Karnak: Conclusion

Here it is, for any who are interested in giving it the once-over…more fan-fic foolishness from a diseased mind. And there’s still another vanity effort to come after this! So…ready?

Here we go…

PAGE THIRTEEN

Sixgrid.

Panel 1: Double panel. We’re looking slightly up at Gorgon as the glow fades away, Lockjaw by his side, slobbering over him a little.

Gorgon: Crystal would bid us wait, cousin!

Gorgon: But, why should we? Have we not places to be? Must time always stand still, for the marshalling of companies, and the making of plans?

Gorgon: Are you not eager, as I am, to be simply away?

 

Panel 2: The light of the viewscreen map illuminates Karnak and Triton’s faces. Karnak is pointing upward to a significant spot on the screen with avid interest; Triton looks thoughtful.

Karnak: …You see, Triton? A more powerful signal than any we have picked up before

Triton: Yes, yes, Karnak…but what of these fluctuations? What can they mean?

Karnak: Only one thing, brother…

Karnak: …Activity.

 

Panel 3: Karnak and Triton continue to confer in the left background, while in the right foreground we see Gorgon’s hooves, Rikasa’s legs, Lockjaw’s paws and belly: the two brothers are being waited for. If we look very closely at the viewscreen, we might see about five very bright-by-comparison new targets on it, with the biggest being (subject to future revision) in the Grecian peninsula of the Mediterranean Sea.

Triton: …What?

Karnak: It’s what we’ve been waiting for.

Triton: It is?

Gorgon: Karnak, our time grows short! Has this window you speak of not arrived yet?

 

Panel 4: Karnak springs over to Gorgon and Rikasa, leaving Triton, still thoughtful, a foot or two behind. Karnak has a small sensor device in his hand.

Karnak: It has, Gorgon! The fluctuations are now at their lowest ebb of intensity!

Karnak: We may proceed!

Triton: Proceed to what?

 

Panel 5: Karnak, Gorgon, and Rikasa regard a reluctant Triton.

Karnak: Why, proceed to investigate, of course!

Triton: And are you sure this is the wisest course of action, Karnak? To simply rush off, into an unknown environment?

 

PAGE FOURTEEN

Sixgrid.

Panel 1: Double-sized panel, a diptych: Triton steps forward to join the others, and then they vanish in the glow of Lockjaw’s teleportation.

Karnak: As members of the Royal Family, should we instead leave that risk to others, Triton?

Rikasa: Please, Lord Triton…can you not see we will need your good sense along?

Triton: I can see precisely that, Rikasa.

Triton: …Very well.

Gorgon: It is settled, then. So quickly, Lockjaw…let us…

 

Panel 2: Not quite a quadruple-sized panel, this is really a small SPLASH with a strip of four panels on the very bottom of the page below it, which are each half the height and half the width (maybe a quarter the height and half the width?) of a regular sixgrid panel. And I can’t do the math right now, but whatever’s left over on the page after that narrow strip of panels gets squeezed in, that’s what this is. We’re looking down and on an angle at the Inhumans as they materialize in a grand indoor plaza of some dramatic Kirbyesque type. In a clockwise pattern around Lockjaw, I imagine they’re placed, from twelve o’clock: Gorgon, Karnak, Rikasa, Triton. But if that doesn’t quite work, then something else that does.

Gorgon: …BEGONE!

Triton: Could you not keep your voice down, cousin?

Karnak: There is no cause for alarm. Lockjaw has brought us deep within the complex, to a spot where the Kree technological activity is all but nonexistent.

Rikasa: Agon’s Genes…it’s beautiful

 

Panels 3 – 6: The Inhumans’ talking heads, one per panel.

Karnak: Rikasa?

Rikasa: I have already begun. There is a great deal of space to work with, here…

Triton: How large is this complex?

Gorgon: If this room is any indication…large, cousin.

 

PAGE FIFTEEN

Ninegrid.

Panel 1: Karnak is looking at his scanner, indicating a direction.

Karnak: This way, Inhumans!

 

Panel 2: Double-sized panel. They scamper through a large archway single file (I don’t know if the archway should be freestanding or not), Karnak intent on his readings. It’s a lot more colourful than the grey-blue Kreetech usually is – mostly golden, pink, purple, orange. The shapes are the same, but the style is different. Triton is perhaps looking back at the archway they’re passing through, just realizing that it’s ornamental, and so it’s very un-Kree…they may be silhouettes, here, if the artist wishes…

Karnak: There is a zone of slightly more pronounced activity just ahead!

Gorgon: Why does it sound so strange in here? Almost like an echo, but just out of hearing

Rikasa: I am moving our sounds into the corners, too, Gorgon.

Triton: Something’s wrong

 

Panel 3: We face them as they go down a flight of stairs, slightly darkened.

Karnak: Just a little further

Rikasa: I can feel more space up ahead

 

Panel 4: Triton turns to Gorgon.

Triton: Gorgon, I am beginning to have a terrible suspicion

Gorgon: Eh?

 

Panel 5: Karnak emerges from the stairway into a more brightly-illuminated space, looks up, and is SHOCKED!

