“…Remember one day you will die.”
Hey, hey, all. This is D. C. here to start some throwdowns–it’s been a good while, ugh. I have plenty planned, but let’s start here: Marvel’s new run, Royals.
What’s up with this?
For anyone who followed the Inhumans vs. X-Men crossover and the follow-up one-shot Inhumans: Prime, the Inhumans have officially lost the Terrigen mists on Earth, and a small envoy is off in space to find the true meaning (and hopefully reserves?) of Terrigen, aided by the dimension Kree ensign Noh-Varr (of Marvel Boy/Captain Marvel/Protector fame).
In a short phrase: I don’t like this, but I also think I’m coming from a strong bias.
- Al Ewing: I had a certain fondness for Al Ewing after he wrote an interesting run of the Ultimates. However, that shine wore off quickly when he scripted a very lackluster and unnecessarily silly run of U.S.Avengers. I gave this book a reluctant shot, hoping my reservations would be unfounded.While the mystery of what Terrigen actually is does carry its own mystique, the voices of the Inhumans bothers me too much. I became familiar with the Inhumans through Paul Jenkins’ work, and saw the Inhumans as having an air of majesty about them befitting a royal family, with voices that were very distinct.
I feel that majesty and individuality has been lost in the face of the modern, young Nuhumans. Even the royal family became mediocre and neutered to appeal to a modern audience, a sentiment I already stated regarding Charles Soule’s Uncanny Inhumans.
My biggest problem with Royals #2 was Crystal’s portrayal during the Chitauri attack (another problem I have with MCU elements being incorporated strongly in the comics: why are the Chitauri so prominent without achieving legitimacy?). As she readies to counter the swarm, Crystal immediately starts quoting video game lingo: “Ready, Player Two? Here comes a new challenger.”
Do you honestly expect me to believe that Crystal, an Inhuman mother who, for all intents and purposes, has never shown enough interest in fighting video games, let alone any video game, to start quipping that way? It just doesn’t fit Crystal’s personality. It’s comes off as just plain silly and nonsensical, just as I’ve felt Ewing’s writing of U.S.Avengers has been.
- Jonboy MeyersOh, Jonboy. When I first saw his art in the DC Rebirth version of Teen Titans, I was repulsed. I don’t think he is a bad artist, but I think his art is not appropriate for superhero comics. Meyer’s manga-like style is too sharp, his facial expressions are almost too dynamic and exaggerated, and the art doesn’t give me the feeling that the Inhumans, especially the royal family, are refined, elegant creatures. Meyer’s art was an eyesore in Teen Titans, and I feel it’s an eyesore here. In Meyer’s hands, the Inhumans seem more like action figures made only for action-packed books…and little else.
Aside from Ewing’s poor tackling of the more established characters (including Noh-Varr) and Meyer’s intense art, issue #2 suffers from the growing problem Marvel has had recently: the book falls out of sequence with other books that already alluded to the coming Chitauri swarm such as Captain America: Steve Rogers, Secret Empire, and Civil War II: The Oath. It feels like you’re backtracking, and that isn’t the best thing.
Al Ewing and Jonboy Meyers’ Royals run is proposed as a space odyssey set to elaborate on Inhumans history, both past and future. However, I can’t get on board with Ewing’s uncharacteristic portrayal of these characters, nor can I accept Meyer’s unfit artistic style. Together, they make the Inhumans an unnecessarily action-heavy team, rather than a refined group of…well, ROYALS.
While I am curious about what Noh-Varr meant as to the true nature of Terrigen, and what the future events depicted mean for the present lives of the Inhumans–not to mention the hopes that Crystal’s Kree husband Ronan will appear–I can’t say that I will stick with this book in its current state.
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.
D.C. here for another throwdown. I had hoped to finish this first, but I wanted to share my thoughts on this crew:
I haven’t watched Marvel’s show “Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” yet to see the difference (still on my Netflix queue), but meet the original Inhumans.
The Inhumans are just another sub-species of humans that came about centuries ago as a result of genetic tampering and lofty conquest goals by the alien Kree Empire. While they have mostly sequested and secluded themselves from the rest of humanity (and mutantdom…and Atlanteans), the Inhumans have a great deal of history with the Fantastic Four and Avengers (of which Crystal was a member). In this 1998 12-part graphic novel written by Paul Jenkins and drawn by Jae Lee, we get a concise and comprehensive look at just who and what the Inhumans are…both to themselves and to the rest of the world.
Props to the art
Simply put: I love this graphic novel. the dark tone of the art by Jae Lee is fantastic. I couldn’t believe that the art is 18 years old. It almost disgusts me that the art I’ve seen out of comics pale in comparison to that of Jae Lee.
Jae Lee’s penciling of the characters in Inhumans is well proportioned, even with a species of people with wildly different mutations. Facial expressions were very different for many of the characters I observed, and those expressions gave each character a distinct identity.
Most importantly, to me, Lee’s art fit perfectly with Jenkin’s writing for many of the characters. Gorgon’s gruff and pugnacious attitude was depicted well in his physical demeanor; even when he was humbled, the art conveyed Gorgon’s diminished appearance. Karak’s stoice face and poise go hand-in-hand with his deliberate speech. Maximus…oh, we’ll go into that a bit. 🙂
But you get the point. You FEEL the emotions on the faces and bodies of these characters.
