Variant cover of Venom Vol. 4, #5 depicting Knull (October 2018).
|First appearance||Venom #3 (August 2018) (full appearance)|
|Created by||Donny Cates|
|Place of origin||Primordial void|
|Team affiliations||Symbiote Imperium|
|Notable aliases||God of the Symbiotes, Lord of the Abyss, God-Host, Grendel (avatar), Exolon God, King in Black|
Knull is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics, commonly in association with Venom and Carnage. The character is depicted as an evil deity, who created the weapon known as All-Black the Necrosword and the alien races known as the Klyntar and Exolons. The character would go on to play a more important role in the Marvel Universe.
The character was first introduced in Venom #3 (Aug 2018), giving a nod to a nameless being appearing in Thor: God of Thunder #6. The character would be mentioned in various issues of Web of Venom, Guardians of the Galaxy and "War of the Realms". After that, Knull was the main antagonist in Donny Cates’ Silver Surfer: Black #1.
Knull returned in King in Black as the main antagonist, which centers on his attack on Earth with his symbiote army.
Fictional character biography
Knull is a primordial deity that came into being following the destruction of the sixth iteration of the cosmos, and was originally content to drift through the endless void until the Celestials arrived and began creating the 7th iteration of the Marvel Universe. Awakened by the "Light of the Creation" and outraged by his kingdom of darkness being despoiled, Knull retaliated by creating All-Black the Necrosword and killing one of the Celestials. Seeing this, the other Celestials banished Knull and the severed head deeper into the Void. He then used the head to forge the symbiote and combined it with the cosmic energies of the head, which would eventually become Knowhere. In doing so, he unintentionally gave the symbiotes their weaknesses to sonic attacks and fire. He created a symbiote armor and, with All-Black, started killing the other deities, until he crash-landed on an unnamed planet where Gorr took All-Black from the incapacitated Knull. Knull eventually reawakened and discovered he could bond his living abyss to "lesser creatures" and control their new form as vessels. He created an army of symbiotes with himself in the center of the hive mind and uses them to spread over the universe, establishing the Symbiote Hive and killing the light and creation in the process.
He continued killing gods, while also enslaving others whom he spared with the use of his abyss. At some point, he was approached by the time-displaced Silver Surfer, who had been weakened after the Surfer had created a little star in order to free a world from Knull's control. After a brief fight, Knull was able to bond a symbiote to the Surfer, but the latter was saved by Ego, the Living Planet. When Knull reached the Surfer, he tried to defeat him and re-infect the Surfer with his abyss, but the Surfer, who had gathered the energy of the cosmos, created a star which was enough to defeat Knull.
When one dragon-like symbiote arrived on medieval Earth to claim the planet as part of the Symbiote Hive, Thor arrived in aid of the Viking villagers and defeated the dragon, which the villagers called "Grendel", causing the connection between Knull and the symbiote hivemind to break. The symbiotes that were scattered over the universe, now free from Knull's control, began bonding to benevolent hosts and learning about the Light. The symbiotes rebelled against their god and trapped him inside an artificial planet formed of billions of symbiotes, which they called Klyntar — "cage" in their language.
After thousands of years, S.H.I.E.L.D. discovered the body of the Grendel and bound the pieces of the dragon to soldiers in order to create Super-Soldiers to fight in the Vietnam War. The procedure was dubbed the Sym-Soldier program. This reawakened Knull, allowing him to take control of the Sym-soldiers who went rogue before being captured by Nick Fury and Logan, except one piece, named Rex, which escaped Knull's control. Years later, Eddie Brock (Venom) unknowingly freed the dragon and, after a battle against Eddie and Spider-Man, the dragon began searching for Rex in order to free Knull. However, Venom merged with Rex and eventually trapped the Grendel in a blast furnace, incinerating it and Rex both. Afterward, the Maker and Project Oversight retrieve the Grendel's codex from the furnace.
In Carnage Born, after Scorn joined a cult worshiping Knull, they stole the Grendel's codex and Cletus' deceased body and, after implanting the codex inside Cletus, the Carnage symbiote's codex is absorbed by Grendel, causing Grendel to become god-like. After the contact with Knull, Cletus decided to free Knull by collecting every codex of every host who had at some point bonded to symbiotes in order to overload the symbiote hive mind and scatter the Klyntar. After Cletus reunited with Doppelganger and Shriek, they reformed the cult dedicated in worshiping Knull and returned to Doverton, Colorado, where they got the codices from the citizens and animals who were infected by Carnage during Carnage USA.