Karnak: BY THE MISTS!!

 

Panel 6: Triple sized panel. The Inhumans are looking out into a very long and wide space that is filled, floor-to-ceiling, with machinery. Quite a ways away in the distance are two figures, indisputably humanoid, and plainly not robotic. One is dressed in gold and green, the other in red and white.

Karnak: This cannot be!!

Rikasa: Karnak…is it…

Rikasa: …Is it…the Kree?

Triton: No, Rikasa! It is not the Kree! But we must get out of here, and swiftly!

Rikasa: Not the Kree? But…

Triton: Don’t you see, woman? My brother has miscalculated

 

PAGE SIXTEEN

Ninegrid.

Panel 1: Triple-sized panel. Now we’re looking back towards our Inhuman friends, who hover in the distance on this chamber’s threshold…in the foreground we see that the figures Rikasa mistook for two Kree are actually Thena and Makkari, consulting about something.

Triton: …We are not in some abandoned Kree research station, at all!

Triton: …We are in the home of THE ETERNALS!!

 

Panel 2: Gorgon’s head, in profile, mouth open, shocked.

Gorgon: Agon’s Genes!

 

Panel 3: Rikasa’s profile. She looks very worried.

Rikasa: Karnak

Rikasa: Triton is right. We must get out of here. Now!

 

Panel 4: Karnak’s face, not looking ahead as the others, but turned to one side, out-panel, to look at Rikasa.

Karnak: But…they cannot detect us…?

 

Panel 5: Rikasa’s dialogue continues in caption, as we enjoy a close-up of Thena looking downward, mildly puzzled, looking quite lazy and sultry, very slightly distracted from what Makkari (perhaps just represented by a red arm at the left side of the panel?) is pointing out to her.

Rikasa (capt.): “The female Eternal’s mind…it goes everywhere! She is thinking about the space in the room!”

 

Panel 6: Same shot, Thena turns her head to where Makkari is, smiling very slightly. Rikasa’s dialogue contines in caption, this time breaking with my Brad Meltzer convention by being on the bottom edge of the panel instead of at the top or just…you know, floating around….

Thena: Makkari

Thena: Do you hear something?

Rikasa: “We have seconds!”

 

Panel 7: Makkari’s smiling face.

Makkari: You mean, like mice, Thena?

 

PAGE SEVENTEEN

Ninegrid.

Panel 1: Slightly smaller than a regular panel. Makkari’s hand moves towards his upper arm, Mother Box-style, presses a contact there. The sound effect is a punctuationless “TEK”.

 

Panel 2: Almost double-sized panel. What look like tiny missiles shoot out from the back of Makkari’s suit, arcing out into the right-hand side of the panel, to where the Inhumans are.

 

Panel 3: Slightly smaller than a regular panel, filling out the tier, and a sliver of Makkari’s smile.

Makkari: Why, whatever are you talking about?

 

Panel 4: The Inhumans stand in defensive postures as the missiles land at their feet and behind them and all around them, releasing some sort of gas.

Karnak: Rikasa!!

 

Panel 5: Double panel. A thick greenish-yellow vapour fills about a third of the left side of the panel, with most of the right side taken up with Rikasa, who has her shoulder bent, hands extended, fingers worked into claws, back pressed against the right panel border. The gas doesn’t make it to the Inhumans. It’s stopped, almost as if by a force-field, except the ragged edge of the gas is turning into large blocky pixels as it approaches Rikasa’s hands..

Rikasa (under strain): I am…running out…of pieces to work with, Karnak…!

 

Panel 6: Triton turns to Gorgon.

Triton: We must not be seen, Gorgon! Lockjaw…!

 

Panel 7: Close-up on Lockjaw, growling as he determinedly tries to teleport – the bright teleporter light starts to spring up around him…

Gorgon: (off-panel) Lockjaw! Home!!

 

Panel 8: But then in true comic-booky fashion his own power is fed back against him. Big fat Kirby dots go everywhere, messing up the transport light, and he falls back in obvious pain….

Gorgon: (off-panel) LOCKJAW!!

 

PAGE EIGHTEEN

Ninegrid.

Panel 1: Double panel. Just Thena’s eyes, looking sinister, set in a Byrne-like golden cosmic light. She speaks in captions.

Thena (capt.): I am closing the doors, little mice.

Thena (capt.): I have all the time in the world, to find you.

 

Panel 2: Rikasa’s face, also now surrounded by Kirby dots…desperately hanging on. Thena continues in caption.

Thena (capt.): And I will find you…

Rikasa: KARNAK!

 

Panel 3: Karnak grabs Gorgon by the arm – Gorgon is trying to help Lockjaw, but can’t get close to him.

Karnak: GorgonCousin…we need you now! There is but one instant left to us!

Gorgon: Eh?

 

Panel 4: The tiniest slice of a panel possible, just on the barest sliver of Gorgon’s face. Perhaps seen just slightly from below, Bob Ross lighting, etc. Put a little tree in there…

Gorgon: Oh.