I was captivated by the coloring provided by Dave and Dan Kemp and Avalon Studios (which I’m NOT familiar with). The colors showed great detail whenever Karnak of the royal family seemed to use his powers of detecting the flaw in all things. But that is just one such example.
The synthesis of pencils and colors, as dark as they are, shine brightly in the Inhumans. It is my belief that colors set the tone of the story, and “Inhumans” is a great example.
Props to the writing…
I thoroughly enjoyed “Inhumans” because Paul Jenkins explored not just the royal family of the Inhumans, but also several citizens of Attilan. Life is given to the Inhuman royal family, the next generation of Inhumans, and the humans who lead the attack on the Inhumans.
I was thoroughly pleased with Jenkins’ depiction of Maximus in particular. With Jae Lee’s art, we get the perfect picture of the mad Inhuman prince. And the term “mad” is seen on Maximus’ face and in his speech in so many ways. We see the generic “mad” when Maximus’ body is flailing about while he speaks nonsensically:
We also see how mad–ANGRY–Maximus is at his brother and the Inhumans in general, and how that drives his motives. Maximus’ sticking his tongue out is another beautiful touch to his madness. I couldn’t tell if he was angry, mentally ill, or simply sadistic at those moments. It was a thrill.
Another pleasing inclusion in Inhumans is that we get a tour of just how the Inhuman pet Lockjaw thinks and what he thinks about. What does a dog think about the conspiracies and events threatening to destroy the Inhumans? Does he care? Does he even understand? You get a delightful experience with Lockjaw, even among the chaos befalling the Inhumans.
The questions Jenkins captions throughout the story makes you really want to seek the answers. They are well written questions that deal with morality, decisions, indecision, and the consequences with which you find your answers to these questions.
From the beginning of the story, and especially towards the end, we are forced to question just who Black Bolt is, and just how do he choose to rule over the Inhumans. What does he do to safeguard his people from a “primitive” world that seeks only to reap their existence? When he seems defiant, content to observe his people’s annihilation, how are we supposed to see Black Bolt? He surprises even me at the end, especially with how he treats Maximus, his brother and antagonists. We see so many emotions in the silent king that speaks more than anyone’s in this saga.
Nonetheless, we see similar aspects throughout this saga, and with so many other characters. We see how conflicted the old and young are, and how determined and heroic and tired many of the characters can be.
You know what? In my opinion, there is very little I found bad in this story. If I have even one beef, it’s regarding Jenkins’ writing on Triton.
Specifically, his speech patterns.
Jenkins did a fine job having many of the character orate in a manner that is characteristic of them. Gorgon had his own way of speaking, as did Medusa, and (of course) Maximus. Even Black Bolt had a taciturn, yet characteristic, speech form.
Triton, however, seemed to have an inconsistent speech pattern throughout. Triton’s speech in issue #1 was addled and unfocused:
“If it pleasing your majesty… This poor being am poor foolish. I humble apologize.”
–Triton, when speaking to Medusa.
His was clearly distinct, almost like he lacked intelligence. However, in issue #9, in which Triton’s character is highlighted, his speech is starkly different:
“…And I bring the personal note from King Black Bolt, together with regards and respect from all people of our great city to our Atlantean cousins.”
–Triton, when speaking to Namor.
As soon as Triton spoke in issue #9, I couldn’t help but feel confused. What happened? Why is he so eloquent, so articulate? Why does he sound UNLIKE Triton?
From this issue to the end of the series, Triton spoke in the same regal manner, without justification for the change. The lack of consistency is too stark to have left alone without a reason.
It’s no lie that to continue with Triton’s original speech pattern could have been a challenge, but that does not justify an unexplained change. I was fine with Triton’s more complicated speech because it set him even further apart from his cousins in the royal family, just as much as his physical characteristics. To change Triton’s speech midway through to something so similar to the others diminished his individuality a bit.
“Inhumans” is a great and satisfying story that covers so many aspects.
And in this story, we see that the Inhumans really are just like us, though in my opinion, they are more pure and almost more innocent. We see that even Inhumans are prejudiced against one another, that they are, in their own way, racist against themselves and the Alpha Primitives that were their slaves. Even boisterous commanding soldiers like Gorgon can be humbled and shattered at the decisions (or lack thereof) they have to endure.
We see not just the prejudices the Inhumans place on one another, but the prejudices directed towards them by the human world. It is a trait we have seen in years, decades, and centuries past in human history. It is a cautionary tale of that we are doomed to repeat these prejudices whenever we meet “the other.”
Most strikingly, we get a true understanding of how heavy the crown Black Bolt wears. How, in spite of his regal aire, Black Bolt’s own decisions tear at him more than the insults and condemnations of his people. We see the true price of the crown.
If you’re looking for something new to read, pick up this oldie. For Marvel fans who have little knowledge of the Inhumans and want to read an in-depth storyline that highlights the various characters, give this book a read.
And besides…you people who like to read comics before a movie, “Inhumans” comes out in theaters in about 3 years. So you have no excuse to get a great look into one of Marvel’s most isolated people.