Carnage has always been one of the more dangerous threats in the Spider-Man rogues gallery. The symbiote, created by David Michelinie & Mark Bagley in Amazing Spider-Man #361, was the potentially powerful spawn of Venom. It was already dangerous before it latched onto serial killer Cletus Kasady. As the maniacal Carnage, Kasady has been killed multiple times over the years, but he always finds a way to come back, stronger than ever.
With the character ready to target the entire Marvel Universe in Absolute Carnage, CBR is taking a look back at the history of Carnage's powers and just how he became so much stronger than Venom.
The Venom symbiote is a member of the Klyntar symbiote species, which can bond to other species, fusing to them and granting them powers. Many humans have interacted with the Klyntars over the years, most notably Eddie Brock. Fusing with the symbiote that had previously bonded with Spider-Man, Brock became known as Venom. Eventually, though, that symbiote left behind one of it's spawn. As with the rest of its race, the child of a symbiote always proves to be more powerful than its parent. Unfortunately, the spawn fused with Brock's prison cellmate, Kasady, to create one of Spider-Man's most lethal foes. Although, this same principle of strength increasing with subsequent generations carried on with Carnage's spawn, Toxin, outclassing the symbiote in turn.
Another element that makes symbiotes more powerful is how many hosts has it taken over, with both Venom and Carnage increasing in power thanks to this. In recent years, the Carnage symbiote has been amplified multiple times. By being connected to the exceptionally powerful mystical Darkhold, Carnage lost his race's established weaknesses to fire and sonics and became stronger than ever. Carnage was able to use these powers to bring the demonic Chthon into the world. But the pair were overwhelmed, and although the Toxin symbiote was destroyed in the process Chton was defeated. In the aftermath, Carnage was forcibly separated from the symbiote once again.
The Bleeding King
Following the events of Venomized, Cletus Kasady was believed dead. Left to rot in space as one of the last Poisons (a multiversal race of invaders who absorbed hosts into their hive-mind), the remnants of the Carnage symbiote inside Kasady's body peeled off the Poison attributes. But despite no longer suffering from typical Klyntar weaknesses like fire and sonics, the symbiote was seemingly unable to survive the re-entry into Earth. Kasady didn't survive much longer either, expiring following the crash.
But again, Carnage would rise back up, this time in the service of something more ancient and powerful than itself. A death cult on Earth, praising the long slumbering cosmic death god Knull, stole Kasaday's body from the government. Its mission was to bond Kasady to a piece of the Grendel symbiote. Grendel is one of the Klyntar that directly belonged to Knull, which gives it a deep connection to the ancient figure. People possessed by Grendel could even feel Knull communicating with them. Grendel was once almost able to fully reawaken Knull before it was stopped by Spider-Man and Venom. The remnants of Grendal were taken by the villainous Maker, but this sample was promptly stolen by the same cult that recovered Kasady.
Prophet Of Knull
Knull was the creator of the Klyntar race, but after he used them in his war against the rising of the rest of creation, his creations turned on him. They swarmed around Knull, trapping him in a cage of billions of symbiotes. Essentially put into an eternal slumber, an awakened Knull would have the power to fight powerhouses like Thor and the Silver Surfer and raze the galaxy. It's also been revealed that when symbiotes fuse with someone, they leave pieces of themselves forever fused to the host's DNA. Known as a "codex," these pieces could theoretically be refused and used to empower a Klyntar and give it the ability to fully reach out to Knull.
To recover enough of these codexes' to connect with Knull, the cult fused Grendel with Carnage. This new version of Carnage became enamored with the idea of reconnecting Knull so they can destroy everything in their path. But to make matters worse, the creature seems to have retained the madness that has always defined the monstrous Carnage. It's already stolen the codexes from multiple people who had been connected by Carnage in the past, increasing it's scope and power.
With the Grendal symbiote, Carnage has become even more powerful than ever before. The villain has received more power boosts in the past few years than most characters get in decades, and in the end, it might just be too much for Venom and Spider-Man to handle on their own.