Carnage is pure 90’s comics meets Spider-Man, the byproduct of the ever popular Venom symbiote leaking into a serial killer’s open wound. Carnage, aka Kletus Casaday, is one of the bloodiest and most horrifying villains in Spidey’s rogue’s gallery, encompassing the dark history of serial killers inside one superpowered weaponized body.
Although both Carnage and the mega-crossover Maximum Carnage exude 90’s aesthetics (see: blood red symbiote violence oozing across the edges of every panel), the character has a variety of renewals throughout the 2000’s, from his time taking over small-town America in Carnage U.S.A. to 2019’s event, Absolute Carnage.
Related Reading Orders:
Below you’ll find a complete reading order for Carnage comics throughout Marvel’s history, from his origins to today. I’ve noted my personal favorites with the Comic Book Herald logo next to the series name.
Origins of Carnage (90’s Comics)
Collects: Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 361-363
Collects: Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #378-380, Spectacular Spider-Man #201-203, Spider-Man #35-37, Spider-Man Unlimited #1 And #2, And Web Of Spider-Man #101-103
For the full guide, check out Comic Book Herald’s Maximum Carnage reading order.
Collects: Check out the full Comic Book Herald Clone Saga reading order!
You don’t necessarily have to read the entire Clone Saga purely for Carnage comics, but if you’re in for the real long haul, “Clone Saga” takes over anything Spider-Man related for a good long stretch, including the role of Carnage.
Collects: Venom: Carnage Unleashed 1-4, Venom: Sinner Takes All 1-5; Material From Amazing Spider-Man Super Special, Spiderman Super Special, Venom Super Special, Spectacular Spider-Man Super Special, Web Of Spider-Man Super Special
The “Super Specials” in this collected edition combine for the “Planet of the Symbiotes” arc, which should be read as follows:
- Amazing Spider-Man Super Special #1
- Spider-Man Super Special #1
- Venom Super Special #1
- Spectacular Spider-Man Super Special #1
- Web of Spider-Man Super Special #1
Collects: Carnage: Mind Bomb; Amazing Spider-Man #410, Sensational Spider-Man (1996) 3; Spider-Man (1990) 67; Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) 233; Carnage: It’s A Wonderful Life; Amazing Spider-Man #430-431; Peter Parker: Spider-Man (1999) 13; Webspinners: Tales Of Spider-Man 13-14
I’ve ordered the “Carnage Classic” issues above into the chronological order they should be read!
“Mind Bomb” in particular is pretty fascinating as the issue is written by all time comics great Warren Ellis, relatively early in Ellis’ superhero comics writing career. The issues details a rogue psychiatrist’s efforts to unravel the mind of Kletus Casaday inside Ravencroft Asylum.
This one-shot team-up between DC and Marvel’s biggest heroes actually focuses the most on Joker and Carnage, the issue’s titular “Disordered Minds.”
Carnage Enters the 2000’s
Collects: Amazing Spider-Man (1999) 7-12; Peter Parker Spider-Man 7-12, Annual ’99
Collects: Venom Vs Carnage #1 To #4
Collects: New Avengers #1 To #6
Collects: Venom Vs. Carnage 1-4; Carnage (2010) 1-5; Carnage U.S.A. 1-5; Minimum Carnage: Alpha, Omega
As you’ll see, the “Carnage Omnibus” edition overlaps with a number of additional TPBs on this list. You don’t have to read both – nonetheless, if you’re opting for the Carnage Omnibus experience, this is the place to read it.
Collects: Carnage #1-5
Collects: Carnage USA #1-5
Collects: Minimum Carnage: Alpha #1; Scarlet Spider #10-12, Venom (2011) #26-27, Minimum Carnage: Omega #1
Collects: Superior Carnage 1-5
If the “Superior” branding seems familiar, it’s because Superior Carnage occurs during the era of Superior Spider-Man, and does feature the first meeting between Carnage and this superior webslinger.
Collects: Deadpool Vs. Carnage 1-4, Superior Carnage Annual 1
Collects: Axis: Hobgoblin 1-3, Axis: Carnage 1-3
For the full event context, check out Comic Book Herald’s Axis reading order.
I wasn’t a big fan of Axis overall, but the Carnage-turned-good miniseries worked surprisingly well for me.
Collects: Carnage 1-5, All-New, All-Different Point One 1 (Carnage Story)
Collects: Carnage 6-10
Collects: Carnage 11-16
The Road to Absolute Carnage
Collects: Venomized 1-5
Collects: Amazing Spider-Man 794-801, Annual 42
Collects: Venom (2018) 1-6
The road to Absolute Carnage begins here!
Collects: Venom #7 to #12
Collects: Web Of Venom: Ve’Nam 1, Web Of Venom: Carnage Born 1, Web Of Venom: Venom Unleashed, Web Of Venom: Cult Of Carnage 1
Collects: Absolute Carnage #1 To #6
For more detail, including the exact “Road to” reading order, check out Comic Book Herald’s Absolute Carnage reading order.