Friday, April 27, 2007

Venom Begate Carnage Begate Ubiquity

since Spider-Man 3 hits theaters next week, which will see the big-screen debut of Venom, i thought i'd delve into Carnage, the twisted offspring of Venom's symbiote.




Height: 6' 1"
Weight: 190 lbs
Eyes: Green
Hair: Red
Features: As Carnage, elongate jaw & "teeth", ever moving tendrils from various parts of his body, both of which are a part of the alien that is his costume.

Created By: David Michelinie, Mark Bagley, Randy Emberlin
Real Name: Cletus Kasady
Current Aliases: None
Former Aliases: None
Dual Identity: Publicly Known
Current Occupation: Prisoner/patient, Ravencroft
Former Occupation: Serial Killer
Citizenship: U.S.
Legal Status: Mostly Dead
Place of Birth: Brooklyn, New York
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives: Mother (killed by father), Venom (symbiote parent), Father (deceased), Grandmother (killed by Cletus)
Known Confidants: Shriek
Known Allies: Shriek, Doppelganger, Demogoblin, Carrion II
Major Enemies: Spider-Man, Venom, Cloak & Dagger
Usual Bases: Ravencroft Institute
Former Bases: Former site of the St. Estes Home for Boys, Brooklyn, New York
Current Groups: None
Former Groups: None
Education: High School

Powers & Paraphenalia
Strength Level: Unknown, shown to be significantly stronger than both Venom and Spider-Man
Powers: Has a symbiote costume simalar to Venom, but seems to be more powerful, possibely due to it's incubation on Earth. Kasady's symbiote can, like Venom's, mimic any type of clothing, but unlike Venom, Carnage has not been seen useing the costume as camoflage. The symbiote has augmented all of Kasady's physical abilities to super-human levels apparently higher than that of Venom's.
Abilities: Carnage animates his costume to create snares, swing line, and most often bladed weapons. Carnage can hurl these "blades" from anywhere on his body. They disinetgrate after about thirty seconds after they are thrown. Carnage also posses wall-cralwing abilities similar to Venom's. In some unknown manner, the symbiote can dampen both Spider-Man's spider-sense, & the Venom symbiote's in born ability to track its spawn.
Equipment: None
Weapons: None
Limitations: The symbiote is vunerable to both sonics(to a much lesser degree than it's parent) & heat based attacks (to a much greater degree than its parent).

Cletus Kassady was born into an ultra-violent home. Or perhaps he was just a bad seed in a good and loving family. He likes to taunt his psychiatrists and enemies with a changing story. In one version, he watched his father murder his mother with a drill. His father was sent to prison and Cletus was sent to live with his grandmother. Cletus killed the old woman's dog and when she came running to the basement, Cletus pushed her down the stairs. The police called it an accident and Kassady was sent from foster home to foster home. He was repeatedly abused by his foster families, further deepening his belief that a human being is nothing more than a bag of blood that is good for nothing more than dying and making more bags of blood.

Cletus became a scourge to everything around him. He burned down St Estes Home for Boys, pushed a girl in front of a bus after she refused to date him and was generally a very unpleasant person. Kassady was serving 11 consecutive life terms in prison for murder, in which he was Eddie Brock's (AKA Venom) cellmate. When the alien symbiote came to break Eddie out of jail, it left behind a "child" that bonded with Kassady, creating Carnage. Kassady then broke out of jail in attempt to spread his message of chaos. His thought being, if you have the guts, you can do anything. Up to, and including murder.

Spider-Man eventually encountered him, but was unable to stop him. Going against his better judgement, Spider-Man decided to return Venom to New York after Spidey faked his death on a deserted island. He and Brock had an uncomfortable alliance, but both were commited to ending the greater evil of Carnage. After defeating Carnage, Spider-Man broke his promise to let Venom go free and the symbiotic madman was captured by the Fantastic Four.

