Let There Be Carnage – A Brief Look Into The Early Keys

A few days ago, Sony unveiled the title to the next Venom movie that also got a new release date, pushed back do to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s a brief look at the early key books that define who this character is and where he originated from.

For those who know the history of Carnage already, I’m willing to bet there are a lot of people who think Carnage primarily starts off in Amazing Spider-Man #361, which is the front runner in terms of popularity, value and collectible by most.

Carnage is similar in nature like Venom, Carnage isn’t Carnage until it bonds. The first bond was with Cletus Kasady, a pyscho serial killer who ends up meeting Eddie Brock as his prison mate in Amazing Spider-Man #344, which is considered his first appearance and a bonus, first full appearance of Cardiac.

As you can see, they were setting up Cletus Kasady to be so much more from the very beginning in his first appearance.

Now, some will debate if the next issue is Carnage’s first actual appearance. Let’s review the panes from Amazing Spider-Man #345 where we see the next step in Cletus becoming the first host to what becomes Carnage.

Let’s take a closer look at the last few panes, where we see the Symbiote that got left behind dripping near Cletus’s hand, which is where it eventually enters his bloodstream through a cut in his hand, to become Carnage, a new bonded type of Symbiote, instead of bonding on the outside of the host.

In Amazing Spider-Man #359 there is also a one pane shot of Cletus and the symbiote to show that they’ve now bonded, it’s still doesn’t show Cletus fully transformed in what most would call Carnage though. Let the debates begin, but this is still a very brief cameo if you ask me.

Now we fast forward to Amazing Spider-Man #360, where we get a one page appearance with most describing as a cameo of Carnage.

Honestly I think Amazing Spider-Man #360 is an underrated appearance for Carnage. It shows him in more than one pane, he’s named and we get a glimpse of his face.

Now we all know Carnage kicks into high gear starting in Amazing Spider-Man #361 but with the new Venom movie now titled with Carnage as a major character, backed by Woody Harrelson who is a very popular actor, I think all these keys are great pickups if you don’t already have them.

So here are the Cletus Kasady/Carnage key books:

Amazing Spider-Man #344 – First Cletus Kasady
Amazing Spider-Man #345 – First Carnage Symbiote?? That’s up to debate but still key in the making of Carnage.

Amazing Spider-Man #359 – Cameo Appearance (Proves the Symbiote has bonded in Cletus Kasady’s blood)

Amazing Spider-Man #360 – First appearance of Carnage (Cameo)
Amazing Spider-Man #361 – First full appearance of Carnage (First Cover Appearance)

Which keys do you own? Which keys do you need? Discuss in the comments what your favorite Carnage and or Cletus Kasady story, cover or book is.


Editor Note: Added the new screenshot and inclusion of ASM #359 information as it was overlooked in the first publish.

13 thoughts on “Let There Be Carnage – A Brief Look Into The Early Keys”

  1. Own a CGC 9.6 of 361 and raw 362 (classic Venom/Carnage/spidey cover). Those are the only issues of interest in me. The others are not “slab worthy,” in my opinion. All about the cover.

    361 is just another example where first full appearance plus first cover beats out first cameo. Rare that doesn’t happen.

    1. Yeah, the cover appearance certainly helps 361 beat out 360. I still think 360 is underrated though, you can find for pretty cheap still.

      As for Cletus first.. yeah, covers aren’t badass or anything and 344 is the winner for his first, cause it’s definitely his first full, I like 345’s cover more than 344.

  2. I have a Amazing Spider-Man 361 2nd Print that I originally bought for $0.50 back when it had a cover price Wizard Value. My 1st printing of #361 is long destroyed. ASM #362 has the 1st Venom vs Carnage which could be important as well.

  3. I just sent in an ASM344 to CGC, hoping for a 9.8 to pair with my 9.8 ASM361.
    It’s been decades since I read the Carnage story and I am intrigued by that appearance in ASM360.

  4. lets not forget amazing Spiderman #359.it previews the cover to #361 on the last page.and is the true first of carnage.i also love the second print of#361with the silver ink.really looking forward to woody playing carnage #testify love you all blind adam out

    1. Some collect previews as firsts, some don’t. I’m not one of those collectors that are keen on previews since I see them as advertisements. They just don’t have the same appeal to me.

      But I’ve edited the article, since there’s still an actual brief cameo of Cletus and the Symbiote in the issue itself, pointed out by PhillyCheese.. which I totally forgot about that brief appearance when writing this up initially.

  5. Carnage’s first true cameo appearance was Amazing Spider-Man #359. The symbiote is shown coming out of Cletus Kasady, killing a guard. First indication that they bonded after issue #345

    You need to update this article.

    1. Added #359 screenshot and info. But some will debate if it’s actual Carnage first.. as that could be in #345. Marvel needs to clearly define if Carnage is indeed Carnage in Symbiote form or not, or is it the bond that makes it true, etc.

      ASM #359 is very brief and Cletus is still in human form, just shows that the symbiote is now in his blood stream, since it’s no longer black but mixed red and black. Either way, book is still dirt cheap for those looking to add to the collection.

  6. I own every issue from 100 to 800 in NM condition so when it comes to Venom and Carnage keys… I’m good.

    Did sell my copy of Maximum Carnage from akklaim and regret ever since… That’s the only Carnage key I would say I am missing.

    But hey, needed a new phone.

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