The Inhumans have become a major playing force within the Marvel Universe. And with “Uncanny Inhumans” #0, that influence only grows more powerful. Check out how this new Inhumans title fares in our spoiler-free review below.
Written by Charles Soule
Illustrated by Steve McNiven
Back-up by Ryan Stegman and Ryan Lee
• The industry’s best-selling artist comes to the Inhumans!
• The prelude to one of Marvel’s biggest launches of 2015 is here!
• Think you know Black Bolt? Think again, as the men who killed Wolverine show you a side of the Inhuman King you’ve never seen before!
In all fairness I should make some disclaimers: I’ve never really read an “Inhumans” title before. I read “Ms. Marvel” because I’m a filthy millennial and “Inhumanity” seemed like a cool idea back in the distant year of 2013. But frankly, there’s been a lot about the recent Inhumans push that bothers me. It felt like it was arbitrarily decided by the corporation itself rather than an evolution of fan response. You can see the indiezation of several Marvel comics (“Secret Avengers”, “Unbeatable Squirrel Girl”) as evolving from the tones of books like “Daredevil” and “Hawkeye.” With the Inhumans, we were suddenly just okay with Karnak being a major player in an event storyline. What’s more, the Inhuman have always come in small doses or as part of something grander. They’re like cheese in that way – in how they’re great on sandwiches or in small portions but if I eat a whole block of cheese I might die. There’s a royal mystique to the Inhumans that gets thrown out the window when they’re treated as your average super team. And while I’ms till not sold on the Inhumans being Marvel’s next big thing, “Uncanny Inhumans” #0 definitely shows that the creators have a solid handle on what makes these characters work. Or at least one character.
For one, Steve McNiven never lets us forget that we are dealing with royalty. Black Bolt towers over humans with the poise and ease of someone who can obliterate cities with a shout. And since Black Bolt can’t really speak a lot of this issue is carried by his physicality. Plus, there’s a cinematic realness in McNiven’s art that is only enhanced by Justin Ponsor’s colors. Waves of light will actually cast shadows onto the faces of nearby characters in ways that make the art really pop. And with McNiven’s wide shots, he and Ponsor have found a cool nice somewhere around “cinematic.” Not necessarily in how the comic is striving to look like the storyboard for a movie, but in how seamlessly the action flows from panel to panel. The art team isn’t afraid to play around either. Black Bolt’s use of his voice is one of the more visually pleasing moments in this issue, with close-ups on Bolt’s mouth giving way to wide-spread shots of his destruction. It’s a really clever, and ultimately devastating way, of demonstrating his power. There’s some hiccups, like Medusa’s constant sex face, but overall McNiven manages to capture the blockbuster feel of the comic. It feels important, which is of course something incredibly important for a #0 issue.
That said, I don’t know how well “Uncanny Inhumans” demonstrates its own cast, if the solicitations for the upcoming issue #1 are to be believed. The only character really featured here is Blackagar Boltagon whose name no one decided to retcon. “Uncanny Inhumans” #0 is more or less “Black Bolt” #1 with the deposed king of the Inhumans wrapping up business in the face of the events of “New Avengers.” What these loose ends are, and what Bolt does in order to meet them, show depth to the character without spoiling everything that makes him work. There’s no endless monologues or melodrama, save for a needed expository one that occurs in telepath form. Black Bolt lives by his actions and this issue does a great job of painting that idea. Above all else, Black Bolt is a king, a ruler who has to make decisions. Even if he is on the run with little to no political power. Blackagar (heh) and the Inhumans lives in an entirely different world than their Marvel colleagues. There’s a sci-fi elegance to the Inhumans necessary to make them intriguing. And what do you get without that?Continued below
Well, you get the back-up story by Ryan Stegman and Ryan Lee. In any other comic, I would enjoy it: a quick little romp that doesn’t take itself too seriously and gets a lot of plot accomplished in five pages. Yet, the back-up (featuring on the Nu-Humans who have popped up since “Inhumanity”) feels like a cop-out. Without getting too elitist over a fictional group of peoples, don’t the Inhumans need to be sort of grown within their own culture? They have cool superpowers, yeah, but it’s their culture and how they act as a result of their upbringing that makes them unique. Take that away, and all you have are a bunch of mutants insisting that they aren’t.
Final Verdict: 7.4 – Overall, “Uncanny Inhumans” #0 is a grey primer on what makes Black Bolt an interesting character to follow. That said, it doesn’t necessarily give the same favor to some of the other characters, which might be emblematic of the Inhumans push as a whole. Basically, I want the post-“Inhumanity” Inhumans to be Alien Shakespeare or Alien Game of Thrones but it feels like we’re going to be closer to, well, another superhero comic. That’s not a bad thing, but in an era where Marvel’s comics are being defined by singular they are, the Inhumans line feels like just another blip on the radar. “Uncanny Inhumans” #0 shows potential that could be fixed, but only for one character so far.