Some people are just born bad, and no matter how you try to reform them it’s a lost cause. One of superhero comics’ biggest examples of this is the evil symbiote Carnage. Anti-hero? Rather like “ain’t a hero,” if you ask writer Cullen Bunn. The Sixth Gun writer will be reteaming with his Venomartist Kim Jacinto on a new standalone story for Cletus Kasady and the red-streaked symbiote this February titled Superior Carnage Annual #1. And Bunn promises a “return to form,” mixing Silence of the Lambs with Jaws as an unrepentant killer going after all in his wake.
The last time we’ve seen Carnage in comics, the symbiote was locked in government quarantine and Kasady was on the receiving end of a lobotomy for the bloody crime spree he made across the Marvel U. In Superior Carnage Annual #1, Kasady and the symbiote find a way to reunite and make up for lost time and return to being what Marvel calls their “deadliest killer.”
Newsarama: Cullen, what can you tell us about this Superior Carnage Annual #1 one-shot story coming in February?
Cullen Bunn: This will be a return to form (of sorts) for Carnage. He’s strayed a bit from his “mission statement” over the years, but this will be his chance to refocus on the things he loves most—killing fools…
…and sensible people…
…and little old ladies who need help crossing the street… and heroes… and other villains… and anyone else who catches his eye.
In order to get to that point, though, the Carnage symbiote needs to find a host that’s suitable to its purposes. This annual is a horror story following the symbiote’s quest to escape captivity and find a new host… and Cletus Kasady’s struggle to live without his other half.
Nrama: We’ve seen Cletus Kasady in prison before – I think his first appearance had him behind bars, but he broke loose thanks to the Carnage symbiote. What’s he doing here as the series opens?
Bunn: Cletus is—once again—cooling his heels in prison. He’s been separated from the symbiote, though, and there are those who believe that he’s been given a new lease on life. There are those who want to see Cletus rehabilitated. There are also those who want to see him dead.
One of those two factions will get their wish.
Nrama: The solicits say Cletus has been through the wringer in prison, even mentioning a lobotomy. What’s he gone through?
Bunn: Well, since bonding with the symbiote and embarking on a life of supervillainy, Cletus has been studied and poked and prodded, ripped in half, given with robotic legs, cloned, ascended to near godhood, and lobotomized. When we last saw him, though, he was starting to heal from the damage Scarlet Spider inflicted on him. But his darkest day is still ahead of him, and the symbiote is not there to help him.
Nrama: People think of comics as a hero vs. villain type of thing, but with Carnage as the lead character here it kind of flips the tables. Is Carnage a hero or villain? And no matter which side of the law he’s on, who is he against in trying to get his way?
Bunn: I’ve actually gotten more than a couple of messages and e-mails asking me to cast Carnage in at least somewhat of a heroic light.
I’ll go on record.
That ain’t happening.
Carnage is the villain. He’s a vicious, cruel, sadistic, murderous chaos-worshipper. He’s not going to be saving kittens from trees… unless he then eats said kitten.
Nrama: And this isn’t your first time writing Carnage; you wrote him in the excellent “Minimum Carnage” crossover between Venom and Scarlet Spider awhile back. What draws you to a character like Carnage?
Bunn: I’m a long-time fan of horror fiction. For me, Carnage is one of the Marvel Universe’s truest horror characters. Look, I love Werewolf By Night and Ghost Rider and Marvel’s Dracula and Man-Thing… but when it comes to being a pure engine of horror, Carnage has them all beat.
Nrama: And in a world of over the top heroes, villains and entities, what’s your perspective on Carnage – how does he fit into the Marvel U?
Bunn:I like this question… because it dovetails into a lot of what I have planned for Carnage. I think he’s been trying to too hard to fit in. Carnage started out as a killer who went on random rampages. But in the Marvel Universe, you have villains with big megalomaniacal plans. They want to take over the world! In recent years, Carnage started going in that direction. He took over towns! He tried to conquer entire universes! And where did that get him?
Now, Carnage is going to go back to what he loves best—chaos. He’s an agent of senseless terror in the Marvel Universe.
Nrama: Working with you on this is artist Kim Jacinto, who did several issues of Venom with you not too long ago. What’s it like having someone you know, especially Kim, taking your story on and turning it into a comic?
Bunn: When I heard that Kim would be tackling this issue, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. He draws amazingly gritty, nasty, scary symbiotes. And that’s exactly what was need for this kind of horror yarn.