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Abandoned Love: So Is Carnage Still the “Spawn” of Venom or What?

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Every installment of Abandoned Love we will be examining comic book stories, plots and ideas that were abandoned by a later writer without explaining that the previous story was retconned away. Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of Abandoned Love. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Inspired by an Abandoned Love a few weeks back about how Black Cat suddenly forgot who Venom was despite him nearly killing her in battle before, commenter PM Agria suggested another case of a dropped plot involving Venom and Carnage, something a lot more notable – you see, Carnage isn’t actually the spawn of Venom anymore! Or, well, he SHOULDN’T be the spawn of Venom, but people have just dropped that plot…

Introduced in full in Amazing Spider-Man #361 (by David Michelinie, Mark Bagley and Randy Emberlin), Carnage was a new symbiote-based villain…


The idea was for Marvel to slowly have Venom become sort of anti-hero, and with him taking on that anti-hero role, they would have Carnage become the new VILLAIN villain.

In Amazing Spider-Man #362, they confirm that Carnage is the spawn of Venom (and yes, I imagine the use of the word “spawn” was intentional)…



So that was the status quo for years. Venom was the “father” and Carnage was the “son.”

That is, until Peter Parker: Spider-Man #10 (by Howard Mackie, John Romita Jr. and Scott Hanna), when Venom re-absorbed Carnage into himself…




And ta da! No more Carnage!

A couple of issues later, in Peter Parker: Spider-Man #13 (by Mackie, Lee Weeks and Robert Campanella), Spidey fights a symbiote-less Cletus Kassaday, who is still calling himself Carnage and has just soaked himself in other people’s blood (but mostly red paint)…



This was the case until 2000’s Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man #14, by Howard Mackie, Graham Nolan and Scott Koblish. You will never guess how Carnage returns! Read on to the next page to discover the silliness…

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I never liked the idea in the original Carnage story that Peter needs Venom’s help to go after Carnage- he’s got Johnny right with him. Carnage’s weakness is FIRE.

So, is Carnage Venom poo, or spoo, if you get my drift?

soi what was the original plot going to be after venom absorbed carnage?

If you need a more reliable source than Flash Thompson, Eddie Brock and Cletus Kasady themselves still refer to each other as father and son in the new Carnage series by Gerry Conway.

So is it a Comics Code thing or just laziness that when Cletus is covered in blood he looks completely normal, but red? I’m pretty sure there’s more to being completely soaked in blood than just looking more red than ususal.

My highly scientific and reliable source on this is the movie The Descent.

“soi what was the original plot going to be after venom absorbed carnage?”

I’m not sure if you were reading Spider-Man comics around that time, but there was the distinct impression that they barely planned ahead to the end of the issue, never mind months in advance.

I think this might be a case of the later writers not knowing about the stories changing the status quo or not giving a flying blank enough to do the homework to see if there had been any changes in these things, tho in this case people see venom and carnage floating around so its understandable I guess to not wonder if anything like that had changed… but the story with black cat not remembering she ran into venom and carnage is a huge example of the writers not doing their homework. Thats too big a thing storywise not to look into, probably unlike this symbiote parantage thing…

Well, he did have to search for the hidden symbiote, that’s a perfect story as far as comic book plots go… I’ve seen much worse. As for the symbiote being an exact duplicate of Carnage, Kletus did have part of the original in him, so it could have overpowered the symbiote, killed its consciousness and for all intents and purposes, transformed it into a second Carnage that would naturally think of himself as simply Carnage. And Venom would acknowledge it as such.

Huh. Thanks for the research. I had completely dropped Spidey during Mackie’s run and had no idea that turn of events happened. When I started reading again, every comic referred to Carnage as Venom’s spawn.

Kasady isn’t soaked in blood in PP:SM #13 – it’s paint. A couple pages earlier, we see him busting into a hardware store and coating himself in red paint.

@ Rob London

I was going to say that when you posted it – it’s really red paint (I think there may be blood from the victims too, but most of the painting came from red paint).

