This isn’t an installment of my semi-regular sci-fi comics series, although they’re both science fictional enough for my blood. But two books came out last week that I feel like folks ought to take a look at, and I have the feeling both of them have the potential to be overlooked.
KARNAK #1, by Warren Ellis, Gerardo Zaffino, and Dan Brown
Karnak is billed as an ongoing, although if I know Warren Ellis he’ll likely only be helming the book for the first six to twelve issues. I intend to mentally treat it as a miniseries until I know more about his plans. I know next to nothing about the Inhumans, and I didn’t know Karnak was even a character until this book was announced, so I’m coming at this from a position of almost total ignorance. That said, the first issue intrigues.
The book begins with a call from something called the Infernal Device. One of Karnak’s monks– he has monks– comes to get him. The Infernal Device is in here:
…and it turns out to be a phone. Right away, you realize Warren Ellis is writing the book, which should probably tell you right away whether you’re reading this or not. Karnak’s deal is that he can instantly see the flaw in anything: philosophies, objects, systems, people… everything. It makes his abilities both hard to define and extremely versatile. He splits a bullet in half with his bare hand at one point. Also, this happens:
The plot itself is pretty thin: Karnak is hired, through S.H.I.E.L.D., to find a young man who has been exposed to the Terrigen mists and captured by an offshoot of AIM called IDIC. The genius of this book is the atmosphere; you already have an idea of the color palette and the general tone, and the book is remarkably sparse with words– I’d say half the book has less than one dialogue bubble per page, and there are at least half a dozen with no dialogue or text at all. It’s well worth checking out, if you’d let it slip by.
CLEAN ROOM #1, by Gail Simone and Jon Davis-Hunt
This one’s definitely an ongoing, and since it’s a Vertigo title not called Hellblazer one assumes it will be written by Gail Simone until it gets cancelled or she decides to end it. The book starts off in Germany, probably but not definitely in the past, where a red-headed little girl (who is never named) is run over by a truck driver who doesn’t seem entirely in control of himself while he’s doing it. When she wakes up, she asks her mother where her daddy is, and when Mom points out that Daddy’s in the room with them, she asks why Daddy’s face is made of snakes.
So we start off lighthearted and cozy, is what I’m saying.
I’ll be honest: KARNAK is pretty straightforward, if a story told in an interesting way. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on in CLEAN ROOM, but I know I like it. The rest of the book is a journalist trying to track down Astrid Mueller, author of a book with no punctuation that supposedly either reveals the secrets of the universe to you or drives you insane. And if you’re catching echoes of THE KING IN YELLOW… well, I doubt that’s a mistake.
Her name is Chloe Pierce, and ever since her boyfriend blew his head off soon after reading the book, she’s been searching for answers. She survives a suicide attempt at the beginning of her part of the story, and by the end of it she’s confronting Astrid Mueller, who is red-headed and has a German last name. Hmmm…
Like I said, I have no idea where it’s going, really, but the book’s overall vibe is creepy as hell and Gail Simone is always great. So check it out.