Karnak has been one of the best things to come out of Marvel's current wave of Inhumans-hype. Even over just a few issues it's developed the badarse Inhuman magister as an unstoppable force of bone-crunching, precise destruction — but Karnak's latest standout moment is one of the craziest things he's ever done. Spoilers ahead for Karnak #3 by Warren Ellis, Roland Boschi, Dan Brown and Clayton Cowles — and a warning, there's one particular panel that might be a tad NSFW for gore. Discretion is advised, and all that.
So like I said, Karnak's ability to find the flaw in all things — from the flaws in a way a door is made, so he can smash it into splinters and fling said splinters into the face of a squad of armed men, to the flaw in someone's existence just to explode their insides with a touch — has made him this visceral, awesome force of nature in this new series. Between Gerardo Zaffino's art over the first two issues, and Roland Boschi going forward from this third issue, Karnak has produced some of the most beautiful action scenes I've ever seen in a comic, and Ellis clearly has a lot of fun in writing crazy action where Karnak's power is pushed to its most terrifying extremes.
But the climax of this week's third issue just takes the cake in terms of just how far Karnak can take his flaw-spotting action. On the hunt of an Inhuman boy kidnapped by a mysterious cult that believes him to be their messiah, Karnak and his SHIELD allies find themselves under attack by a sea of humanoid creatures guarding the cult's headquarters, emitting a bizarre noise that allows them to blast beams of energy at SHIELD's helicarrier.
Karnak, being the sort of person he is, is totally fine with the creatures nearly bringing the ship down while he listens to the strange "song" they emit, before calmly asking a SHIELD technician if he can borrow the Helicarrier's P.A. system for a moment. After relenting — because you don't say no to Karnak — the Inhuman simply shouts an utterance represented by a black speech bubble into the microphone:
And that little black speech bubble makes this happen:
Yup. Karnak can just exploded the heads of hundreds of people with a single command.
Apparently, being able to see the flaw in everything lets you see a flaw in the very transmission of sound itself — so Karnak sent out a frequency that exploited that flaw in a rather explosive manner. It's absurd, and more than a little horrifying, and it's almost juvenile in its awesomeness. What's to stop this guy from doing anything at this point? Karnak seems like the sort of person who could blow the heads off everyone on the planet — LITERALLY — for shits and giggles, but decides to keep the human race around as an idle plaything.
I've said it before, but I'll say it again; in this sea of Inhuman stories trying to get readers to accept them, portraying one who is so obscenely powerful and petrifying and just does not care about being accepted by anyone is fascinating to read. Especially when he caps off his head-popping display with a comeback like this: