Karnak #1 Reviewed (Week of October 21st)
When Charles Soule killed off Karnak at the beginning of Inhumanity I was pissed. I mean really pissed. I did not even realize that I liked the character so much, but when he hit the pavement my heart broke along with his organs and bones. Thank the One-above-all that Marvel heard our cries of despair and responded in kind. With the Inhuman’s growing importance and relevance in Marvel’s new line-up it makes sense that they are shelling out #1’s to some of the cast. Karnak is the perfect choice for a solo book and this first issue FLAWLESSly shows us why.
Firstly, it is important to acknowledge the awesome way the company chose to bring the character back. Character resurrection has always been a controversial topic, especially in the comics industry. With such frequent and cheap deaths and rebirths fans are understandably sick of resurrection stories. Secret Wars was the perfect opportunity for the company to simply say “He’s back!” and leave it at that. But Marvel chose to go balls to the wall and continue his story with the pre-text of his death. Karnak (whose power is to see the shatter point in all things; be they physical or abstract) died and in the afterlife he saw its flaw and exploited it. The character literally shatters the laws of the universe as we know and brings himself back to life. Cool af amirite?
Now that we’ve gotten exposition out of the way lets run through this #1’s merits. Any reader could jump right in on this issue without any knowledge of Karnak, Inhumans, or heck even Marvel and still find themselves entertained. Warren Ellis was the perfect match to write for the character. I felt echoes of his glorious run on Moon Knight as I read Karnak #1. This series is every bit as insightful, hard core, and entertaining as Ellis’ other works. While the story is fantastic it would not have near as much luster without the visual team of artist Gerardo Zaffino and color artist Dan Brown. The duo’s dark and sober aesthetics compliment Karnak’s bleak philosophies. Conversely, their kinetic and jagged action scenes excite the reader as you power through the story.
As for the plot and characterization, both are spot on. Karnak, having seen the flaws in his people and self-imposed an exile, heads a monastery-like group of inhuman philosophers in the Tower of Wisdom funded by S.H.I.E.L.D. The cynical themes and nihilistic philosophies in the book are a bit of a downer, but they are tempered with humor and escapist action enough that you won’t put down the book feeling like you overdosed on Nietzsche.
Additionally for all you comic book casuals who are only in it for the movies there is indeed MCU incentive to hop on the Karnak hype train. The Phase 3 release of Inhumans is only 4 years out and it is nigh-impossible for Marvel to release an Inhuman-centric film without including Karnak. If you read this you won’t have to wikipedia Karnak the week before the movie comes out!
Overall this is a very solid start to a series that is both well-conceived and accessible. Add Karnak to your pull list today!