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It's a deconstruction... no, it's a deliberately ironical shattering of Karnak. First Ellis builds him up as this cool hyper-competent philosophical badass, and then he finds the flaw in him, kicks it very, very hard, and lets us see the cracks.

It's a peek at the what's behind the curtain of cool-looking ultraviolence and nihilism. From a psychological, emotional point of view, Karnak isn't well. That's a rather ballsy move to make after you rebuilt a C-list character into a niche favorite; it's done to Bruce Wayne in about one issue out of five (to an extreme, interesting, but probably inconsistent degree in I am Suicide), but then, Batman is Batman, with his huge cultural standing and long-accepted spectrum of psychological descriptions from Batman:TAS "good, mostly sane man coping with lingering trauma and depression in a weird way" to the late Miller's clinical psychopath.


I think that last panel is quite impressive, and even more of a reframing of the story and the character than the unexpected and critical issue before. Showing a male, emotionally detached, hyper-violent, stone-cold badass comic book character deeply hit by old, structural grief, very possibly crying, and arguably suffering from lifelong depression is definitely something.

Personal relevance to my own issues aside, mind you.

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