[SPOILER WARNING: This Interview contains major spoilers for "Inhuman" #13, on sale now.]
It's a time of great trials and tribulations for the Royal Family of Marvel Comics' Inhumans. They're trying to reestablish their Capital City of Attilan as an island in New York's Hudson River; they're training and taking in the newly powered Inhumans emerging across the globe thanks to a cloud of transformative mist released by their former king, Black Bolt; and they're dealing with the threat of hostile rival Inhuman factions. Making things even more perilous is Queen Medusa taking these threats on without Karnak, one of her most trusted advisors who took his own life in the aftermath of Marvel's recent "Infinity" event.
Lacking Karnak's advice and ability to perceive weaknesses and stress points in virtually anything, Medusa has turned to other advisors like the "Nuhuman" Lineage, and in writer Charles Soule and artist Andre Araujo's "Inhuman" #13 the former mobster showed his treacherous true colors by luring the Royal Family into a trap and shooting another of its members in the back. While things are decidedly bleak, all hope is not lost after the final page revealed Karnak alive and observing Lineage's treachery from the afterlife, announcing his discovery of a weakness in the land of the dead.
CBR News spoke with Soule about Karnak's return to the world of the Inhumans, the inspiration behind Lineage and his role in "Inhuman," as well as the writer's bigger plans for the Inhumans during "Secret Wars" and the final lead up to the big event.
CBR News: That was a hell of a cliffhanger to end "Inhuman" #13 on, and one that's sure to excite fans of deceased Inhuman martial arts master and weakness detector Karnak after he committed suicide in "Inhumanity" #1. Based on what I can tell from that scene, Karnak is indeed still dead and looking for a way out of the afterlife, correct? Will we see more of him next issue or is the Karnak storyline something that will develop slowly over time?
Charles Soule: Karnak is absolutely still dead, but as we've seen, that doesn't necessarily mean he can't be a part of "Inhuman!" As we saw at the end of #13, Karnak is in the afterlife, and he's not alone. Karnak is aware of some of the troubles going on in the real world, and thinks it might just be time to offer his services to his queen once again. So yes, we'll see more of him in issues to come for sure.
What made you want to bring Karnak back to the book? What do you feel he adds to the series and how long has this revival been in the works?
Karnak is just such a unique, weird (in a good way) character. His power is the ability to see weakness and stress points in anything around him, which he then exploits either physically through his amazing kung fu-esque fighting skills, or mentally/strategically in his role as one of Queen Medusa's chief counselors. He tends to have a fascinating perspective on events, and adding his voice back into the mix of the "Inhuman" cast will open up some great new possibilities.
I had the idea for the way Karnak would come back into the book quite early, and I think it's pretty cool. It's one of those fun comic book logic-type scenarios that would be ludicrous in any other setting but should work nicely here. It was just about finding the right moment to do it.
Karnak's potential return to life is bound to have big ramifications for the future of the Inhumans, and in "Uncanny Inhuman" #0 former Inhuman king Black Bolt faces off against a foe well versed in the Inhumans' possible futures, the time traveling Kang the Conqueror. Will Karnak fans want to check out this issue?
In the sense that "Uncanny Inhumans" is a big part of the overall Inhuman picture as far as it relates to the Marvel Universe, of course. As we've seen, the Inhuman cast is big, and all of those characters will continue to weave in and out of each others' stories as the books move forward. So picking up "Uncanny" (which is a great idea in any case if you ask me -- it's a gorgeous-looking book) is definitely a good move if you like the Inhuman side of the MU, or even if you have no experience and want to jump in.
The other big player in "Inhuman" #13 is former mobster Gordon Nobili now the Inhuman known as Lineage, who you created during your "Thunderbolts" run. It seems like you've grown fond of him. What inspired Lineage's creation? Did you know you were going to bring him over into "Inhuman" when you introduced him in "Thunderbolts?"
You know, creating Lineage was just the happiest of accidents. He worked for the story we told in those "Thunderbolts" issues (his first appearance is "Thunderbolts" #17, for those collectors out there), but I had no idea at that point that I would be writing "Inhuman" or that I would be involved with these characters to this extent. However, when I was planning my run on this book, it occurred to me immediately that Lineage could be a perfect character to bring over. His power is to speak with anyone in his ancestral line, going all the way back to the beginning of Inhuman history, which means many thousands of years, so he has access to secret information that no one else really does. He's one of those master manipulator types. He can see the big picture in a way that most of the other characters don't, which makes him both very dangerous and very useful.