Gorgon: Yes

 

Panel 5: Double panel, minus the slice. Gorgon’s hoof comes down, and the Eternals go flying from the shockwave.

 

Panel 6: Triton is carrying Lockjaw over his shoulder, up the stairs…besides Black Bolt, he’s the Inhuman with the most natural strength, beating Gorgon by maybe twenty percent or more, maybe even approaching two-thirds of Namor’s strength, which would certainly be twenty percent over Gorgon – it says here. Rikasa follows. At the bottom of the stairs, Karnak has his hand on Gorgon’s shoulder.

Karnak: Now go.

Gorgon: No, Karnak. Triton carries Lockjaw; I will bring up the rear.

Karnak: …Yes. All right. I agree.

Gorgon: Good.

 

Panel 7: Double panel. Gorgon unsettles the Eternals with the stamp of a hoof again. We see his hoof; we see the Eternals go sprawling; perhaps this panel is on an angle, with Gorgon’s hoof in the top left foreground, and the bouncing Eternals in the bottom right background.

 

PAGE NINETEEN

Ninegrid.

Panel 1: The Inhumans rush up the stairs, Triton leading with Lockjaw over his shoulder, Karnak next with his scanner in his hand. Triton goes to turn into the broad corridor they came down, instead of up the steel ladder we clearly see above him in this passage…

Triton: Here

Karnak: No! Keep going! They are waking up!

 

Panel 2: They are on the ladder. Karnak turns down to Rikasa.

Karnak: Put my words in Gorgon’s ear, if you can.

Rikasa: …

Rikasa: Yes, all right.

 

Panel 3: Rikasa casts a rueful glance down at us, past us.

 

Rikasa (capt., and a regular size font now): “Gorgon…”

 

Panel 4: Double panel. The Inhumans make it up onto the roof of the Eternal’s Olympia complex (for that’s what it is, unless we change it around to be the Titanos complex that Ikaris has ordered Thena and Makkari to reconstruct, and they were inspecting the vast Eternal computer cores there…or unless it was someplace else, too…I mean, I’m just saying…it doesn’t make any difference, except to where the initial new “hot spot” is on the Inhumans’ map of Earth), and as they exit the building they’re all strung out in a line. Triton is first; he’s laid Lockjaw down. Karnak and Rikasa are close behind.

Triton: Speak, Lockjaw!

Triton: He’s not moving, Karnak!

Rikasa: The fast one is below, Karnak.

Rikasa: He will be here in one minute. No more. Maybe less.

Rikasa: I have never seen space disappear like this…

Triton: Karnak, he won’t wake up!

Karnak: I

Karnak: I think I may have made an…an

 

Panel 5: We see Gorgon, in the middle distance, but all alone in the picture, hauling himself up off of the ladder and emerging from the building…

Gorgon: Blood of the Kree! Hooves and ladder rungs, by Agon! It’s too much to ask!

Triton: (off-panel) Gorgon! Lockjaw isn’t…

Gorgon: I know. Don’t despair, Inhumans.

 

Panel 6: We’re looking up at Gorgon from Lockjaw’s perspective. He’s grinning, teeth showing. The sun is all Brian Hitch-like behind his head.

Gorgon: Lockjaw. It’s me. Gorgon. Your friend. Wake up.

 

Panel 7: Big close-up on Lockaw’s eye, as it opens.

Rikasa: (off-panel) The fast one is here! He’s one second awa…!

 

Panel 8: Lockjaw’s eye finds the Moon in the sky. In daylight. Crescent phase (and make sure it’s the right crescent phase…!)

 

PAGE TWENTY

Ninegrid.

Panel 1: Sextuple size panel mini-SPLASH. The Inhumans reappear in Attilan, recalling their arrival in Olympia (or wherever) by not being where they expected to be (although perhaps they are still in the same clockwise arrangement). Instead, they’re in a public square, being festooned with garlands, set up with stalls, etc. etc. It’s a party, apparently. Lockjaw is okay, by the way…we can plainly see that. And in a pictorial order strictly up to the artist, our heroes exclaim:

Karnak: By the Mists!

Gorgon: Kree’s Evil!

Triton: Agon’s Genes!

Rikasa: Black Bolt’s Name — what a swoop!

 

Panel 2: Rikasa bends down and embraces a slobbering Lockjaw, who’s now totally okay (no Inhuman, nor no super-being either, ever had Lockjaw’s constitution!).

Rikasa: Oh, Lockjaw! Lockjaw, you’re all right! And you’re such a good, good

 

Panel 3: Lockjaw bounds away. Because he’s sensed Crystal. Indeed, that’s why they’re all in this public square at all, because Lockjaw wanted Crystal.

Rikasa: …Hey! [Yes, Jonathan, Inhumans could theoretically say “hey”. It’s like “hello”. It’s not like Reed Richards saying “yeah” or anything…]

 

Panel 4: Gorgon accosts a man stringing garlands.

Gorgon: HEY!

Garland Man: Yes, Gorgon?

Gorgon: What’s all this noise about, fellow?

Garland Man: Why…don’t you know? Medusa announced it an hour ago: the Fantastic Four are coming to Attilan!

