Karnak The Shatterer sees the flaw in all things. That’s his whole job, really, to find the flaw and hit it really hard, basically. He’s a refined, filigreed hammer, but he’s still just a hammer, and to him, everything looks like a nail. What’s most fascinating is how Warren Ellis and Roland Boschi wrap up their look at how Karnak, who can see the flaw in everything, can’t see the flaws in himself.
This is the sixth issue of a book that’s taken a while to come out, but it easily meets some high expectations. The plot has followed Karnak as he chases a young man who can turn anybody into anything with a gesture. Over the course of the book, it’s come out that Karnak — who lost a brother to the Inhuman cult of terrigenesis, where people are genetically altered as a rite of passage — has some pretty serious issues with the idea that the universe can ever just give you what you want. Boschi helps matters considerably with art that mixes scratchy inking, psychedelia, and even a nod to a goofy Spider-Man plotline from back in the day to create an unnerving feel.
On the surface it’s a fairly straightforward, and even kind of nasty, story about a unpleasant anti-hero. Under the surface, though Ellis tackles some fairly complex issues about belief, control, ego, and fear; while he never explicitly discusses it, Karnak has to pull a cop-out to win. He sees the physical flaw in his foe, but he can’t fix the moral one in himself.