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Quiet! You want to know who I am, host? Let me show you. I am Knull. Lord of the Abyss. God of the Symbiotes.
~ Knull introducing himself to Eddie Brock.
You have a piece of me inside of you, host. You think this makes you stronger. Gives you a chance. That I cannot control you. But I do not have to control you to rob you of what I want. You are nothing. Your Symbiote is mine! I will be free!
~ Knull fighting Venom.
Knull, also known as the God of the Symbiotes, is a major antagonist in the Marvel Comics universe and an enemy of the anti-hero Venom. He is an ancient malevolent deity who was responsible for the creation of the Symbiote race. He seeks to expand the darkness all across the universe by conquering, destroying and corrupting every life form he comes across. He served as the main antagonist of the first story arc of the Venom comic book series by Donny Cates.
Knull's existence predates the universe itself. When the Celestials began creating the universe, Knull retaliated by creating a living blade, All-Black the Necrosword, from his shadow and decapitated one of them. Cast back into the void by the other Celestials, Knull used the slain Celestial's severed head as a forge to temper his symbiote-sword in its cosmic energies. Intent on devouring the divine light that had usurped his kingdom of darkness, Knull manifested a symbiotic suit of armour from the eldritch darkness he commanded and embarked on a genocide against the other gods.
However, Knull was badly wounded in combat and crash-landed on a desolate planet, where the Necrosword was stolen by one of the indigenous inhabitants named Gorr. Despite this setback, Knull created an army of symbiotes and used them to conquer planets and devour entire civilizations. However, when a dragon-like composite symbiote named the Grendel under Knull's control arrived on Earth and was defeated by Thor, the deity's connection to the symbiotes was severed - trapping his consciousness in the Grendel's body. The symbiotes were freed from his control, the hive-mind becoming tainted with notions of honor and nobility as they bonded to benevolent hosts — eventually forming an order known as the Agents of the Cosmos. The symbiotes subsequently rebelled against their god, imprisoning him at the heart of an artificial planet they called Klyntar - their word for "cage".
Centuries later, Grendel was unearthed by S.H.I.E.L.D. and its biomass was used to create a super-soldier initiative called the Sym-Soldier Program. Slowly awakening, Knull began attempting to assert his influence over the symbiote-dragon's offshoots, driving their hosts insane. Seizing control of the symbiote-dragon, Knull sent it on a rampage through downtown Manhattan, but was stopped by the combined efforts of Venom and Spider-Man. Using Grendel's biomass to manifest an avatar of his true form, Knull stripped the Venom symbiote from its host and purged it of the benevolence and compassion it had obtained during its time on Earth. When confronted by Eddie Brock, Knull showed him the true origins and history of the symbiotes; mocking him for believing the lies told to the Venom symbiote by the Klyntar hive-mind. Reforming Grendel around his avatar, Eddie, and Spider-Man; Knull flew into space and revealed his plan to obtain the missing pieces of the symbiote-dragon, use it to free his true body from Klyntar, and resume his conquest of the universe - starting with Earth.
When the Tyrannosaurus symbiote - the last remaining piece of the Grendel symbiote - reconnected to the hive mind, Knull attacked using the Grendel symbiote and attempted to devour Venom. When Grendel was destabilized by sonic grenades, Knull's manifestation engaged Venom in a brutal one-on-one battle, Venom's arsenal of high-tech weapons proving ineffective. Knull stripped Eddie of both symbiotes, but his gloating was cut short when Eddie detonated the entire arsenal - the blast affecting even Knull's real body. Shaken and enraged, Knull coated his manifestation in the Grendel symbiote, but before he could attack, the Tyrannosaurus symbiote coiled around his avatar and dragged it into the heart of the blast furnace - telling Venom to hold the door shut. With Knull's avatar subsequently immolated, his connection to the Grendel symbiote severed with its death, and therefore his body remaining sealed at the heart of Klyntar.