Garland Man: It’s a holiday!

 

PAGE TWENTY-ONE

Sixgrid.

Panel 1: A curvaceous form stands darkened in the foreground, hands sternly on hips, looking at Karnak, Gorgon, and Triton, with Rikasa kind of unnoticed in the background.

Crystal: Aha! There you all are! It’s about time!

Crystal: And you’ve upset Lockjaw! Where have you been taking him?

 

Panel 2: Close-up on the three Royal Family members looking shifty and nervous. Because Inhumans may be bad news, sure, but they love their mamas!

Gorgon: Uh

 

Panel 3: Looking down from over Crystal’s head at the three main Inhumans, Rikasa behind them, shrinking away. Gorgon spreads his hands as he steps in front of his cousins.

Gorgon: …We just popped in for a minute, cousin.

Gorgon: Karnak and Triton’s instruments needed calibrating…and, it’s a very large and nearby signal

 

Panel 4: View of Crystal from over our heroes’ heads. Gorgon’s arm-positioning is supposed to be placating.

Crystal: Not the Watcher’s House?!

Gorgon: Well…

Crystal: Gorgon, you know perfectly well that Lockjaw is scared of the Watcher!

Gorgon: He isn’t “scared” of him, cousin! Not at all! As I’ve told you again and again

 

Panel 5: Crystal leans down to pet Lockjaw, still looking up at our boys for signs of contrition.

Crystal: You! Sometimes I think you’d be happier if Lockjaw were some sort of cavalry animal, instead of a sweet and loveable puppy

 

Panel 6: Same picture as before, except Crystal and Lockjaw fade away in the glow of his teleportation.

Crystal: Well as far as I’m concerned, you can just all walk up to the Palace to see Reed and Sue! Lockjaw deserves a rest

 

 

PAGE TWENTY-TWO

Ninegrid.

Panel 1: Double panel. Karnak, Triton, and Gorgon all exchange glances.

Gorgon: Well

Karnak: That’s that.

Triton: Well done, cousin.

Gorgon: Yes. But we might as well get walking.

Rikasa: (off-panel) Karnak

 

Panel 2: She stands shyly in the left middle ground, while part of Karnak’s form is in the right foreground.

Rikasa: I suppose this is where we must part. For now.

Karnak: Eh?

 

Panel 3: Karnak extends his arms, grabs her by the elbows. From a view perhaps ten feet over her left shoulder, so we’re facing him obliquely.

Karnak: Why, not at all, Rikasa. Certainly not.

Karnak: You’ll come to the Palace with me.

 

Panel 4: Double panel, we see them in profile, or near-profile. Karnak is on the left, as the dialogue indicates.

Karnak: Of course the seats at the head table will already have been set

Rikasa: Yes…I understand

Karnak: But perhaps you could help Crystal attend on Susan Richards tomorrow, when she walks through the town as she usually does.

 

Panel 5: Half-panel. Just Rikasa’s smiling, delighted face.

Rikasa: You mean…

Rikasa: …really meet Susan Richards?

Rikasa: Really?

 

Panel 6: Double panel plus a half, from far up and on an angle. Our heroes move through the crowd up to the illuminated Royal Palace, almost lost in the crowd, except Gorgon is in front clearing the way. Karnak’s dialogue continues in caption.

Karnak (capt.): “Yes, really.”

Karnak (capt.): “Whyever not, after all?”

Gorgon: Make way, Inhumans! Make haste to make way, if you would!

 

Gorgon: There are not all that many hours of daylight left…!

 

BORDER: Across the bottom of the page, we read the magical words – “Next Issue: BLUE SHADOWS!”

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14 responses to “Karnak: Conclusion

  1. Well, isn’t this just * cinematic * ?

    I’m not sure I’m competent to criticize, even. This exercise of yours is making it very clear how every line and panel counts in comics. The result is a matter of the right impact made at the right moment, and you don’t get many second chances. But how particular can a reader be, at that level of detail?

    The big thing, though: I was reading the first half to see what kind of background you’re building, but I read this half to see what happens. That would be half the battle, surely.

    Highlights:

    Page Thirteen, Panel 2. Okay, this is a good example. The game is afoot! We have already seen the map and, we know from what has gone before that the terrain of operations is (1) planet-wide and (2) 25,000 years deep. The map has become a symbol of this breadth – especially because it is a map without common human reference points – and so it is charged with the potential of the unknown. In this charged context, Karnak’s single word, “Activity.”, manifests out own eagerness to go forth and see, and nervousness about what we might find. We also get another clue to Karnak himself in the conclusive full stop: the man lives for curiosity.

    Page Fourteen, Panel 1. “As members of the Royal Family, should we instead leave that risk to others, Triton?” These people sure do ask a lot of rhetorical questions! But in this case, it’s the right thing to put there, even though the answer is “no”, and all present know it. For one thing, it states loud and clear that the Royal Family are what they are by virtue of making the sacrifices and taking the risks that preserve the society. Thus, the Inhumans are a vital exotic feudalism and not a decadent one. For another thing, it’s a charming homage to a generation of Marvel writers who had to get significant information across in the interstices between action sequences, and had to beg us readers’ licence to do so. So yeah, this is how the Inhumans talk, and if you had tried for a more subtle, by-implication form of expression, we’d be missing out on something of the old Marvel magic. (On the other hand, if you set to imitate the o.M.m. exactly, it would be kitschy, supercilious and lacking in conviction.)

    Page Fourteen, Panel 4. “I have already begun.” Meaning, “You and I both know, Lord Karnak, that you invited me in on this in the hope that I would shoulder my end of a regal responsibility as sternly as you, so that we could relate to one another as comrades in arms, as opposed to the other relation we are obliged to form, which has you so ill at ease. Well I can, just watch me.” You go, girl. Same for her initiative in the next few panels.

    Page Sixeen, Panels 5-7. Delicious. Not only Eternals in a sinister mood, but, whoops, are we out of our *league* all of a sudden! We know the Inhumans are no cowards, if they’d stumbled upon Ronan the Accuser and a couple of Sentries, merely desperate odds, we’d expect them to square off bravely. But when both sides know at once who’s going to have to flee if they can, that really states something about levels of evolution. Especially that Thena can change the game just by *thinking about it*. “Mice” is nice indeed.

    Page Seventeen, Panels 5. “Running out of pieces”. I did wonder how you would exploit such an oblique power as Rikasa’s. Very clever. See also…

    Page Nineteen, Panels 4. “I have never seen space disappear lie this”. You must be proud of that line. You only have to be able to invert sense and nonsense like that once in a while, to make it seem that anything is possible.

    Page Nineteen, Panels 8. Lockjaw’s eye on the Moon. You’ve happened on a classical image – the dying beast with one eye turned to Heaven. I’ve seen St George’s dragon painted like that, and horses dying on battlefields. The poignancy is, the poor creature has no words to soften its knowledge of mortality. In this case it works, subliminally and powerfully. Another time, something like it might be overdone.

    Page Twenty, Panel 1. Yeah! I can’t resist suggesting, though, with Rikasa having the last word… Make everybody love her:

    [Wide-eyed, face flushed, grinning goofy with adrenaline] Black Bolt’s name – what a swoop!

    Page Twenty-one. Mommy Crystal. It’s growing on me. Makes perfect sense. The girl has always had her way.

    Right! Plenty to like about the story. There might be a couple of spots where the narrative hangs for a moment. I’m thinking about Gorgon’s impatience and Triton’s hesitancy – but after all they did have to be established. Just one caveat: rhetorical questions are good arrows in your quiver, but you’ve got to make them hit. Most of the RQs here are justified, or marginal, but the one that doesn’t work is Triton’s: “Don’t you see, woman?” No, how could she? Nobody had an inkling they’d be walking into the Eternals. It’s unreasonable. Now, that could work with Namor, who’s an unreasonable guy; even with Gorgon if he’d been irritated. But not Triton. He has a tradition of, you might say oceanic, serenity. He’s one of those characters like the Vision, whose psyche partakes of the alienness of his element. Triton, I think, would only look distressed as he stated plainly, “My brother has miscalculated.”

    I gotta say you’re on your way. Seamless pacing is a kind of miracle, it’s amazing anyone ever gets it. But you’ve got a good grip on the multum-in-parvo that’s the mainspring of it.

  2. I’m back.

    Not to mention, flattered!

    I made that “swoop” change right away, Jonathan — figured it was just too good to waste, and also it has the effect of softening the “new” oath I stuck in there. I figured the younger generation of Inhumans might have started to use Black Bolt in oaths among themselves, but knowing it might not sit 100% perfectly with the older generations they usually avoid using it when their elders are around. Except in this case, Rikasa is just too stimulated to remember not to let it slip out. A bit of overselling? I think so; which is why the swoop thing was manna to me. So, thanks! And of course you have read Rikasa just right…starting to like her a bit, aren’t you? Me, too.

    Also, you’re quite right about my mischaracterization of Triton — this was me attempting to channel some of the goofier Roy Thomas Avengers dialogue (as the inverted-sense line you liked was me tipping my hat to Grant Morrison), but as you say, space is at a premium, and it was a wasted move: I could’ve used that opportunity to better effect by drawing Triton a little more clearly. Your notes on the Vision/Triton comparison are instructive (Roy’s Vision was always to me like the Mr. Spock in “The Menagerie” — the yelling Spock — and Roy sometimes dumbed down his characters into a vocal sameness that made them all yelling Spocks, it must be said…), as is your reading of the symbolic heft of the Kreetech chart…which I missed, if you can believe it (Morrison wouldn’t’ve missed it, damn it!), so thanks for spelling it out…I’ll try my best not just to use it, now, but to utilize it. And also, you’re right, I do like using the retro-Marvel tricks, right down to the incessantly rhetorical questions…Scipio just did a brilliant little something on how Silver Age Legion dialogue sounded clunky because it was transliterated from Interlac (shades of Tolkien!), and like you I figure the Inhumans aren’t the Inhumans unless they just plain talk like that…additionally, as I mentioned before I’m a songwriter, and one of the tricks of that trade is to carefully manage your flirtation with cliche, which I can’t help but see as an important consideration here, too. Cliche is indispensible to songwriting, you see; toying with it is a) half the fun, and b) the most important skill. But God help you if you flirt so much with it that you give it the wrong idea about your intentions, and end up leading it on!

    Crystal, too, has not got all the space she deserves, something I plan to correct in “Blue Shadows” — and she’s a funny one, because on one hand it’s clear to me that she’s got to be a little pushy with her family members, and yet there are two other Crystals in play, one being the Crystal who’s been through the wringer and has thus ended up with divided loyalties, and who perhaps feels a little stuck on the Moon…and the other is the Crystal from Lee/Kirby FF, who’s always been smart, sweet, and selfless. Well, they do grow up, don’t they? And they get complicated…but that second (or is it third?) Crystal is our Crystal too, and that’s also something I plan to touch on before I’m done.

    Meanwhile, on the Eternals — wow, glad you liked it, I thought it’d be fun…I tried to suggest an added little problem there, which is that according to my recollection of the Gruenwald Gymnastics in the What If? backup features, the Inhumans and Eternals are supposed to have a pretty strict non-interference deal between them, and so Karnak et. al. are so not supposed to be there that it isn’t even funny…but, yeah, I really wanted to throw in a little power/evolution yardstick, as well. Essentially, if you think about it, the Eternals are a race entirely composed of Black Bolts, only way less predictable, so…yeah, cripes, run away! If you’re lucky enough to be a baseline human being, that’s one thing. But if you’re not, the Eternals should make you pretty darn nervous. Also, thank you, I’m actually extremely pleased about Lockjaw’s eye rolling towards heaven, but I was conscious of it being a bit rushed and risky…so to say your approval is gratifying there is really a bit of an understatement.

    One other thing I feel compelled to mention (since nobody else is complaining about it) is that I feel the use of “Lord” and “Lady” honorifics among the Inhumans is a bit of a kludge; Lee and Kirby never had any titled honorifics of this kind (outside of “my liege” for Black Bolt) because, I think, the idea was that the Royal Family’s given names/identities are their titles…and I agree with this wholeheartedly, but I needed the device in order to further my little thematic bit about “sacrifice”, particularly as it relates to Gorgon. Anyway there’s no doubt that when average Inhumans are talking about their R.F. in everyday conversation, they knock off the Lord and Lady business…after all, who doesn’t know who freakin’ Triton is? It’s absurd. Just call him “Triton”.

    So, that’s a shortcoming, but it’s a designed-in shortcoming. Hey, there’s plenty of other shortcomings in this, that aren’t designed-in! So at least I’ll claim this one, as having been necessary.

    But I’m surprised you didn’t mention the biggest Easter egg in this second part of the story, Jonathan! Or does “The Mirror And The Lamp!” not work for you as a knuckleball homage to FF #1?

    Hey, it was my birthday yesterday. This comment of yours has been a wonderful present, and I couldn’t appreciate your thoughts and your interest more.

    Particularly since, should anyone else comment, they can now know that the gift of tolerance has already been delivered, and so they can offer a different gift if they like.

    Cheers! I’m going to go and knock off some “Blue Shadows” now, and drink some beer!

  3. Oh yeah, and if I had to pick an imaginary penciller for this, it’s suddenly in my head that Defenders-era Keith Giffen, before he gathered all his by-now-considerable expertise, would be a perfect journeyman artist to go along with this first novice script of mine. Yes, let it all hang out, I say! The seams are going to show anyhow!

    It’s possible I may change my mind for the next one, though. Which I’m off to scribble on. I must say, this is kinda fun. I mean, it’s not a super-fantastic job by anyone’s standards, but it’s highly diverting nonetheless. Like a meme! Of one.

  4. Giffen inked by Klaus Janson, I hope.

    I liked it- I didn’t see the Eternals coming at all. I didn’t know the Inhumans & Eternals have a non-interference pact, but I still got the impact of the scene. Where is Rikasa from? I don’t think I’ve ever noticed the character.

    One tiny criticism- the multiple and frequent oaths didn’t work for me. They sounded forced. Other than that, I really enjoyed the character interplay, and I’m looking forward to reading “Blue Shadows.”

  5. Well, natch!

    Glad you liked it, Mike…and I think you’re right about the oaths, there are a couple too many. Still, sometimes it seems like all the Inhumans ever do is sit around and swear by things…then again, swearing’s pretty common in superheroland, I guess. There’s a hilarious bit in Gerber’s Defenders where Daredevil stands and watches Luke Cage, Son of Satan, Bruce Banner, and…Clea, I think…all react to something on TV with their individual oaths. “Eyes of Oshtur!” “Good Lord!” “By the Hadean Chimes!” “Sweet sister!” It’s wild.

    But, point taken!

    And I just made Rikasa up, that’s why you don’t remember her.

  6. Many happy returns, then!

    I confess I miss “The Lamp and the Mirror” reference. I remember FF#1 dearly, but it’s been a long time since I pored over a copy. For lack of other guidance, I read Thena as the lamp, illuminating all space, and Rikasa as the mirror, transposing images. What was it really?

    My mind’s eye had the story in the Marvel house style of the ’70s, say like those Gerry Conway stories. But give me my druthers? I think Barry Windsor-Smith in his Conan days. He had a nice line in lofty prismatic architectures, and nimble, lightly-posed characters. Still has, although I think he clings too much to his special stylization.

    Sure I like Rikasa. Never hard to get me to like a doll on first essay of her powers. What’s more impressive is that you can dispose me to like Karnak. Don’t you find he generally comes across as taciturn, suspicious, underpowered and short? And he wears white, which says fussily fastidious. Now, you’re attributing him more mental scope than is usual, and more initiative; which you realize in part, so far; but I want to hear more of his particular thinking, since he’s the star of a mini-series. Philosopher, yes?

    I’d read a thoughtful Karnak as a conservative; strictly self-disciplined, supporting every one of Attilan’s traditions – but too smart and honest to think that people can just be positioned like Lego, either personally or genetically. Hence, doubts, and seeking of resolutions. Not the kind of thing that comes out in striking visual sequences, unlike Gorgon’s gung-ho or Medusa’s penchant for the sensual. Wordy stuff in fact, and you’d have to hold the writer back from filling whole panels with words if it were, oh, Moench, or god help us, de Matteis.

    So you’ve got me curious about what you’re going to do. Shan’t clutter the exercise with any more guesses. Now read on.

  7. Or Don McGregor!!!

    Yes, the Marvel house style of the 70s…how I miss it. Anyway, the mirror and the lamp is a multivalent symbol, and Thena and Rikasa certainly fit right into it, so that’s a damn good reading. Hopefully the symbol will continue to work its magic elsewhere as well, though. Particularly since if this were a real Inhumans miniseries “The Mirror And The Lamp” would be its overall title.

    The actual expression has to do with…well, a lot of things, really, but I got it out of Romanticism, first: art, like the mind itself, is not usually a mirror held up passively to nature, but also a lamp that actively illuminates it, and in this way the act of seeing also defines the object it regards. Nature isn’t just there, being straightforwardly reflected by its own light: the “beam” of consciousness gives it its shape as it marks it out, too. Very resonant image, this: think quantum mechanics, the looking-glass self of social psychology, really anything at all from Newton’s time onwards…think Karnak’s superpower, if you like! And the Earth, the Moon, the Sun…and the four Inhumans being like a parallel of the FF in this story, except Rikasa doesn’t call Triton a coward because I thought that’d be too obvious, and of course the Eternals aren’t all that much like the Mole Man and his subterranean monsters, even if Gorgon/Johnny acts like they are when he cuts them off… I put rather a lot of light/shadow/reflection stuff in this thing in general, actually, and I’m pretty pleased with how it’s all cooking down. Hope that reference adds something to the reading experience for you, Jonathan!

    And Karnak…I do think he’s a rather conservative guy, but also he’s living in the most progressive time in Inhuman history, when what’s needed more than anything is some idea of a future, or some idea of a past. Someone said of post-Soviet Russia that it was a country not in search of its future, because it already lived it, from 1917-1989…what it really needs is an idea of past, but “past” is something it’s never really had: no mythology of shared self-creation, just a thousand years of living under Czars, or something. Lots of Soviet institutions, arts, architecture, industry etc. were in a way straight out of Things To Come, and it was supposed to be “the future” that they were living in…but the future came a cropper, in the end, and so how now? What odds? Makes me think about Inhuman society: I bet they don’t have real history as we think of it, just some epic semi-Homeric poetry…they live in the now, exercising their powers as Art of Self, only symbolizing the future, as their past is really just a nightmare that they’ve rejected and cast off. Only noodling here, but…I think the question for Karnak is how to move forward, individually and societally, without outraging the Inhumans’ natural insularity and resistance to change. We might think of spaceships: obviously they have a couple, but they’re out in the universe now, and maybe they should have a couple more. Daring idea: most of the time the Inhumans are themselves their own specialized technological gear, after all. But every possibility is a problem, too: shouldn’t they be working on better ways to tolerate Earth’s atmosphere than Reed Richards’ anti-pollution drug? How long will the Blue Area machinery keep running? Indefinitely? What happens if they need to relocate? A whole bunch of questions (that wouldn’t need asking if I was including all Inhumans continuity in this story, but there ya go) arise naturally from the matter of their new situation on the Moon, and most of these have many different possible answers, but which answers are the ones that will also answer the needs of Inhuman society? Karnak’s a conservative, but he’s a leader of his people too, and as much as anyone has to think about the necessity of contingencies and change. Right now I see him as going for a kind of “as above, so below” thing: if he can find a good accomodation with the future for himself, then maybe that means all Inhumans can do the same, and then as a society they can find a way to resolve the problem of how they’re to live and what they’re to be, for the next thousand years. Since they first appeared, it’s been nothing but massive, earthshaking crises for the Inhumans; you’ve got to think they’re sick of it, and want to rediscover some kind of continuity and serenity in their lives. But, does that just mean going to sleep?

