[28]

A piece of the symbiote (which had died in captivity) escapes containment and sets out in search of Kasady, who is bedridden due to having been stabbed by a fellow prison inmate. A doctor, anticipating that the symbiote will come seeking Kasady, smothers the killer in the infirmary, wanting the alien for himself. When the symbiote breaks into the facility, the doctor offers himself to the creature, but it rejects him, and returns to Kasady after resuscitating him. Carnage proceeds to asphyxiate the doctor, rampage through the prison, and escape.[29]

Deadpool vs. Carnage[edit]

Much later, Carnage clashed with Deadpool believing it was his own destiny to hunt Carnage.[30] When Carnage tore Deadpool to pieces, Deadpool bonded with the four symbiotes Phage, Riot, Lasher, and Agony.[31] Bonded with the four symbiotes, Deadpool tricked Shriek into thinking she killed Carnage. After that, Deadpool tricked Carnage by forcing Shriek to impersonate Deadpool and Carnage wounded Shriek in the process. Afterwards, Carnage, now broken that he almost killed Shriek, allows himself to be arrested by authorities and placed in an unlocked cell, waiting to be his own man. As he waited to be his own man, Carnage vowed revenge against Deadpool for tricking him.[32]

AXIS[edit]

During the AXIS storyline, Magneto starts to recruit villains in order to combat the Red Onslaught. He manages to convince Carnage by saying he'll cause more chaos by becoming a savior and so Carnage agrees. When he sees Deadpool he tells him that they are "going to have words after this".[33]

During the battle with Red Onslaught, Doctor Doom and the Scarlet Witch cast a spell which alters the moralities of almost everyone present, Carnage included. Filled with the irresistible urge to be a hero, Carnage returns to New York and goes around "saving" people, largely oblivious to the fact that he is causing more harm than good.[34] This is proven when Spider-Man finds that Carnage had saved a family from Squid and his gang, the Tentacles.[35] At the same time, a new Sin-Eater is murdering journalists, which unscrupulous reporter Alice Gleason uses to try and boost her popularity by feigning severe distress over the killings. Believing Alice's crocodile tears and convinced that she is a kindhearted and empathic person, Carnage rescues her from Sin-Eater and abducts her with the intent of having Alice teach him how to be "a great hero".[34] However, after Carnage defeats Sin-Eater by overloading his foe with all his old sins, Alice turns on Carnage and convinces the police that he has been attacking her, but the inverted Carnage simply concludes that she is teaching him that a true hero must be alone to protect others and swings away.[36]

Faced with the threat of the morally-inverted Avengers seeking to enforce their power and the inverted X-Men working with Apocalypse to take control of Manhattan, Spider-Man and the aged Steve Rogers are forced to work with Magneto and the "Astonishing Avengers" of Carnage and the other inverted villains.[37] Although unable to destroy the X-Men's gene-bomb, which would have killed all humans in the blast radius, Carnage sacrifices himself to contain the blast with his own symbiote, Spider-Man describing Kasady's sacrifice as the worst man he ever knew doing the most noble thing he'd ever seen.[38] With the crisis concluded, Peter Parker sets out to create a gold-and-rhinestone memorial to Carnage as he promised Kasady he would before his sacrifice. After the heroes and villains are inverted, a videotape is released in which the Astonishing Avengers—with Carnage as their "spokesman"—proclaim themselves to be the "Axis of Evil", taking responsibility for the Avengers' and the X-Men's actions during the inversion at the cost of their own brief time as heroes.[39]

Post-AXIS[edit]

However, Kasady was somehow able to cheat death again, though he lost the lower half of his body in the process, and went to Carefree, Arizona, to pay a visit to a new friend he made during the time he was inverted,[40] a friend he was willing to "help", Sam Alexander aka Nova. Kasady left a message signaling his return in the form of murdering a random bystander who he had asked where to find the boy as proof that he was reverted to his more natural moral axis.[41]

After learning that Sam's mother works at a local diner, Kasady took her hostage there in order to get his attention, but, tired of waiting, Kasady decided to kill her. Nova arrived before he could do so and took him away from the diner to an empty area in order not to hurt anyone. While fighting, Nova tried to convince him that he wasn't Sam Alexander, but the maniac didn't believe him. After being wounded by the Nova Force, Kasady fled in order to let his symbiote heal him as the police arrived. In the next day, already healed from his burns, Kasady attacked Sam again, this time at his school.[42]

While attacking Sam at school, Carnage saw Nova flying around the area, thus making it impossible for the boy to be Nova (unbeknownst to him, that was Sam's mother wearing his helmet). Enraged, Carnage followed the false Nova, but lost sight of her. He then started to attack innocent people to try to get Nova's attention, which he got. A new battle ensued between them both. Carnage was taken by Nova to the sky and then punched him into the parking lot below, the impact setting off the cars' alarms, dizzying Kasady and his symbiote. Kasady was then thrown by Nova, who had already realized Carnage's weakness to high sounds, into an Anthrax (a heavy metal band which Kasady was a fan of) show nearby. As the symbiote screamed in pain, Kasady fled from there to the road, but was attacked by Nova again. He threw a car at Nova, who caught it midair, and took advantage of it to punch him. Ready to finish off his opponent, Carnage was hit by a truck. He was then tied in metal plates by Nova and left by his symbiote as he revealed he wanted to kill Nova because he wanted to erase any memory of his good deeds, from the time he had his moral axis inverted, from anyone who remembered it. He was left by Sam in Ryker's Island.[43]

Venomized[edit]

As the Poisons launch an all-out assault on the Marvel Universe, they’re determined, since their last encounter with the alternate Carnage, not to leave him as a wildcard to be played against them. Thanos and his second-in-command, Doctor Doom, send Black Cat and others to fetch the serial killer so they can separate him from his red symbiote and replace it with one of their own. However, what they find is a Cletus Kasady who is no longer bonded with Carnage.[44]

As Thanos and Doctor Doom desperately want to bring Cletus into their hive, thereby making themselves stronger in the process, they discover for whatever reason, Cletus is resisting the symbiote bonding procedure, making him an anomaly to the Poisons.[45] The bonding procedure is eventually a success and Carnage is consumed by a Poison.[46] However while he was consumed by a Poison, due to his mental instability, Cletus was able to resist being assimilated into the Poison Hive and his consciousness persisted, only pretended to be loyal to the Hive. He battled both Venom and Spider-Man, nearly decapitating the former and impaling the latter. He was ultimately tossed into space by Venom and Danger, becoming one of the few Poisons to survive the death of the Poison Queen.[47]

Other versions[edit]

Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds[edit]

Carnage teams up with the Joker and later turns against him during Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds #1, the two men meeting when behavioral psychiatrist Cassandra Briar attempts to use the two men—regarded as humanity's most twisted minds—as tests for a chip she has developed that will allegedly 'lobotomise' their homicidal instincts. However, the Carnage symbiote neutralizes Kasady's chip after it is implanted, with Kasady simply pretending that the chip had worked so that he could meet the Joker. After Carnage removes Joker's chip, the two psychotics briefly enter into an alliance before their differing methods of murder cause a clash; Carnage favors numbers and actually seeing the death of his victims close-up in his murder sprees while the Joker prefers the artistry of his usual traps and tricks, Carnage dismissing the Joker's methods as slow while Joker sees Carnage as an amateur as anyone can just go out and kill people. Carnage responds by ambushing and threatening to kill Batman in order to be "theatrical". Carnage is defeated by Batman in the subsequent fight when he loses control of his symbiote while panicking after the Joker threatens to set off a bomb to destroy Gotham— himself and Carnage included— rather than see Carnage kill Batman. While defeating the shaken Kasady after his panic causes him to lose control of the symbiote, Batman reflects that many serial killers kill so many to try to escape death themselves by "appeasing" the Grim Reaper with their own sacrifices, and that Carnage—far from being a monster or even a "common street punk"— is little more than an overgrown "little boy", albeit with lethal powers.[48]

Venomverse[edit]

Hailing from a world where he had succeeded in killing Venom, Carnage was summoned at the behest of the Venom of the Prime Marvel Universe to help win the war between Venoms and Poisons. He was volatile at first, engaging in battle with the Resistance, but when he realized he had the opportunity to fight "a buncha messed-up super-heroes," he decided to join the Venoms.[49]

He was later captured by Poison Deadpool and revealed to be, for whatever reason, immune to the Poisons. His capture allowed the Resistance to infiltrate the Hive's ship. He was left for dead alongside Poison Deadpool, and was seemingly killed when the Hive's ship was destroyed.[50] Due to the encounter with Carnage, when the Poisons invaded the Prime Universe, they were determined not to leave him as a wildcard to be played against them.[44]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

  • Carnage (Cletus Kasady) appeared in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, voiced by Scott Cleverdon.[citation needed] This version was never shown killing anyone but still a deranged psychopath with a heavy criminal record. He appeared in the episodes "Venom Returns" and "Carnage". Cletus is captured by the police after planning to explode a bomb over New York. In prison, he shares a cell with Eddie Brock. After the original symbiote goes in their prison and rebonds with Brock and escapes, Baron Mordo appears in front of Cletus and explains that another symbiote has the same symbiotic powers. When Mordo makes a deal with this symbiote power in exchange for servitude to Dormammu, Cletus accepts the offer and bonds with the new symbiote, turning into Carnage and escapes the prison. Carnage and Venom are given vampiric powers to steal life energy so that Dormammu can escape into this dimension and consume. Carnage mockingly refers to Venom as Dad. Carnage abducts Ashley Kafka, resulting in Venom teaming up with Spider-Man and Iron Man. After the final showdown, Carnage tried to drag Ashley into Dormammu's realm with him, but Eddie sacrificed himself to save Ashley and falls through the portal with Carnage. Carnage, Venom and Dormammu are ultimately imprisoned in Dormammu's dimension.
  • Carnage (Cletus Kasady) appeared in Spider-Man Unlimited, voiced by Michael Donovan.[51] In this version, the symbiote is in complete control of its host, and works well with Venom. They traveled to Counter Earth to join the Symnoptic, a hive mind of symbiotes. In the series finale, the High Evolutionary separates Carnage and Venom from their respective hosts; Kasady is last seen as the Synoptic emerge on Counter-Earth.
  • Cletus Kasady has a non-voiced cameo appearance in The Spectacular Spider-Man. He is seen in the episode "Reinforcement" as a patient wearing a Santa Claus hat in Ravencroft during a group therapy session with Doctor Octopus and Electro when Kraven the Hunter attacks to break out the two villains.

Film[edit]

  • Cletus Kasady appears in a mid-credits scene of the 2018 film Venom, played by Woody Harrelson.[52][53] In the scene, Kasady is visited by Eddie Brock for an interview in prison, in an attempt to discover the location where Kasady stored the corpses of his victims. Kasady briefly converses with Brock, before proclaiming that he will escape, and when he does, “there will be carnage”. Harrelson has stated since then that Kasady will be having a major role in the film's sequel, having been unable to read its script until signing for the first film.[54]

Video games[edit]

Theater[edit]

Carnage (Cletus Kasady) appears in the Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark musical as a member of the Sinister Six and is played by Collin Baja.[63]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]