A few months later, an Earth-based cult led by Scorn that is dedicated to worshiping Knull had obtained a sample of the Grendel symbiote and Cletus Kasady's body, intending on turning him in to Knull's new avatar and facilitate his awakening. When the sample bonded to Cletus, Knull physically communicated with the serial killer in his attempt to take control of him with the symbiote; though the nature of their conversation is unknown. Kasady resists Knull's control and their connection was severed when the Grendel symbiote absorbed a codex - which were trace remnants of living abyss in former hosts - that the Carnage symbiote had left in Scorn's body. Afterwards, Kasady desired to communicate with Knull again and decided to help free him by collecting enough codexes to reconnect the Grendel symbiote to the Hive Mind.
An ancient malevolent deity, Knull despises the Celestials and their creations, attempting to carry out a genocide against them. Through his symbiote army, Knull is responsible for the destruction and corruption of entire civilizations across the universe. While on Earth, he appeared calm and condescending, only smiling at the sight of Venom's berserk form and reacting with rage when Eddie tried to stop him from re-corrupting the Venom symbiote. Knull was begrudgingly impressed by Eddie's determination to understand the eldritch truth behind the symbiotes' origins, but mocked him for being deceived by the Klyntar hive-mind. He considers the symbiotes who rebelled against him and imprisoned him to be cowards, liars, and traitors, while sneering at their desperate efforts to cover up their dark origins and keep themselves from relapsing.
Powers and Abilities
Divine Physiology: A primordial god of darkness, Knull possesses superhuman attributes and powers exceeding far beyond those of humans and even most other deities. As the creator of All-Black the Necrosword, he likely possesses the same powers it bestows upon its host.
Amortality: Knull has existed for at least 13.7 billion years, having come into existence prior to the beginning of the universe itself; before the genesis of such concepts as life and death. As such, being impaled through the head and falling from space to the surface of a planet incapacitated him, but failed to kill him.
Superhuman Strength: Knull is strong enough to decapitate a Celestial with a single blow, and singlehandedly slaughtered entire armies of gods -- though it is possible that this immense strength is at least in-part due to him wielding All-Black the Necrosword.
Superhuman Durability: Knull is durable enough to survive being blasted by Celestials; and was unharmed by a plunge from space through the atmosphere of a planet while engaged in combat with another deity, though he was left unconscious after being stabbed through the head.
Regenerative Healing Factor: Despite his immense durability, Knull is capable of being injured and even incapacitated. However, he is able to not only survive injuries that would kill other gods, but rapidly recover from them.
Self-Sustenance: Knull is capable of surviving in the vacuum of space unaided, and does not appear to need food, water, or sleep to survive.
Shape-Shifting: Knull is capable of transforming his mouth into a fanged maw with a prehensile serpentine tongue.
Supreme Umbrakinesis: Knull possesses the ability to create, control, and manipulate a fount of eldritch darkness — a manifestation of the primordial void that existed before the universe itself — that he calls the "living abyss".
Symbiote Creation: Knull manifested the first symbiote from his shadow in order to kill a Celestial, and formed a suit of symbiote-armor when embarking on his deicidal crusade. While stranded on a desolate world, Knull discovered he could infect "lesser creatures" with the living abyss, creating an army of symbiotes to conquer the universe.
Symbiote Domination: As the divine progenitor of the symbiotes and the nexus of their hive-mind, Knull is able to mentally influence and dominate symbiotes; driving them insane with bloodlust. He is capable of indwelling them, enabling him to see through their eyes and directly control them; and can manipulate their biomasses even when not in direct contact with them, as demonstrated when he used an ancient dragon-like symbiote to attack Earth and manifest an avatar of his true form.
Expert Combatant: Despite not possessing any formal training, Knull is a vicious warrior with billions of years' worth of combat experience, capable of slaughtering entire armies of gods single-handedly.