    Just spitballing, here.

    Okay, dinnertime.

  8. Forgive my lack of comment on this — it’s not for lack of interest, because a lot grabbed me here, but lack of time to sit down and read the whole thing through as it deserves. And yes, I know “I’m not commenting right now” is the most superfluous and annoying comment possible…but I didn’t want you to think I was ignoring this!

    And happy several-days-after-your-birthday! Hmm, there’s an idea for a new line of greeting cards for procrastinators…

  9. Thanks, RAB! And take your time, although I’m champing at the bit…this bit went slightly better, I think, don’t you agree? You know, I could see doing this as a job. Lots to learn, so lots of room to move about in.

    But getting back to our old discussion about how Black Bolt is just a full-on superhero name, full-on superhero iconography, and Kirby just dares you to ask questions like “why does he have a mask on?”…when he just does, and you accept it, so just accept it. Later “rationalization”-type modifications notwithstanding. But, I really want to say something about the Fantastic Voyage cartoon, here…as a kid watching that, of course I identified most strongly of all with Busby Birdwell, who after all was very much like a little kid’s representative in that fantasy…and not “a kid, but supercompetent” either, but in part a kid because he was supercompetent. Well, don’t all little kids see themselves that way, really? This gets back to Karnak, and Jonathan’s appraisal of his sticky, stuffy, self-absorbed personality: one of the reasons I wanted to make this thing about Karnak is that I always saw myself in him as a kid, I always in fact totally related to that dickish personality of his, and found it magnetic. But, sure! Right? After all, I related to Bruce Banner and the Hulk, too, and it wasn’t because either of them were nice. Just as Jim Roeg said that the real appeal of superhero comics is the glamour that comes across in weird little sublime moments of art and perspective, the identification comes from the way the characters represent little-kid personality tics. The world won’t tell you it’s good to be self-absorbed, but in a way the comics will! Bastard Karnak who’s so limitlessly focussed on explaining how cool his power is to all that will listen…Gorgon with his “RAAAAH!”, his blustery “this is my power, and it’s gonna kick your ass!” fixation…even Medusa, always going on and on about her stupid hair…and then the genius bit, Black Bolt, the identification of authority with guilt. Of becoming-adult with guilt? Right? It’s kind of unbelievable; it’s really great. It’s the most clever damn thing in the universe, I sometimes think. So in the Lee/Kirby stories, I like that Karnak is like a dickish child always talking about how goddamn special he is (even compared to the other dickish children), because I totally see myself in that. But more: I saw myself in the representation of different parts and different accents of self-absorption, like little Minsky-ish motivational critters or modules in the developing brain…Lord Of The Flies, only with obnoxious superpowers. Psychological microcosm stuff. That’s what the Inhumans are to me, and that’s why my run at this is never going to be like the real Inhumans in my brain, because I’m not Crazy Dynamic-Obsessed Jack, and I can’t present them that way…

    But, that’s why I picked Karnak. Because I like that sonofabitch because of his sonofabitchness, his prissiness, his terrific self-regard. Which if you think about it is yet another resonance that “the mirror and the lamp” has — the unreflective action of the egotistical child…not being able to just do it, like Jack did, I became interested in how to explore it, and make it make sense with the grown-up’s concern: letting egotism go.

    That’s basically how I see this story.

    Wow, did I just write all that? You know, strangely, I’m going to have to say, for all its exaltation in our culture…yes, beer is even better than that. Okay, more later. Looking forward to reading your observations, RAB.

    Oooooh…head hurts.

  10. At the end of Paul Jenkins & Jae Lee’s first Inhumans issue, they address the Inhumans’ tendency towards dickishness by answering “What would Black Bolt say if he could speak?” (without, you know, blowing up half the planet)

    You made Rikasa up? Cool. She fits right in.

    Why does Black Bolt wear a mask? Because he was a character debuting in a Fantastic Four comic. I don’t think Jack gave it a second thought. Incidentally, Black Bolt is my favorite Kirby design- I love the sleekness of the costume, the wings, and, yes, the tuning fork.

    I think the Inhumans are just too odd to ever make it as a big success- super hair, a bulky satyr, a big-headed guy with a non-visual power, a leader who never speaks, a fish-man who lives on the moon?!? Weird stuff- that’s why I’ve always liked them. Grant Morrison on Inhumans would blow my mind, but sell about 20-30,000, at best.

  11. I’ve sent an e-mail with technical comments, but…that analysis of Karnak and Busby Birdwell as abstractions of childish behavior? You just blew my mind. That’s so on target it’s not even funny. If strong drink isn’t slowing you down, I may have to take more serious measures to eliminate you as a rival.

  12. You like? Also I see maybe the purest expression of the old original Marvel method in comparisons between Clark Kent/Superman, and Bruce Banner/Hulk. Because being Bruce Banner is like being Superman, except it sucks!

    Got the email; will be replying to it shortly! Ish.

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