Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Gerardo Zaffino, Dan Brown
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: October 21, 2015
Magister of the Tower of Wisdom, the mighty Karnak of the Inhumans can find the flaw in everything…quite literally everything. That’s what he does.
And boy, does he do it well when written by the mighty Warren Ellis. In recent years at Marvel, Ellis is best known for revitalizing Moon Knight with Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire, pulling the character out of C-level status and delivering one of the best 6 issue arcs in recent memory. For Karnak, Ellis teams with Gerardo Zaffino and Dan Brown to tell the tale of a not-so-long-ago deceased Inhuman who possesses quite a gift. I can tell you that some of the magic of the Moon Knight relaunch is here, but Karnak is his own person and not a Moon Knight clone.
Warren Ellis delivers some great dialogue in this issue, getting readers in on the ground floor of who Karnak is and what he is like in this post-Secret Wars universe. This Karnak is edgy, cryptic and violent with a calculating precision that is rivaled by no one. He’s always been a quiet powerhouse in the Inhuman family, but Ellis’ take has moved Karnak into an intriguing role of prophet, speaking often in ominous statements about how small humanity is in the grand scheme of the world. It’s a new dimension for the character as he progresses from advisor to the throne to a powerful Magister and I am completely intrigued as to what the Tower of Wisdom’s role is going to be in the Marvel Universe.
Ellis brings Coulson into the issue as a foil for Karnak and the two characters work together perfectly. Ellis writes a good Coulson, his light demeanor on display while also not weakening the character. He’s very Clark Gregg, with enough composure to keep his cool when Karnak repeatedly puts him down in a way that is uniquely Karnak. This is a duo I could stand to read more of and it was clever of Ellis to give readers a look at this new Karnak using Coulson as a mirror.
Gerardo Zaffino’s pencil work is solid, giving the book a gritty and intense feel. Karnak looks infinitely more badass than he ever has, and when Zaffino cuts loose with some action at the end of the issue I got really excited for this series going forward. He has a unique style that would be suitable for a Moon Knight series as well, using shadow and loose pencils at the perfect time to hint at Karnak’s dark side and the chaos of the world now that Inhumans are more commonplace. This is work that will get many people talking and his pencil style is complimented nicely by Dan Brown’s colour work. Ellis seems to have a magic touch with recent Marvel work relaunching semi-obscure characters into the mainstream and he is once again complimented by a very solid art team.
I really enjoyed Karnak #1. It’s gritty lack of polish was a nice addition to the Inhuman lineup and I can easily say I’ve never been this entertained by Karnak before. This is a whole new side to this character and I’ll be back with arms wide open for the second issue.
The Verdict: 9.0/10