Carnage's second rampage through New York was to be his most infamous. Escaping from Ravencroft with a fellow inmate, Shriek, Carnage went on a mission of mayhem across Manhattan. Along the way, he teamed with the mindless Spider-Man Doppelganger, Carrion II and Demogoblin. This bloodthirsty gang forced a team up of various vigilantes consisting of Spider-Man, Venom, the Black Cat, Captain America, Morbius, Deathlok, Iron Fist, Cloak and Dagger and Nightwatch. After several days of rioting, Carnage and the others were captured.

Carnage has escaped several times in attempt to spread his message. Most notably, his symbiote blended with both Silver Surfer. After bonding to the Surfer, it was revealed that the symbiotes were a space traveling species that act as locusts. The Surfer arrived as the symbiotes consumed the inhabitants of a far off planet. Disgusted by the creatures, the Silver Surfer summoned his master, Galactus. The world devourer quickly destroyed the planet, an event which traumatized the symbiotic race. It became a "genetic memory" and each symbiote desired to kill the Silver Surfer.

Recently, Carnage lost his symbiote when Venom re-absorbed it. But Mackie couldn't let a character actually change, that would be too much like long-term plot development, so he had him discover another one just the same, in the Negative Zone.

Eventually a writer came along who had the courage to get rid of this overused character. In a 2004 story, Brian Micheal Bendis decided that it was time for Carnage to walk the plank. As Carnage attempted to escape from prison and drain the life force out of the people around him (hmm... that's a new ability, perhaps Bendis didn't quite do his homework) he was beaten by a vigilante known as the Sentry who then who then flew him into outer space, tore him in half, and abandoned him. Of course, for a space-creature maybe that isn't fatal... but at least he's out of the picture for a while!

from Wikipedia:

Ultimate Carnage

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
Ultimate Carnage on the cover of Ultimate Spider-Man #62. Art by Tom Lyle.
Ultimate Carnage on the cover of Ultimate Spider-Man #62. Art by Tom Lyle.

The Ultimate Marvel Universe version of Carnage is very different from the Marvel Universe version, although both characters were designed by Mark Bagley. The title of the arc, Carnage, referred only to the path of murder the creature embarked upon; the creature is never named.

Curt Connors had created a rejuvenating symbiotic suit using the work of Spider-Man's late father Richard Parker: the Venom "suit". After a series of mishaps, the suit went missing, and Connors worried that years of work had been destroyed. But a new opportunity presented itself. After an injury, Peter Parker sought out Connors' help in treating his wounds, and Connors ended up with a sample of Spider-Man's genetically altered blood. He used the blood to create a new organism based partly on the Venom project. Using DNA from himself, the Venom project, and Peter, Connors developed a unique, self-regenerating form of life. This blood-red creature grew from a few inches long to the size of a child very rapidly, and quickly escaped. The creature drained the fluids from several victims, rapidly increasing its mass and strength.

Remembering memories from Peter, the Carnage creature went to the Parker residence. It surprised and killed Gwen Stacy. Soon afterwards, it found itself in combat with Peter Parker. Reasoning that the creature was not actually alive (and alarmed at its gradual resemblance to his own father), Peter threw it into a smokestack, where the Carnage creature apparently met its end.

In the video game Ultimate Spider-Man, another Carnage creature was created when hostile scientists activated the dormant Venom particles in Peter's body. The particles overtook him, and he battled Venom. The Carnage suit is quickly absorbed by Venom, whose host, (Eddie Brock) gains full control of the Venom suit.

Recently, someone claiming to be Gwen Stacy returned. She retained no memory of her death, only remembering waking up in a hospital room. When a small army of S.H.I.E.L.D. Spider Slayers arrived to take Peter into custody, the new 'Gwen' became agitated and transformed into Carnage, or a creature similar to it. She (or it) then attacked the gathered Spider Slayers. After a prolonged and destructive rampage through the Slayers, the AI on the Slayer drones manage to adapt to Carnage's biological data, and neutralize the creature by changing it back into 'Gwen' with a series of power energy blasts. Notably, this 'Gwen' version appeared to have white teeth in a similar manner to the 616 Venom rather than Carnage's traditional black, red or yellow fangs. This version, or one like it, was also seen in Ultimate Spider-Woman's flashback to the labs where she was created; Carnage, referred to as "The Stacy Experiment" by a fleeing scientist, caused enough panic for all of the Spider-Clones to escape.