Lineage appeared to be showing off his mastery of political betrayal in "Inhuman" #13, but I'm not exactly sure of his motivations. Is that anything you can tell us more about? By betraying Medusa and the Royal family is he orchestrating a coup? Or is his inner monologue line about how being Inhuman is about change indicative of a desire to completely burn down old forms of governance?
As we'll see in this story, Lineage has had a plan for a very long time, and he's been building on it as different things have happened in the story. At this point, it's time for him to lay his cards on the table -- and we'll learn that his agenda with respect to the Inhumans, especially the various NuHumans (the newly super powered people appearing all over the planet in recent months,) isn't quite what you might expect.
I think the best villains have understandable motivations, and I've tried to do that with Lineage. He's a great foil for our heroes.
Speaking of major power players in the Inhuman world, it seems like things are in flux in these final few issues before the "Secret Wars" series "Attilan Rising." The Capo of the Ennilux Corporation is down, and thanks to Lineage's machinations Medusa and her subjects are about to face off against Lash and his faction of Inhumans. Is it safe to say a literal war for the future of the Inhumans has begun?
I would certainly say this is the most significant battle the Inhumans have faced in some time. It's designed to be a game-changer for the characters. We'll learn more about what the Inhumans' role will be going forward, as well as how ordinary humans will start to deal with them. I think you can consider Issues #13, #14 and the Annual as a sort of a "season finale" for the first big chunk of "Inhuman" plot lines, where I pull together a bunch of the themes, characters and concepts I've been introducing.
We talked last time about working to bring these last few issues to life with Andre Araujo and Ryan Stegman, with the latter drawing the final chapter to your first long form story, "Inhuman Annual" #1. Can you share anything about some of the sequences they're drawing that you're especially excited about?
Sure. One of my favorite plot lines in this story has to do with Eldrac the Door. As regular readers know, Eldrac is an Inhuman who was once an ordinary person, but who became a sort of large stone or metal gateway upon his exposure to the Terrigen Mists (the chemical catalyst that gives anyone with Inhuman genes their powers via a one-time, permanent transformation). He's literally been installed in the Inhumans' capital city of New Attilan, built into the wall. He can teleport anyone who steps into his "mouth" wherever he thinks they need to go. As we saw in Issue #13, Lineage has been talking with Eldrac secretly for quite some time, and the big old door's loyalty to Medusa and the other royal Inhumans might be a bit -- fragile. His story here is super cool, and even odd. Oddness tends to work really well in "Inhuman."
Finally, I understand "Inhuman: Attilan Rising," the "Secret Wars" series you're doing which follows "Inhuman Annual" #1, will be somewhat new reader friendly because of the nature of the event, but will the fallout and ramifications from these last few issues carry over into "Attilan Rising?" If your "Inhuman" run was a series of epic fantasy novels would "Attilan Rising" be sort of the start of the second novel?
I would call "Attilan Rising" more of a fascinating look at many of the same issues I explore in the main "Inhuman" series, but viewed through a different lens. It's definitely hyper accessible for new readers, and it's a really fun story. The basic idea involves a resistance movement in Battleworld that's trying to help people who need aid of one sort or another. It's led by Black Bolt -- although he's different than we're used to seeing him. The person assigned to bring him down is Medusa. In most Inhuman stories, they are husband and wife, so we're already looking at a very interesting dynamic. The story has a "life during wartime" vibe, with some hints of "Casablanca." John Timms is drawing the hell out of it, and Dave Johnson is doing some amazing character designs and covers as well. I'm really happy with that book.
I want to conclude by saying that fans of Kamala Khan (AKA Ms. Marvel) might want to check out the "Inhuman Annual" -- she gets a pretty significant guest appearance that was really fun to write. Beyond that, obviously I can't wait to hear what people think of "Uncanny Inhumans" once they see what I've been cooking up with Steve McNiven. Beyond that, there's an amazing Free Comic Book Day story featuring the "Uncanny Inhumans" that will give some hints about the longer-term story lines we have planned. There is a lot of cool stuff on the way in "Inhuman." I'm hearing more and more from readers as they're discovering it in trade (the second collection just hit shelves, in fact.) So, thank you everyone who's checking it out, and if you haven't read it yet -- now's the time. Really.
"Inhumans" #13 is on sale now from Marvel Comics.