Karnak: The Flaw in All Things – Warren Ellis studies the Inhuman master of perception


Warren Ellis has always at his best in the super hero realm when he’s given a finite number of issues (usually six) to either provide a new take on a classic character or get to the core of why that character works. This has been a very successful process as his work on Iron Man: Extremis and Moon Knight has demonstrated. Now it’s time for another character study, this time on martial arts expert and master of finding weaknesses – Karnak of the Inhumans.

Karnak has left New Attilan and has taken charge of a monastery known as The Second Tower of Wisdom. To sustain his new home, he has offered his services to S.H.I.E.L.D. – answering directly to Director Coulson – to rescue newly activated Nuhumans and help them through their change for lucrative sums. However, when he is tasked with rescuing Nuhuman Adam Roderick from I.D.I.C., things become problematic to say the least.

Already some of Marvel’s most fascinating characters, Karnak has always been one of the most intriguing Inhuman characters. Not having been exposed to the Terrigen Mists like his Inhuman brethren, he gained his abilities through sheer perseverance and intense training. His intense powers of perception therefore make for some great story possibilities.

Ellis rightfully devotes most of the attention and development in the story to Karnak and you can immediately tell he has a natural voice for the character. Karnak whilst the protagonist of the story is not the most likable character you’ll come across. Aloof and standoffish with Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, his perceptiveness and his confidence in his abilities can easily be perceived as arrogance, but – more often than not – he backs it up. His ability to see flaws in everything provide some great comic relief as well with Karnak’s picking apart of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s logic and his interaction with Coulson who brings a more relatable aspect to the story. But as menacing as Karnak may come across, he is nothing compared to creepiness emanating from the cult like I.D.I.C. who make for some excellent villains for the piece.

Art wise, duties are divided between Gerardo Zaffino and Roland Boschi. Zaffino handles the opening issues and does a fantastic job establishing the creepy and mysterious tone the series is aiming for. Keeping with Karnak’s perceptive abilities, everything looks considered and thought out with every page and panel meaning something. Boschi who has done some great work on darker Marvel books (Wolverine Max immediately comes to mind) finishes the series up seamlessly and creates a very tense conclusion. Special mentions also to colourist Dan Brown whose palette greatly enhances the atmosphere being created and to David Aja whose covers (as usual) are phenomenal and some of the best designed cover piece you’ll see in all comics.

Karnak is sure to be getting a lot more attention once the Inhumans TV series hits screens so this is an ideal character study to introduce the character. Fans of Warren Ellis and Inhumans in general will also find more than enough to enjoy.

Karnak: The Flaw in All Things is published 16 March by Marvel

9780785198482 – P/B – £14.99

Find more Inhumans titles here

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Post by Leo

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