Major Karnage is a Saturday night party of a novel with machine gun pacing, insane characters and wild plot developments. Karnage is a psychologically ravaged veteran of a pan-Asian war against an enemy known only as Uncle Stanley. Twenty years in an asylum with the remains of his platoon hasn't mellowed his rage a whit. In fact, his Hulk-like fury has to be controlled by a sanity patch which threatens to blow his head off of his shoulders if he ever gets completely out of control. It gauges his anger in a terrorist rainbow of tasty warning colors leading up to death like Peachy Keen, Daffodil and Strawberry Shortcake. Add to this his flashback freakouts whenever anyone mentions The War and you've got a very short fuse about to burn itself out at any moment.
And then the alien invasion comes. Karnage, a being of pure determination but with no plan of which to speak, goes forth into the fray.
Karnage is James Bond resourceful and plays life by ear which infuses the novel with spontaneity and surprise. We never know where the story's going because although Karnage can conceive of a goal, the steps toward that goal's achievement only occur to him on the fly. Along the way we get those smoke-sucking aliens as well as cultists, monsters, a police force dressed as cats and a Disney-esque company which runs the world. And as much as I've just given to you, there are still twists and situations of which you'll never dream.
This is wonderfully ridiculous, cartoony fun that WILL make you laugh, that WILL keep you reading and reading quickly. Zajac channels the spirit of Robert E. Howard for his action scenes and there are a hell of a lot of action scenes. The more mellow scenes actually begin to stand out as anomalies. Potentially boring transitions are skipped through a trick that becomes a joke in itself after the first dozen times it's employed. This man gets knocked out more than any ten ordinary heroes.
But cracking through the two-dimensional facade of this Twenty-First century answer to pulp fiction reveals enough depth to satisfy the reader. Over time we discover that Karnage is not your stereotypical mindless brute. He cares deeply for his people and this is what truly drives him on and ultimately proves to be his salvation.
Major Karnage is an extra-dimensional amusement park ride that's somehow all short climbs and long, thrilling descents. I highly recommend it.