@ Inner Circle

I disagree… when Venom absorbed his spawn, it was meant to be the whole Carnage symbiote. Okay, some hidden portion of the symbiote could remain in Kasady’s bloodstream, but this possibility was never addressed. And yeah, right, Kasady could “dominate and conform” the new symbiote to be a new Carnage… but, again, this possibility was never addressed and, even though, if it was the case, it wouldn’t be Venom’s spawn likewise anymore.

A great difference between Venom and Carnage symbiotes was that Carnage was a symbiote that fused itself to Kasady’s bloodstream – so it wouldn’t be easy to be free of it. But Venom did it, maybe by being the “parent”.

Anyway, considering such blood feature, it could be said that particles of Carnage symbiote could be hidden in Kasady’s bone marrow (one of the places where blood cells are made)… but, once more, this possibility was never addressed. And the handbooks don’t explain this glitch too. Just ignored it.

Laurence J Sinclair

January 31, 2016 at 11:52 am

“Not that Brock knows I’m alive” should be “NOW that Brock knows I’m alive”, right?

I remember this era of Spider-man: there were waaaaaaaaay too many plot points going nowhere or ridicolously overturned. This was one of them – why did Venom eat the Carnage symbiote when they did not have any plans for Casady afterwards and the same writer just made him found an exact symbiote 2 months later?
However, even if this story looks like really bad there were much worse plot lines, for example the one about the ongoing mystery of Senator Ward or the “death” of Mysterio or the stalker and apparent murderer of Mary Jane that just seemed to go nowhere and were at the end resolved in a really poor and contradictory way (to give way to JMS’s arrival).
I have read an interview with Mackie where he stated that editorial did not let him finish these story lines as originally planned – but c’mon they were going on for like 2.5 years and there was no sight of any normal resolution. The clone saga was a really interesting and coherent period in comparison to this ongoing BS.
The continuity light approach of JMS afterwards was a real blessing for me afterwards, for a while it really revitalized Amazing Spider-man.

Did they ever explain how Kassady regrew the lower half of his body after Sentry ripped him in half?
They acknowledged/addressed it for awhile because there was a kind of symbolism in having FlashVenom vs Carnage in that both were “amputees” of a sort.
But after awhile Cletus was back to normal with no mention he was only half a man and Carnage was creating the lower half.

Yeah, Rollo, I was wondering about Carnage being torn in half and left in space by the Sentry as well. Symbiote or not, that shouldn’t be something someone walks away from! (Not even all-powerful Wolverine.)

Zeb Wells did a couple of limited series in 2011-2012, they did explain what happened after the Sentry incident.

The Mackie stuff was never explained. It’s a poor concept to begin with. If Venom could simply re-absorb the Carnage symbiote, why didn’t he ever do so before?

And am I mistaken in thinking that Venom’s visit to Cletus in jail is also the latter’s first appearance after the Silver Surfer bound him in a cosmic power prison ‘forever’?

interesting for always found the carnage is now an offspring of venom interesting for after all what is to say the symbiote does not spawn for till it got changed to nope he is not it makes venom and carnage riverly almost like wolverines and sabertooh . though either way carnage is another marvel baddie who one should consider marvels joker on acid

And what NONE of these people have mentioned is that the Carnage symbiote itself died in its first battle.

In Maximum Carnage they say that the symbiote itself is dead, but it mutated Cassady so that he can generate “a dead ringer” from his bloodstream.

Which means, ironically enough, that the incredibly lame convenience of Cassady finding a new symbiote actually unwittingly corrects a plot hole for future writers who don’t do their research.

It’s all convoluted enough as it is, but my head really hurts when I try to fit it and other symbiote history – Secret Wars, Venom’s (i.e. Brock+symbiote) origin, Planet of the Symbiotes – with the current ‘it was supposed to be this way all along’ gooey spaceknight thing.

Does it mean Carnage and Toxin can be given space-electrotherapy and turned into quiescent, obedient spacecop uniforms? Does it mean that whoever created these things for law, order and justice just didn’t notice that there was a whole planet/culture/empire of imbalanced, malicious specimens of their biosuits running around?

Or does it mean comic writers can’t create a decent heel-face turn without turning the entire nature of a character on it’s head, combined with some kind of mad bandwagon of sticking things in space to go with all those bloody raccoons and ents?