During "Absolute Carnage", as Carnage grew stronger, so did the connection between Knull and the symbiotes, as witnessed when Phage, Agony, Lasher, Riot and Scream also became corrupt. Knull was finally reawakened after Dark Carnage tricked Eddie into killing him after claiming the remaining codices. Knull promptly destroyed Klyntar and, manifesting a suit of draconic armor and coalescing its constituent symbiotes into a fleet of symbiote-dragons. Meanwhile Knull was tracked down by Wraith, who wanted Knull to remove the Exolon (parasites that attach to a host while feeding on their soul) from his body. Knull revealed to Wraith that Exolons were just his failed experiments on symbiotes and he dumped that "trash" in The Exoteric Latitude, though he striped the Exolon from Wraith's body and turned it into his sword while kicked off Wraith into the space. Soon, he resumed his campaign against the light all the while journeying to Earth, using his living abyss to claim entire planets to his cause, while haunting Eddie Brock with pointed nightmares and briefly imposed his influence over Dylan Brock to ensure that he would pledge allegiance to the Symbiote Imperium.
At the time when the Guardians of the Galaxy were investigating the death of Zn'rx Emperor Stote during the Galactic Council's meeting at the Proscenium and find that the Chitauri Peacekeeper and the Profiteer were responsible sometime after the events of the "Empyre" storyline, Zoralis Gupa of the planet Silnius takes an urgent call while mentioning to the person on the other side to warn all neighboring systems. He tells Victoria that it's the End of Everything as different planets are starting to die in the planets owned by the Shi'ar, the Kree/Skrull Alliance, and the Zn'rx while rendering the galactic economy fragile enough to go bankrupt. Knowing that she won't make a profit, the Profiteer teleports Peacekeeper and the bio-bomb away. While thanking Zoralis Gupa for fooling the Profiteer with the bluff, Zoralis Gupa states to Super-Skrull and everyone present that something darker than Galactus is destroying the worlds and its name is Knull.
Emperor Hulkling dispatched Talos to investigate the Kree and Skrull bases that went dark with Av-Rom, Keeyah, M'lanz, Virtue, and Tarna. Two days later, a Kree/Skrull Alliance armada headed by General Kalamari finds Talos' escape pod. After recuperating in the sick bay, Talos recaps to Kalamari about what happened on his mission that involved an encounter with Knull. Talos then informs Kalamari that his distress beacon on his escape pod is a warning that Knull is coming. Outside the ship, Knull is riding a Symbiote Dragon as he swoops in for an attack.
Powers and abilities
Knull is a primordial deity, having super strength, agility, immortality and healing factor. He possesses Supreme Umbrakinesis, as he can manifest darkness to create weapons and creatures, whom he calls the "Living Abyss", which he can control and also augment their power which allowed Venom to unlock new abilities and also allowed one of Knull's dragon to be unaffected by the symbiotes' classic weaknesses and to be as fast as the Silver Surfer. He also possesses limited shapeshifting ability, including the ability to turn his human-like mouth into fanged jaws with an elongated tongue — this feature was passed on to the symbiotes. He's also an expert combatant, utilizing All-Black to kill Celestials and other gods, while wearing an armor made from symbiote with a red dragon and spiral emblem, which was based on Spiral of Carcosa from the True Detective.
Despite his connection to the symbiotes being severed, his influence can still be seen such when Gorr, Old Galactus, Ego and King Loki, after being infected by All-Black, continued Knull's crusade to annihilate all existence, while Malekith bonded with the Venom symbiote called himself the Butcher of Thor. Venom formed a similar emblem with mixed design of Knull's emblem and Spider-Woman's. Similarly, the Nameless, a group of Kree explorers, after being infected by the Exolons, had their skin slowly fade with their outward appearance now resembling Knull.
In other media
Knull makes his animated debut in the Disney XD animated series Spider-Man: Maximum Venom. He first appears in the promo "The Secret Story of Venom", wherein Venom explains to his latest host the symbiotes' origins as the Klyntar, living weapons used by Knull to wage a crusade against the Celestials. Despite their victories however, Knull eventually abandoned his first creations, the Symbiote Sisters, after deeming them useless to him. The Symbiote Sisters went on to crash-land on an alien planet, replicate into several spawn, and bond with the native inhabitants in a bid for finding a harmonic purpose in life.
