Page 45 Review by Stephen
Let me introduce you to the green-cowled Karnak, now Magister of the Tower Of Wisdom, a rigidly austere and imposingly tall "temple" built of heavy grey stone, sequestered on a plateau high in the misty mountains of what I infer are the Andes or somewhere of that ilk.
A member of its royal family, he once enjoyed the company of his fellow Inhumans. Now his life is solitary, monastic and focussed on silent contemplation, broken only when one of his acolytes announces:
"Magister. The Infernal Device is calling."
Hidden behind doors so thick that it takes four to heave them open - and even so, they budge only grudgingly - the Infernal Device is an old-skool, two-way radio supplied by S.H.I.E.L.D., the international espionage agency which now summons him from seclusion to an old substation in Svalbard on the Arctic Ocean where they are experiencing security breaches.
"Attilan, the seat of Inhumanity, was once located in the North Atlantic. It was a little like this. Bleak. Isolated. Cold. It is pleasing to me."
Karnak is being called upon because a couple's son - recently traumatised and transmogrified by the Inhuman's Terrigen Mist into one of their own - has been abducted by a death cult. S.H.I.E.L.D.S.'s investigations have been hampered by legal restrictions and by infiltration whose source Karnak spots instantly.
"My curse is that I see the flaw in all things. Systems. Philosophies. Structures. People. Everything.
"The bullet you fired at me was flawed simply by the act of being fired.
"You were flawed by being born."
His insight allows him to target these weaknesses and so shatter structures, be they walls, bones or even illusions: comforting thoughts that get us through each day. He does so ruthlessly and remorselessly. Never a party person, Karnak is no longer a people person, and he is far from eager to please. Small talk is an anathema to him; smiling is an insult.
Yet he may be the best Marvel-Comic company you can hope to keep right now outside of our good Stephen Strange or Jessica Jones.
Always reliable for reinvention, Warren Ellis - whose creator-owned comics like INJECTION I hope need no introduction - has stayed true to the character's focussed nature and distilled it into raw single-mindedness. He's delivered a much more fractious take on a character about whom you need know nothing prior to this.
The austerity's enhanced by Gerardo Zaffino's gruff, grainy textures and superb command of half-light and midnight when confronted with Karnak's eye-piercing, soul-searing gaze. The entire comic experience is led by colour artist Dan Brown's rich olive green. But coming back to Karnak in action, Zaffino stops time virtually dead its tracks as that bullet is fired, the space ahead of its trajectory ruptured as any wound would be while what's left in its wake flares brilliantly behind.
You will have plenty Matt Fraction & David Aja IRON FIST kung-fu fighting, with the cliffhanger promising much more to come.
You are always, always encouraged - whoever you are - to buy Paul Jenkins & Jae Lee's self-contained, exceptionally literate, deliciously delineated and lambently coloured INHUMANS collection (think Neil Gaiman, I kid you not), but you certainly don't need it for this.
Now, what do you think Karnak's biggest flaw is?