The Marvel Universe is home to many strange alien life forms, some of which want to kill or conquer humans, and others who want nothing to do with us.
And then, there are the symbiotes.
These mysterious beings are usually overjoyed to run across a human, because that means they’ve come across a host that can feed them the dark emotions and desires they hunger for. In exchange for this bon,d they provide their hosts with a variety of superhuman attributes.
Some human hosts, like Flash Thompson, the current host of the Venom symbiote, use these abilities to practice a (sometimes lethal) brand of crime fighting. Others, however, like serial killer Cletus Kasady, the initial host of the Carnage symbiote, use their alien other halves for more sinister purposes.
This February, in the “Superior Carnage Annual” by writer Cullen Bunn and artist Kim Jacinto, Kasady makes an attempt at re-bonding with his symbiote and embark upon a chaotic murder spree. We spoke with Bunn about the annual, reuniting the star-crossed serial killers and the possibility of more Carnage in the future.
CBR News: As a co-writer for the “Minimum Carnage” crossover between “Venom” and “Scarlet Spider,” you helped tell the story that lobotomized Cletus Kasady. Then, Kevin Shinick put him back on the road to recovery at the end of his recent “Superior Carnage” miniseries with the revelation that exposure to a symbiote can heal a host’s brain injuries. Now, you’re returning to the characters of Kasady and Carnage for a story that grows from that. What made you want to return to these characters?
Cullen Bunn: I was drawn to this book because it gave me the chance to put a bow on all of the adventures and mis-adventures Carnage has had in the last few years — and set him up for what comes next. This story helps Carnage redefine his mission statement (if someone like Carnage can actually have a mission statement) and refocus on being the violent mass murderer he was meant to be.
How would you describe the bond between Cletus and the Carnage symbiote going into your “Superior Carnage Annual?” What do they mean to each other?
Going into the annual, the physical bond between Cletus and the Carnage symbiote has been severed. But we’ll see that their connection goes beyond the host/symbiote dynamic. The question becomes — can they survive without one another?
What else can you tell us about the plot and themes of your “Superior Carnage Annual?” Whose perspective is the story told from?
I’ve always called this issue “Carnage: Homecoming.” That’s what it’s all about: Bringing Carnage home, back to the brass tacks of the character. When Carnage first burst onto the scene, he was a servant of chaos and disorder. Over time, he went through a lot of changes. He started to form plans that went beyond mayhem and murder. And it never worked out for him. Now, Cletus and the symbiote have been torn away from one another, so Carnage wants to go back to what he’s best at — killing randomly.
As for a point-of-view character, you’ll see parts of the story told from the point of view of Cletus, some from the symbiotes and some from the victims.
Who are some of the antagonists the title character will run afoul of in the “Superior Carnage Annual?” And did this project afford you your first chance to write the Superior Spider-Man?
Superior Spider-Man does not appear, although we do spend just a little time on Spider-Island. As for antagonists, we see a few characters who pose a threat, a couple to Cletus himself and another to the very bond between Cletus and Carnage. But this is a book about black hats and black hats — lots of bad people trying to do mean things to one another. There are a few good people in the book, too, but they don’t fare very well.
Most of the annual is focused on Cletus and Carnage. When supporting characters appear, they are quickly swept up by the bloody mess that results in the symbiote trying to reunite with Cletus. One character in particular — a psychiatrist named Jenner — may be a huge game-changer for Carnage. He believes Cletus is ready to abandon ties to Carnage — and he’s going to take some drastic steps to ensure his diagnosis is correct.
This story follows a couple of tracks. In one, we see Cletus in prison — and he’s not doing too well. In the other track, the Carnage symbiote is on a road trip of sorts, traveling across the country in search of his one, true host.
This project reunites with your “Venom” collaborator, artist Kim Jacinto. We know what Kim can do with Flash Thompson and the character of Venom, but what do you feel he brings to Cletus, Carnage, and this story?
This is a dark, horrific story, and Kim brings some A-game creepiness and moodiness to Carnage. It takes a special kind of artist to bring this kind of deviancy to life.
Can you offer up a final, grand overview for the book? And if the opportunity presents itself, would you be interested in telling more tales with Carnage?
There are elements of a road-story and a prison drama here, and tonally it is dark and mean. It’s a fairly grounded tale — no trips to the Microverse here — and the characters in this story, including Cletus and Carnage, are facing some brutal, ghastly challenges. As you might expect with a story about Carnage, some characters are gonna die.
But you’ll be surprised when it comes to just who bites the bullet.
Now that I’ve written this annual, I sure would love to do something else with Carnage.
Hmm — Stay tuned?