Solicitations for the Epilogue of The Ultimate Clone Saga - issue #105 - stated that the fate of 'Gwen Stacy' will be decided by Nick Fury. Within this issue, Fury inspects Stacy, who is held in containment next to Ultimate Scorpion, turns to the Geneticists in charge of the project, and tells them to 'Get to Work'.


to me, Carnage is the quintessential 90s comic book character. he's little more than a rip-off of Venom with some of the Joker thrown in. the one comparison that rings true to me when it comes to this character is this;

Carnage is to Venom what Kane is to the Undertaker.

a hollow retread with nothing to say and a very limited shelf life, but due to a chance combination of a toyetic appearance and a gratuitous mean streak that bloodthirsty fanboys mistake for "bad-ass", the character can experience a certain level of popularity. Kane appeared in a film, Carnage had a video game that centered around him, complete with an action figure tie-in and a rare red cartridge.

being a ten year old fanboy who ate up anything related to Spider-Man, especially if Venom was somehow connected, i bought into it. i believed the hype that made Carnage out to be everything Venom would be, but now Venom was a good guy and Carnage took his spot on the bad-ass alien villain ladder.

how wrong we were.

Venom was actually a CHARACTER. he represented the dark half of both Spider-Man and his alter ego Peter Parker. he knew all of Parker's secrets. he was immune to the Spider-Sense. he spoke in gory monologues that suggested he would dine on Spider-Man's cranial contents. he looked like the version of Spider-Man that JJ Jameson tried to push on the public; a hulking drooling fanged menace out for blood. had Spider-Man kept the black costume, Venom is what he very well may have become.

Carnage? well he killed people and was red and made weapons from his arms. he had one big crossover and than aside from cool looking action figures, not much else worth noting. the whole thing reminds me of an episode of Ren and Stimpy, where Evil Ren split himself in half to create Hideously Evil Ren. "Sure, Venom is big and scary, but Carnage will be even scarier and violenter and bad-asser!" Scary and Violent wasn't all that Venom was. Carnage may have been good for one story, but beyond that he's useless. it doesn't matter how fucked up to the EXTREEEME a character is if that's the only thing he has going for him. Venom wasn't just Eddie Brock gone slightly mad, it was as if two beings were sharing the body (hence the "We are Venom" speak), which is pretty interesting and makes for a conflict within the character that can make for good story telling. there is no conflict with Carnage. Kassady is Carnage. that's an interesting concept to play with, the fact that Kassady excepts his accountability and seems to enjoy his power, where as Brock insists that there are 2 minds at work. unfortunately no writer explored that philosophical discussion on even the most rudimentary level, and we're left with a Beavis and Butthead approved creation with the depth of a scary metal band's album cover.

i like the Ultimate take on the character, in that he's an Anti-Character. he's a virus, science gone bad. the underlying message is that the original Carnage was just that; a one-trick pony that hit an unreal stride of popularity due to clever marketing and a cool look. Carnage was everywhere, hell i remember some books where Carnage begate an entire army of symbiotes, including two female ones, that were even more one-dimensional and useless than he. Carnage is what happens when marketing takes precedence over story telling. The Ultimate version of Carnage reinvents him while taking a piss on the character, which i find to be pretty ingenious.

why all this then?

well even 15 years since the debut of the character, many still find Carnage and Venom to be synonymous. that where one goes, the other follows. and since Venom will be in Spider-Man 3, i can't help but think that Carnage may peak around in Spider-Man 4. that could be the end of the franchise, at least in many people's interest in the franchise. i ran out of interest in Spider-Man right around Carnage's overexposure (the Clone Saga cemented my disinterest that remains to this day).

there is some potential amid all the baggage that is attached to the character, and hopefully should he appear in the live-action film series, the writer's craft a definitive version of the character, making him rise above being a stunt character, which is what he became.

wow i am a fucking geek.


Serpen Phlox said...
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Nick said...
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