Does it mean Carnage and Toxin can be given space-electrotherapy and turned into quiescent, obedient spacecop uniforms?

That’s not Venom Spaceknight’s set-up, is it? Didn’t they just give him a new symbiote?

It should be impossible to separate the symbiote from Cletus, as it’s in his very own bloodstream. A way of explaining this problem and the bizarrity of Cletus randomly finding a new symbiote identical to his old one is saying that after he “lost” the symbiote, there was still some symbiote inside him, but not enough to produce a full symbiote suit. What he found in the Negative Zone wasn’t another symbiote, but something that regenerated the symbiote from his blood upon coming in cintact with him. Or maybe another it was symbiote that mixed with the symbiote in his blood, but since the Carnage symbiote was dominant, the new symbiote got “absorbed” into it.

Kasady isn’t soaked in blood in PP:SM #13 – it’s paint. A couple pages earlier, we see him busting into a hardware store and coating himself in red paint.

I think he has blood mixed in there, too, but yes, you’re right, it is mostly paint. I’ll edit that in there! Thanks!

Another recent related Abandoned But Maybe Not And Maybe Explained But I Missed It: when and how did Cletus get his legs back? I know he had robo-legs for a bit, but I think recently (Carnage USA? Maybe after that…) I remembered seeing him drawn sans-symbiote with an intact human bottom half.

I get the easy answer of the symbiote making legs, but they made a point for a while to NOT do that, even going so far as the cyborg angle.

That’s not Venom Spaceknight’s set-up, is it?


Didn’t they just give him a new symbiote?


Huh. How about that. I read those issues back in the day (and like Toozin said, they were so poorly plotted that saying so is one of the nicer things you could say about the Chapter One era) and I completely forgot about the Negative Zone symbiote. And I’m a huge nerd for minutia like that.

If you want a no-prize you could say that they’re just referencing the existing relationships and not their current literal connection. That’s about as good an answer as you’d get since no one else could possibly care to come up with anything else.

Frankly, I’m more annoyed that folks forget Kasady has robot legs than this bit.

Have a good day.
G Morrow

Wasn’t Webspinners supposed to be a series a la Legends of the Dark Knight, where it wasn’t exactly continuity … tight, I suppose? Although that wouldn’t explain how he got the symbiote back from Venom…

And is a symbiote a real sort of thing, or is it just comic booky science?


Symbiosis does exist in nature, but obviously Venom is a very comic booky version of it.

The term Symbiote was coined by mistake by Hal Clement for his scifi novel Needle, he only realized his Latin mistake after it was printed, it should have been Symbiont, and much to his chagrin the novel did well and the term has stuck no matter how much he tried to correct it. He told in the foreword to the sequel how he got some gentle ribbing from his fellow teachers over it.
I’ve wondered how exactly Clement’s novel Needle possibly influenced the creation of the Alien costume story, weirdly enough the Carnage symbiote bonding internally with Cletus Kasidy is closer to the relationship that was in the novel as the symbiote in the book hid inside a child’s body, and I don’t know if it is intentional or just a quirk of fate but if the idea now being pushed in the Venom series is that the Symbiotes were intended for law enforcement as a biosuit it would be a reverse concept from the novel as it was the Symbiote that was a law enforcement officer who would enter into a host body, usually a non-sentient creature, to ‘wear’ on it’s missions.

Wasn’t Webspinners supposed to be a series a la Legends of the Dark Knight, where it wasn’t exactly continuity … tight, I suppose? Although that wouldn’t explain how he got the symbiote back from Venom…

Whatever the original intention, a couple of the series wound up being referenced elsewhere, much as with LotDK..

David –

Interestingly, we Brazilians use the correct term in Portuguese. Simbionte.

Were some posts deleted? I remember responding to a small discussion into a different tangent yesterday.

I’ll just say again that I always thought Mackie’s initial idea here, whatever he meant to do, was flawed to begin with. If Venom could simply (re-)absorb the Carnage symbiote, why did he never do so before?
A simple explanation of ‘the special prison cell specifically configurated for Carnage weakened him and made it possible for Venom to do this’ would have sufficed.

There’s also no mentions whatsoever of the (if I recall correctly) preceding two appearances of Carnage. During the Ben Reilly era, it was revealed that Cletus could not survive anymore without the symbiote, which kept the cancer he’d developed in check. Later, he’d been “permanently” imprisoned with the Power Cosmic by the Silver Surfer.

And let’s not speak of the many times when Eddie Brock or Cletus Kasady were permanently bonded with their symbiotes, never to be separated again (until the next storyline).

Oh yeah, and Carnage was said to be vampiric in the first issue of New Avengers.

Is there a no-prize to be found in the fact that symbiotes are constantly mutating and adapting to situations, which means that every occurrance may conflict with anything we knew about them beforehand?

I think this is easy enough to no-prize. He just got back the original sometime off-panel. (Maybe combined with the Negative Zone one, which is perhaps how he becomes so regenerative and vampiric in the New Avengers arc.) Or, Carnage is still the offspring of Venom in that Cletus is only Carnage because of Venom–without their time together and without exposure to a symbiote already, he wouldn’t be the way he is.

Howard Mackie has admitted many times that he doesn’t care for continuity. He just likes to tell his story and that’s it. He hates coming up with explenations and at most he just referenced a past storyline/problem without solving it (one of the biggest examples has to do with Carnage too and his previous storyline before Venom ate up his symbiote but I won’t mention it in the comments, unless Brian’s already done it and I’ve missed it).
Add to that the editors that are always in a hurry to move forward and not get bogged down by past stories (ah, Mark Gruenwald, I miss you) and there you have it. Actually, Mackie likes to blame the editors and he would be partly right but I agree with the commenters here that he had a long run and many chances to solve his own storylines.

Kinda weird that the same writer that created Carnage’s demise brought him back for some un-related reason.

How the hell did Kasady get out of prison without Carnage powers? Was it open-doors day at Arkham again?

@ PM Agria: I know they did not think it trough, but if I wanted a No-Prize, I’d explain in this way :)

@ Valentijn: I looked it up for you in the Great Marvelese-English Dictionary.
“Permanently”; (1) until somebody decides differently (2) until a writer comes around who has no idea (3) done in a way that enables the letterer to write stuff in real menacing bold and the penciler to draw wide open eyes

How is Casady fighting Spider-Man in the panels where has the red paint covering? Even the little bit he’s doing seems to be too much for a nonpowered, untrained combatant.

@ Inner Circle – nicely worded!
I am reminded of a scene in Dan Slott’s She-Hulk, wherein she asks Mr. Fantastic how come he told her earlier that she could not change back to Jennifer Walters anymore, yet she eventually could. The Thing cuts in to mock Reed, asking if he dramatically said it like ‘I’m sorry old friend, I’m afraid you’re going to be stuck in this form – forever!’ (something to that extent), as he had heard the same thing over and over again.
Dan Slott did a lot of cool things like that in the series, there’s another great bit where people in a comic book store complain about continuity issues & are then encouraged to come up with (no-prize) explanations instead.

“Later, he’d been “permanently” imprisoned with the Power Cosmic by the Silver Surfer.”

That story has what I would assume is a rare, if not singular, distinction of having been referenced more often in “What If?” than it was ever referenced in actual continuity. I mean, it’s one-nil, but still.

“How the hell did Kasady get out of prison without Carnage powers? Was it open-doors day at Arkham again?”

He’s being transported, and there is a truck crash. I believe it happens off-panel, so you can decide for yourself whether it’s the old “killer escapes and kills ambulance drivers” or he just got really lucky; either way, it’s pretty hacky.

I’m surprised they haven’t revealed that the Venom symbiote is actually the “father” of all the symbiotes.

And Magneto is his father in turn.

Seems an easy noprize, some time off panel either venom or carnage had an adventure in the negative zone and left a sample behind. That’s what the found so ‘new carnage’ just has a regrown version of old carnage.

There I just gave carnage more thought than he ever got from me before.

Bad writing to get Carnage to come back. If he got a new symbiote, it should’ve been a new color or design. Kasaday makes part of Carnage, but the symbiote also makes Carnage what it is, because it has that memory of Spider-man and Venom.

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