Carnage spawned some of the scariest ghosts in the Marvel Universe
As the Holocaust symbiote wreaked havoc across the universe, Cletus Casady's Klinta memories were turning San Estes into a house of horrors.
Warning: Spoilers for Carnage #8 ahead!
The memory of Cletus Kasady (the original host of the Carnage symbiote) has long haunted the Marvel Universe, but never before has it truly been the franchise's scariest ghost. After finding a home among the eerie ruins of St. Estorp's Orphanage, a serial killer's psychic imprint turns the abandoned building into a haunted house, bringing Shadow House to shame. While not technically a supernatural threat, Cletus' memories arguably create a more terrifying haunting than Marvel's real ghosts can ever do.
The ruins of St. Estes, the childhood home of Cletus Kasady (who later burned it down), has long been one of Marvel's New York flops. As the location of Carnage's original fight with Spider-Man, in 2022's Carnage Forever #1, Philip Kennedy Johnson and Edgar Salazar show the symbiote returning to the destroyed building, freeing itself from Cletus' body, But fully absorbing his memories and personality. Since then, the Carnage series has largely ignored St. Estes, instead following Carnage as he seeks out specific individuals in the Marvel Universe to absorb their powers.
Carnage #8 by Ram V, Rogê Antônio, Erick Arciniega and Joe Sabino is finally back in St. Estes, following doomed Internet personality Scott Rawson as he livestreams his journey through the so-called haunted house . The scare starts out small and conventional (the room doesn't match the exterior, cryptic writing on the wall) but quickly becomes personal and horrific as Scott is forced to cut off his own flesh to move on, and face The rotting body of his ghastly phantom father feasts on a sculpted face. It's all based on a confrontation with the memory of Cletus Kasady, luring Scott to explore further, and ending with Scott dying or catatonic at Cletus' feet along with the other victims.
Carnage Has Turned St. Estes Into a Haunted House
How does Cletus maintain a presence in St. Estes? It turns out that when he first returned to the building as Carnage, he left some of himself behind: as he puts it, "When I came back with new skin, new armor, I was with this place Melting into one. I am this house and this house is me." Now knowing how the Symbiote hive mind stores the host's collective memory, and the red tendrils that Cletus displayed in his confrontation with Scott, it seems he has enough Infuse the house with his memory and personality - in other words, a lingering ghost.
As for the haunting itself, Cletus' work is a masterwork of horror, with some clever interpretations in-universe via the symbiont hive mind. By first claiming a piece of meat from his victims, Cletus can absorb their memories through what he feeds, tuning the rest of the house to draw them deeper through their fears and insecurities. When Scott is completely surrounded by Cletus' web, the house has expanded into an M.C. Escher-like universe, a myriad of universes made up of Cletus' mind and his inescapable prey. New York has long been haunted by the ghost of the Holocaust's first master, but never has it been more real -- or terrifying -- than it is now.
Carnage #8 is now available from Marvel Comics.