Karnak #3 Review

365570._SX640_QL80_TTD_By Warren Ellis, Roland Bosch, Dan Brown, Clayton Cowles

Karnak reunites with SHIELD to debrief on the Cult of the Single Shadow as well as give several minute lessons on the nature of reality and life vs death. 

Ellis gives this series the flair its cultivated from the past 2 issues despite having very little action. Karnak himself seems to relish the chance to share his Zen musings with anyone who will listen, only taking action when it presents a unique challenge. Despite being a “talking heads” issue, Ellis makes it just as compelling as Karnak killing an entire building of cultists. Perhaps the biggest question is, if Karnak is already dead as he claims, why does he continue to fight? Even he is stumped by that one, though I’m sure he will ponder the answer while fighting within the Temple of the Single Shadow.

Roland Bosch takes over art duties from Gerado Zaffino and Antonio Fuso and he has big shoes to fill. With Dan Brown’s colors, he does a decent job imitating Zaffino. Though I am loath to say it, this art does feel like a imitation rather than an extension of Bosch himself. I’m sure that helps keep the average readers coming back by maintaining a baseline aesthetic, but the differences are as clear as day to someone paying attention. Even when Zaffino made mistakes in his art, it was plain that it was part of his style and fit with the philosophical leanings of the book. Here, Bosch just seems to have trouble remembering what Coulson looks like or how tall Karnak is. Using deep shadows and muted colors can’t disguise the fact that a key element of the book has been taken away, despite it being a reality of mainstream comics.

Therein lies the greatness and limitations of this book, what makes it special are the creators themselves who breathe life into it. As proven with Moon Knight, this book could not exist with Ellis’ thoughtful but casual remarks on existence and the illusion of being. Replacing him or his artist shows what is being taken away rather than added. For his part, Bosch needs to let his natural style come to the forefront of the art rather than trying to fill shoes he just can’t. For Marvel’s part, when Ellis leaves (because he never sticks with anything for very long) it would be wise to end Karnak as well. The character can be in the regular Inhuman books as whatever those writers need him to be but he can only exist in this way with his creators’ presence.

Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent

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