The Light: Knull is vulnerable to a metaphysical force he refers to as "the Light", which came into being with the Big Bang and was spread through the Abyss by the Celestials. The Light manifests as concepts such as honor, benevolence, and nobility; and physically as the divine power wielded by gods. While Knull sought to devour and corrupt the Light using his army of symbiotes, his control over them was severed when the symbiote-dragon he was indwelling was blasted by Thor's divine lightning. Centuries later, his avatar was temporarily destabilized by the totemic avatar Miles Morales' bioelectric Venom Blast.
Knull possessing the dragon-like symbiote, Grendel.
In the beginning, there was nothing. And then...war. The light of being exploded into my realm. Blinded, I fell for eons in the bright. And inside of that light...something else...Gods. Those that saw my world as...incomplete. As clay for their unwanted designs...that banished my abyss further into the deepest corners of creation. They would come to call my kingdom 'space'. As if it were an empty thing that needed to be filled. But my kingdom was not empty. My abyss was not dead. Not hollow. The endlessness of my lands was not theirs to raze and reform and remake! No. The void breathes. The abyss has teeth. And shadows only grow in the light. That was the first time I tasted the blood of the light. And for that crime, I was banished...But the gods, they did not know what they had done. The fools had sent me home. To my void...where my work began. The first of the race your kind calls Symbiotes began life as a blade. I pulled its shape from my own and cast its living edge in the fire of the first creator I felled. There, shrouded in my darkness, the god of a forgotten idea...became the god of the forge. I was...unrefined in those early days. And as such, the creation of the proto-Symbiote was...unclean. To this day, the weaker of my creations carry the scars of their progenitor's birth inside of them. They still fear the fire of the forge...and the discordant and incessant noise of a Celestial hammer beating their will into something...wieldy. Into something...beautiful. My weapon forged. I set out to banish the bright and all that came with it. In time, my living blade would become known as All-Black. The Necrosword. The Godslayer. Together, we slit the throats of creation and choked a billion stars with the blood of the all-mighty. Until...we fell. And All-Black, my first-born...was taken from me...by some doomed wretch who would come to curse its name.
~ Knull explaining his origins to Eddie Brock.
HA! You are a simple and trusting host, Edward Brock. I see why my child adores you so. But you have been lied to for so very long. What you think of as their homeworld, their planet... is nothing more than the largest horde of symbiotes in the galaxy trying desperately to keep their greatest secret. An infinity of them churning and roiling endlessly around the one thing that binds them all... the hive mind they cannot do without. Do you see the shape of it now? Do you understand? There is no "Planet of the Symbiotes".Klyntar is their word for "cage". That is where I am right now, host. Where I have been sleeping for eons. I am there. Imprisoned. As I am here piloting this... what did your people call it? The Grendel? Thank you for releasing my other, Eddie Brock. Though I'm not sure how much you had to do with the choice... no doubt your symbiote has been reacting to my resurrection on late, no? I'm sure it all must be quite... overwhelming for you both... but all is well, child. Your God is awake. And God is coming. When this Grendel is complete... when I find its missing... parts... it will come for me. It will free me from my klyntar. From my cage. And then I will finish what I began. I will rid my dark kingdom of this invasive light once and for all... and I will start with Earth.
~ Knull explaining his agenda.
You...you think me undone...you...You have no idea what I am! I AM YOUR GOD! And you will obey me!
~ Knull before his defeat.
Knull is an overarching antagonist over a portion of the Marvel Universe due to being the one behind the creation of the symbiotes, who were responsible for creating a significant amount of villains, including Venom, Carnage, Red Goblin, Scream, Riot and Agony.
Coincidentally, "Knull", in Swedish translation, means "f**k".
When asked what Knull would have done had he encountered Carnage or one of Venom's other offspring, co-creator Ryan Stegman replied that he would have "either [tried] to hurt them or re-consume them and bring them back to Klyntar."