Once upon a time, I liked Carnage. Not like I rooted for him, but that he was a cool, extreme villain, and therefore awesome. It was the early '90s, I was younger, and considerably dumber. Still, there is one purpose Carnage served that I still find interesting, to a limited extent.
In Spider-Man Unlimited #2, we have reached the final chapter of the Maximum Carnage saga, where Carnage and a bunch of other extreme villains have killed lots of people and whomped on third-string heroes because the big guns were otherwise occupied for one reason or another. Carnage is feeling shaky after being blasted with a Magna-Illuminizer (spelling?), essentially a "happy feelings" gun. I'm not kidding. Suffice it to say, happy feelings freaked Carnage the hell out, and he starts running over the city, moving to places of significance farther and farther back in his past, with an angry Venom and a busted up Spidey on his tail.
Unsurprisingly, Venom wants Carnage dead, Spidey wants him captured. The two end up fighting it out in the orphanage where Cletus Kasady grew up (While Carnage fled. Way to go, guys). Venom keeps insisting that Carnage must die, while Spidey mocks him for obsessing. Venom says that he must stop Carnage because the symbiote came from him, thus Carnage is his responsibility, every innocent Kasady hurts is on his head. Spidey responds that he understands, because that's how he feels about Venom. Venom is, of course, flabbergasted by this, because he 'protects the innocent!', leading Spidey to think about how from where he stands, there's only a thin line of sanity between Venom and Carnage. And that was the idea that intrigued me.
I started thinking about how Venom is Spider-Man, if viewed in a funhouse mirror. Visually, Venom is a hyper-muscled Spider-Man. The black costume that could be quite intimidating, has been made frightening with the addition of that tongue, the claws, and the huge pointy teeth. At that time, they both wanted to protect, but Venom was willing (eager) to kill, while Spider-Man wouldn't even have killed a man he despised (Norman Osborn), let alone random criminals. Peter takes responsibility for the death of his uncle, because he didn't capture the thief who later shot Ben, the action which shaped the hero he became. Conversely, Eddie became Venom precisely because he doesn't take responsibility for his own failings. It's Spider-Man's fault for making Brock's life a mess, because Spidey captured the real Sin-Eater, exposing the one Brock had exclusive interviews with as a fake.
Oddly, since becoming Venom, Brock did develop a since of responsibility, often making sure no bystanders were caught in his attempts to kill Spider-Man, but still he blames Spidey for his mistakes. They're both still hung up on a past event, but it drives Peter to be a better hero, to not let others suffer because he doesn't act. Brock is still too fixated on blaming Spider-Man, to get to a point where maybe he can focus more on the "protector" part of "Lethal Protector". Even when he made a truce with Spidey, it doesn't seem to be because he's stopped blaming Spider-Man, so much as he finally realized that Spider-Man does protect the innocent, and so killing him would be bad. That qualifies as progress, but it's questionable how far Brock can move forward if he's always blaming another for his failings. It makes it easy to fall back on that excuse when other things go wrong.
Carnage seemed to be like looking at the reflection in a funhouse mirror, reflected in another funhouse mirror. The symbiote looks less like a costume, more like an actual living being, with loose flowing strands moving about at all times. It can morph it all manners of blades and projectiles, something Venom showed no ability for (beyond making webbing). The colors shift, back a little more towards Spider-Man's red costume, but with black still playing a part. The black in the symbiote could almost be seen as the web pattern from the red-and-blue costume, warped into a series of random lines. Additionally, Carnage seems to be Venom with no morals whatsoever. Whereas Venom simply lacks mercy for criminals and Spider-Man, Carnage possesses no mercy, period. He kills everyone, indiscriminately, reveling in how high he can pile the bodies. He doesn't concern himself with whether people intervene in his slaughter, because he would kill those people eventually, anyway.
Whereas Peter lost his parents on a super-secret spy mission early in life, but had Uncle Ben and Aunt May to love him, and Eddie Brock lost his mother, and was left with a demanding, unsupportive father, Kasady had a mother killed by his father, and possibly a grandmother that he killed (apparently he likes to change up the story he tells the shrinks from one time to the next). From a situation where the loss of loving parents was mitigated by loving relatives, it just went downhill as we pass through the mirrors from one character to the next.
That was pretty much the extent of my interest in Carnage, as someone whose existence and activities troubled Venom, as much as Venom troubled Spidey. Characters that can make the protagonist question how far apart they really are can be kind of fun, in limited doses. Unfortunately, Marvel kind of went overboard on Carnage, and I'm left thinking he would have been better off as a one-shot villain, maybe someone to convince Venom to tone himself down.