When Marvel announced that one of the series in their "All-New, All-Different" line-up was "Karnak," many longtime readers wondered exactly how the lesser-known Inhuman supporting player would make the transition to leading man. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, "Karnak" writer Warren Ellis tackled that very topic, making one fact about the character very clear up top.
"He's not an Inhuman," said Ellis before revealing how he landed the assignment and what drew him to Karnak. "So, what happens is that every year or two Marvel pulls out one from the vaults and tells me I can take it to the lab and, you know, shoot lightning into it and stitch bits of hobo to it and whatever. It's basically all they keep me around for. They showed me Karnak, and I did some reading, because, seriously, short guy in a weird helmet who can karate-chop anything to death, why the hell not. And he's not an Inhuman. He never took the mutagenic Terrigen mists like the other Inhumans. He's a dementedly intense philosopher who can see the flaw in anything -- objects, systems, ideas, people -- and strike that flaw in order to destroy it. And, once you realize that that's what you're looking at... well, how can you not take a crack at that? That's insane."
The series will reteam Ellis with his "Moon Knight" colorist Jordie Bellaire as well as artist Gerardo Zaffino. Editor Nick Lowe initially had trouble finding an artist to match Ellis' pitch -- and then he saw Gerardo Zaffino's art. "I showed it to Warren who liked it, too," Lowe explained to EW, "and then begged Gerardo to come onto the book. It's his major American debut, but he's the art crush to so many of the top industry artists. I can't wait for everyone else to see what Gerardo can do."
Ellis spoke about how he hopes readers will respond to "Karnak," saying that he'd like them to "come away saying, 'Wow, that was astonishingly bleak, and he worked really hard to get those three bad jokes in there, and why can't I stop crying and do I have enough cash left to buy a bottle of bleach to drink.' Honestly, I think the set-up is so simple, but the character runs so deep and strange, that I just hope other people are as fascinated by the weird little bastard as I am. He does incredibly altruistic things for really kind of screwed-up deeply personal reasons, and does them in such a violent and misanthropic way that he might actually be the villain of the piece."
The first storyarc will also include Agent Phil Coulson, Ellis revealed. "Well, I did get to write Phil Coulson, so channeling Clark Gregg was fun -- he wrote the foreword to the Avengers graphic novel I did a couple of years ago, so I got to make up for the fact that Coulson wasn't in that book," said Ellis. "Also, Karnak goes to a building in Berlin where a bunch of my friends work and, um, kills everybody. So maybe I could apologize to them here? Probably shouldn't have done that."