Introduced to Marvel Comics in the '80s and '90s respectively, Venom and its offspring, Carnage, became two of the publisher's most iconic villains. These symbiotes bonded to human hosts (Eddie Brock and Cletus Kasady, respectively) and wreaked havoc on the Marvel Universe, particularly in Spider-Man's life.
However, thanks to writer Donny Cates and artist Ryan Stegman, the symbiote drama went into full swing thanks to his Venom run. He's reshaped and added depth to so much of the alien species' mythos, and following Maximum Carnage decades ago, he's continuing to show Cletus' power through Absolute Carnage. But at the heart of all his symbiote stories is the being known as Knull, so with that said, let's take a look at the history of the symbiote god and his role in the future of the Marvel Universe.
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WHO IS KNULL?
Knull is an ancient, malevolent evil that roamed the cosmos as a conqueror eons ago. He created a symbiote sword called the All-Black inside a dead Celestial's head (later known as Knowhere), which he eventually lost in battle and saw fall in the hands of Gorr, the God Butcher, in Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic's Thor stories.
Knull's objective was to slay other cosmic gods, and even without his sword, he realized he could create and control an army of symbiotes. They would inhabit hosts and become a hive mind, but in time, this army turned on Knull, imprisoning him at the heart of a planet called Klyntar, which translates to "the cage." These symbiotes would then go on to try to protect the galaxy, but some went rogue, as seen with the Grendel dragon that crash-landed on Earth.
After Knull resurrected Cletus centuries later, he managed to gain control of the Grendel, sending it on a rampage on Earth. Knull was assembling its missing pieces from all the hosts it ended up being bonded to, all so the completed monster could come free his physical form from the Klyntar. Thankfully, this plan failed thanks to a heroic Eddie/Venom, but when Knull's cult managed to bond a piece of Grendel to Cletus' body later on, the god took control, convincing the psycho to hunt down everyone that was ever bonded to a symbiote as part of a bigger plan to finally free his body.
WHAT ARE KNULL'S POWERS?
Knull is a primordial god of cosmic darkness, connected to an abyss called the Void. As seen with his connection to the All-Black the Necrosword, his otherworldly powers include creating and controlling armies of symbiotes, and even possessing them in their monster form, as the dragon Grendel.
He also has superhuman strength, durability and is mostly invulnerable, and can live for billions of years without a single drop of sustenance. Knull more or less takes the form of a Dracula-looking entity, but he can also shapeshift when needed, with his most popular form being a monster similar to the long-tongued entity his symbiotes manifest as.
Knull's strength is at its max in the dark, and the more light there is, especially cosmic light, the more difficult life becomes for the villain. In combat, Knull is essentially as strong as Hulk with the Carange of Venom symbiotes. He's vicious and near-unstoppable, which certainly frames him as one of Marvel's most powerful aliens of all time. In short, he's a super-symbiote who has no limits.
WHAT'S HIS NEW ROLE?
Venomized saw the entire Marvel Universe being attacked and possessed by symbiotes, and from his cage in the Klyntar, Knull knows that once he can tap into their minds, they'll all be at his disposal. He's now trying to establish some sort of link to these folks, which is what Carnage is trying to do by capturing the symbiote codex from the individuals who were once possessed.
With Carnage and Grendel now connected to Knull via Cletus' body, he's using Cletus as his avatar because he sees him as his true successor and the key to freedom. It remains to be seen how subservient Cletus will be to Knull, but so far it appears Knull is convincing the villain to follow his lead blindly.
Once all these bits and pieces are reassembled, Knull will escape, return to his true form and as payment, it seems like Carnage will become his right-hand man. Of course, we know Carnage is willing to double-cross his supposed allies, but against the very god that made his ancestors, that seems like a tall order. Carnage is all to ready to play along with his lord, as he knows Knull will lead the path to the destruction he's always sought. In the process, the duo will also attain a symbiote army ready to finish the galactic mission they were bred for.
Absolute Carnage is written by Donny Cates and illustrated by Ryan Stegman. The series is scheduled to launch this August from Marvel Comics.