Welcome, all. This is D. C. here to throw down yet again on a book I was hopeful for.
(Don’t miss Kay’s review on the Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles miniseries today, too!).
Coming off of my enjoyment over Jae Lee’s fantastic take on the Inhumans, I decided to give this a shot:
What’s the plot?
Uncanny Avengers, Vol. 1: Time Crush covers the first few issues by Charles Soule and Steve McNiven, known for their collaboration on Death of Wolverine. Like all other All-New, All-Different Marvel books, takes place 8 months after the end of Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Wars event (my review on that can be seen here). The Inhumans, who are very publicly advocating good will and integration with the rest of the human world, aid former king Black Bolt as he rectifies a past deal he made with time-travelling villain Kang the Conqueror–a move that causes obvious conflict between Kang and the Inhumans.
How’s the creative team?
Charles Soule. I enjoyed his primal and simple script in Death of Wolverine. I have found his take on the current Daredevil series adequate; I think he characterizes Matt Murdock well.
I do not like his portrayal of the cast of Uncanny Inhumans at all.
Perhaps I am biased because I thought Jae Lee portrayed the Inhumans in his 1999 series extremely well. They were distinct individuals with idiosyncrasies of their own, even Lockjaw and Black Bolt. When you see a stellar portrayal, it is difficult to move from that. It is also impossible to completely replicate another writer (possibly). But you would hope that a writer will consider the intricacies and nuances that a prior writer gave a character to give said character both life and individuality.
I do not feel Charles Soule’s take shows that. The characters all speak the same, with the obvious exception of former X-Man Beast. The Inhumans and the Nuhumans all speak similarly. Even the Inhuman Royal Family lacks diction and behavior one would expect of a regal line. They don’t come off as individuals to me. Just a throng of…plain people. Boring, plain, similar people. Even the Human Torch.
I appreciate Soule making use of the Nuhumans, but even they aren’t compelling to me. I don’t find any of these characters interesting. They’re just the latest set of neophytes brought to the Marvel universe.
No, I take that back. I did take a liking to Reader, even if he came off as whiny and combatant. I liked the severe limitations of his abilities. Limitations of one’s powers is always something I enjoyed, because it lends something to his or her character and development.
However, it was the story that carried me through Volume 1. Black Bolt’s effort to liberate his son Ahura from Kang was a valiant effort that any parent (presumably) can relate to, even if he was reneging on his deal. I also enjoyed Kang’s portrayal in this arc very much. Soule really wrote him as a honorable, vindictive, skillful and calculating man. I give Soule props for an exciting villain.
Steve McNiven’s art is a plus for this series. I always liked his sharp and clear pencils when it comes to characters and anatomy. McNiven really tackles the high volume of detail you might expect when dealing with a villain like Kang.
Other issues that burned my @$$
As I wrote this, I realized there were more issues I had with Uncanny Inhumans. Here we go:
- The only issue I had with Kang’s portrayal was in what Beast said regarding himself. Beast claimed to be attuned to time alterations, given how many times he’s mucked with it. But when the Inhumans time travel to a pivotal moment, even if their doubles are present, how is it that Kang, with years of experience and expertise ahead of Beast in time travel and manipulation, was unable to detect them? That is a hole I find unsettling.
- Where is this book going? What is its goal as a series? The Inhumans are certainly fulfilling their goal of integration and being a part of the world. The world seems to be well-acclimated to them already. So…beyond that, what is their aim? Simply safe haven for the Nuhumans? I just don’t see a real, long-term goal.
- The surprising relationship between Medusa and Johnny Storm. Seriously? That doesn’t even feel like it should be a thing. Their relationship lacks passion and depth to me. Certainly the depth you’d have seen between Black Bolt and Medusa…or the depth that’s been seen between Johnny and Crystal, Medusa sister. Isn’t there a girl code about dating exes, even among the Inhumans?
But the most unsettling part of this series? I ignored the rants on social media that the Inhumans were substituting the X-Men in every way. Any praise and rants I would take with a grain of salt and judge a piece of work on my own.
And you know what? The Inhumans really do seem to be substituting the X-Men in almost every way:
- A segregated, disenfranchised group that expanded in number: dispersing the Phoenix Force for the X-Men, release of the terrigen mist for the Inhumans.
- Said disenfranchised group trying to make themselves a closer part of humanity through heroics: for the X-Men, it was during Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men run and when they relocated to San Francisco in Manifest Destiny; for the Inhumans, it is now.
- Both groups having dealt with sinister forces trying to make use of newly emerged members of their species: X-Men, it’s happened to Cannonball and others; you see the same happening in Uncanny Avengers.
- Both groups having segregated in general: the Inhumans, for most of their history; the X-Men, now in Limbo due to the M-Pox…the umpteenth culprit in their annihilation.
I had high hopes for Uncanny Inhumans, given my experience with the Inhumans. Charles Soule did write a compelling villain, and Steve McNiven’s art is as satisfying as always. However, I found the Inhumans as a whole to be uninteresting and severely lacking in individualism.
I’m also disheartened to see that Marvel is switching the Inhumans for the X-Men. And in my eyes, Soule is simply not up to par with making the Inhumans very interesting in the long run. Nothing in this book implies a real end goal, other than just to pump out issues.
Perhaps I need to read his prior Marvel Now! iteration of the Inhumans to find interesting characters. Because this arc was not a very encouraging jumping on point for me.