Of all the symbiotes running rampant in the Marvel Universe, one has stood out among the rest as the most deadly: Carnage.
Even though the attention of the Marvel Universe is collectively focused on the symbiote god Knull meets in Marvel’s King in Black crossover, the Carnage symbiote remains one of the most dangerous symbiotes to ever threaten the Marvel Universe. One of the most notable aspects of the Carnage symbiote is the fact that it is stronger than its predecessor, the already powerful Venom. This is why both Spider-Man and Venom have trouble dealing with it on their own. While it stands to reason that the new generation is an improvement over the previous one, there is a reason why the Carnage symbiote, in particular, is so strong compared to Marvel’s other prominent symbiotes.
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The Carnage symbiote first appeared in David Michelinie and Chris Marrinan. Amazing Spider-Man # 360 and is the offspring of the Venom symbiote. When the Venom symbiote broke Eddie Brock out of prison, he left his offspring behind. Due to the nature of the Venom symbiote, he cared nothing for this childish symbiote and left him to whatever fate he found on his own. This decision would haunt the heroes of the Marvel Universe for years to come.
By requiring a host, the new symbiote latched on to the closest person it could find: serial killer Cletus Kasady. But the way he bonded with Cletus is part of what makes him so different from his father. The symbiote did not simply engulf Cletus in itself, it entered through a bleeding gash on his hand, permanently bonding with Cletus’ bloodstream. This created an intrinsic bond between the two, with Cletus being able to regenerate the entire symbiote from a single drop of blood.
But this was not the end of Carnage’s unique abilities. Like Venom, he possessed many of Spider-Man’s abilities, as well as a built-in immunity to his arachnid sense due to his biological ties to Venom. But more than this, Carnage also possesses immunity to Venom being able to sense it.
However, Carnage wouldn’t have made such a name for himself if those were the limits of his abilities. He also has powers that Venom simply does not possess. Carnage has shape-shifting abilities that he uses to mimic Spider-Man’s web tossing, but he can produce tendrils that serve as his “organic web” of other parts of his body. On multiple occasions, Carnage has shown that this is not the limit of his body’s ability to transform. It has grown wings, additional limbs, and has even altered the symbiote’s density. But the most well-known extension of this power is his ability to craft weapons with his symbiote, such as swords, knives, or even axes. Of course, these only last ten seconds outside of your body, but for a psychotic killer like Cletus Kasady, this is a long time.
As for the question of why the Carnage symbiote’s abilities are so different from Venom’s, Eddie Brock theorized that it was not a factor of internal evolution, but external forces. The Venom symbiote came from space, an environment it was used to. But the Carnage symbiote was born on Earth, an alien environment. As a result, the symbiote developed new survival mechanisms to better adapt to life in a new world.
Brock’s assessment is an unfortunate but ultimately correct assessment as to why Carnage is so much more deadly than his father. If it had been attached to someone else with a healthy mind, it may not have been a threat. But in the hands of Cletus Kasady, the Carnage symbiote is a weapon of mass destruction. Cletus’ madness has always amplified the abilities of the symbiote which naturally thrives on the hatred and anger of its host, something that Cletus Kasady has in abundance. With this in mind, there is little doubt how the Carnage symbiote has become the deadliest of all known symbiotes.
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