Twenty-Five years ago, I got my hands on a copy of "The Fantastic Four Compendium." It was TSR's official game accessory to the "Marvel Super Heroes" RPG. That was paper-pencil folks. That was also my introduction to the Inhumans and to Karnak who was featured in "Inhumanity #1."
I enjoyed reading this book. Matt Fraction drew me into this Inhuman genesis story through Karnak, who up to this point was only an oblong-headed, martial artist on page thirty of my compendium. One could guess that I'd never really followed the Inhumans much except for the occasional guest-appearance in an issue of FF or some other comic. I know many of them by name: Black Bolt, Medusa, Crystal, Triton, Maximus, Lockjaw and Gorgon. I know that Quicksilver was once married to Crystal. But I digress. Using Karnak as the narrator of the story gave voice to a character that I could have cared less about. Until today.
The Book of Genesis in the Bible reads: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light" (Genesis 1:1-3 ESV). The opening page of "Inhumanity" was dark and somber in tone. The following page was explosive and bright. The two contrasting pages produced their desired effect. The black page represented the dark void. The bright page symbolized the light produced by King Black Bolt's "big bang." Karnak, along with the Avengers, must deduce whether this was "good" or not.
According to the brooding (might I say snivelingly insane) Inhuman who can find fault or error in any fool-proof logic or "unbreakable" glass, then capitalize on it, there is something terribly beautiful about Black Bolt's igniting of the new inhuman age. However, his queen Medusa, doesn't quite believe that her husband could do such a thing. The foreshadowing couldn't be more obvious. More inhumans mean another giant threat to the world. It also becomes a proverbial needle-in-a-haystack for Thanos who's still set on confronting the son he hopes to destroy.
Laura Martin's colors popped throughout, especially in the explosion scene. She also did a good job in her use of color in Hawkeye's uniform. Olivier Coipel did a fantastic job on pencils also. I liked how Hawkeye was the only hero to take down Karnak, doing so with a taser arrow. His quip, "Hey, check it out. I'm not the one that got his @*%! kicked this time" and Captain America's reply was priceless. The dialogue between Karnak and Hawkeye was humorous also in a sad way.
Origin stories can be complicated to tell. It's not difficult to buy into secular, human pre-history accounts if one is not moored by the biblical account. One could debate creation versus evolution all day long. I won't do this here. Add a few aliens to the mix plus some Nietzsche and you've got a theme song running: "Only the Strong Survives." So the whole thing about the Kree using neaderthals as lab rats was farfetched (as well it should be). It is comic fantasy.
I thought to myself, "It would have been nice if Fraction took the whole sons of God, daughters of man, Nephilim route in his genesis account. " "The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown" (Genesis 6:4 ESV). Or maybe not. The Nephilim would later die in the Flood. Sometimes some things are better left alone. Moreover, the fight scene between Karnak and the Avengers was too brief. I would have liked to see the full scope of his fighting abilities before he was put down.
As epitaphs go, "Inhumanity #1" is a well-written one. I look forward to seeing whether Karnak's doomsday prophecy for Inhumanity comes to pass. By the way, "Karnak [was] a quiet, soft-spoken man who always [studied] everything in his vicinity. He never [acted] rashly" (Martin, 1987).
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Martin, David E. "The Fantastic Four Compendium." Marvel Super Heroes: Advanced Game Official Accessory. Marvel Entertainment Group. TSR, Inc. 1987.
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