Knull and Ancient Venom (Venom possessed by Knull) appear in the mobile game Spider-Man Unlimited.
Knull is a playable character and boss in the gamemode World Boss Legend: Knull in the mobile game Marvel: Future Fight.
In his early appearance, the character was received well, with Comic Book Resources drawing comparison with two other Marvel Villains: Morlun and Dracula. However, Comic Book Resources also criticized the character's design as being unoriginal and similar to most other villains, and not matching his nature, saying that the character would have been better if he would have been more similar to his creation. Bleeding Cool stated about the history that "It’s an engaging new story, and it redefines the symbiotes for the Marvel Universe." Knull was ranked number one in IGN's list of Marvel's Most Powerful Symbiotes.
- Spider-Man/Venom Free Comic Book Day #1. Marvel Comics.
- DeFalco, Tom; Sanderson, Peter; Brevoort, Tom; Teitelbaum, Michael; Wallace, Daniel; Darling, Andrew; Forbeck, Matt; Cowsill, Alan; Bray, Adam (2019). The Marvel Encyclopedia. DK Publishing. p. 205. ISBN 978-1-4654-7890-0.
- King in Black #1. Marvel Comics.
- Cates, Donny (26 July 2018). "Yep! The severed celestial head in VENOM #4 would someday erode and decay and become Knowhere! Good catch!". twitter.com. Twitter. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
- Thor God of Thunder #6. Marvel Comics.
- Silver Surfer: Black #1-2. Marvel Comics.
- Silver Surfer: Black #5. Marvel Comics.
- Venom Vol. 4 #4. Marvel Comics.
- Web of Venom Ve'nam #1. Marvel Comics.
- Venom Vol. 4 #1-3. Marvel Comics.
- Venom Vol. 4 #5-6. Marvel Comics.
- Venom Vol. 4 #7. Marvel Comics.
- Web of Venom Carnage Born #1. Marvel Comics.
- Web of Venom Cult of Carnage #1. Marvel Comics.
- Absolute Carnage: Separation Anxiety #1. Marvel Comics
- Absolute Carnage: Scream #1. Marvel Comics
- Guardians of Galaxy Vol 5 #3. Marvel Comics.
- Web of Venom: Wraith #1
- Absolute Carnage #5. Marvel Comics.
- Incoming #1. Marvel Comics.
- Venom #21. Marvel Comics.
- Venom #22
- Web of Venom: The Good Son #1. Marvel Comics.
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 6 #8. Marvel Comics.
- Web of Venom: Empyre's End #1. Marvel Comics.
- @Doncates (21 April 2019). "Nothing can kill Knull" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "VENOM BOIZ! w/Donny Cates: Venom (2018) #1 Director's Commentary". 22 June 2019.
- Thor: God of Thunder #24. Marvel Comics.
- Mighty Thor #700. Marvel Comics.
- Thor Vol 5 #6-12. Marvel Comics.
- War of the Realms #6. Marvel Comics.
- Thor Vol. 5 #14. Marvel Comics.
- Secret Wars #8. Marvel Comics.
- "Venom Writer Confirms Origin of Venom's Iconic White Spider Symbol". Comic Book Resources. 4 January 2019. Archived from the original on 28 April 2019. Retrieved 28 April 2019.
- Annihilation Conquest: Wraith #2. Marvel Comics.
- "Meet Knull, Venom's God of the Symbiotes". CBR. 27 June 2018. Archived from the original on 24 March 2019. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
- Donohoo, Timothy (9 August 2020). "Venom's Symbiote God Should Have Remained in the Shadows". CBR. Retrieved 2020-07-11.
- "Venom #4 Review: The Origins of Knull and the Symbiotes". Bleeding Cool. 28 July 2018. Archived from the original on 12 May 2019. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
- "Marvel's most powerful symbiotes". IGN. 19 October 2018. Archived from the original on 20 May 2019. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
- Johnston, Rich (June 30, 2018). "The Rather Sweary True Meaning of Knull". Bleeding Cool. Archived from the original on 2 July 2020. Retrieved 2020-07-02.
- Dahlskog, Noréa (July 2, 2020). ""Knull is coming" – akta er för Marvel Comics superbov". Expressen. Archived from the original on 2 July 2020. Retrieved 2020-07-02.
- "Marvel Comics: "Knull is coming – 2020"". www.vg.no (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 2020-07-03.