Unless you’ve been living under a rock for, oh, about 50 years, you already have an idea of who the Inhumans are. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s 1965 creation of a team of early humans experimented on my the alien Kree race instantly became an intriguing aspect of the Marvel Universe. The Inhumans were positioned to bridge the gap between Marvel’s Earth and Marvel’s Space brands, and this premise was used to great success for decades. While the Inhumans had amazingly cool powers, one thing separated them from the mutants or the Avengers. Not all of the Inhumans had super-powers, and in order for an Inhuman to activate his nascent power he had to be exposed to Terrigenesis, a process of transformation using the mystical Terrigen Crystals, which formed Terrigen Mist. It was all very convoluted, but made the Inhumans, and the super-powered Inhuman Royal Family, a comparably small faction of the overall population. This made the Inhumans special.
That special nature, however, ended quite abruptly during the Marvel event Infinity, when Black Bolt, the Inhuman king, detonated a bomb made to spread these Terrigen Mists over the entire planet, awakening abilities inside ANY person with even a portion of Inhuman DNA, and those horny Inhumans got plenty busy with those ignorant Earthers. The results of Black Bolts bomb is the addition of thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of newly super-powered beings hanging out on Earth, quite the departure from a single Royal Family of Inhumans. While this may seem like a ton of overkill with the X-Men, other mutants, and every other powered being on Earth (and there’s certainly no lack of them), this breath of fresh air may be exactly what the Marvel U has been missing.
This week, writer Charles Soule and artist Joe Madureira will be continuing the story of the Inhumans where Infinity left off, with the series Inhuman. The title promises to take readers along on an exciting adventure of discovery and secrecy as we are introduced to newly created Inhumans. This whole experience isn’t just new to us readers, however, as many of these newly created Inhumans also have no idea what has happened to them. While Inhuman promises a brand new direction due to the overall newness of the title’s premise, this is by no means something that hasn’t been seen before.
We Don’t Really Need More Inhumans
Really, when you boil it all down, an Inhuman is nothing more than a mutant with a complex power. Most of the Inhumans have severe drawbacks that come along with their power-sets. Black Bolt, for instance, has a voice that can create waves of destructive sonic force, but this doesn’t allow the king to say anything. Even a whisper could bring down a mountain. The Inhuman Gorgon can create tectonic shockwaves, but his legs have been transformed into those of a bull. Now, there is certainly no preclusion of putting some negative connotation on a mutant power, or any other power for that matter. The infamous mutant Blob may be super strong, but that comes along with hundreds of pounds of fat. Glob Herman, Blindfold, Nightcrawler, and scores of other mutants fit this ideal. Look at The Sentry, the Superman knockoff with so much power, and an equal amount of psychosis, that he created his own arch-nemesis. Red Skull, The Thing, even The Green Goblin, all saw drawbacks to their power. So, why then do we even need yet another segment of the Marvel population to apply powers to? We already have plenty of examples and even more opportunity to delve into new characters that may have major drawbacks to their super-power. There’s, ultimately, no need for Marvel to so drastically change the Inhumans. Except, that it’s going to be awesome!
We Really Want to See More Inhumans
While there is really no need to create a new race of beings with good parts and bad parts of their powers because we already have one established in the Marvel U, there is certainly no rule of this sort that applies to the Marvel mutants. Just because a new mutant is discovered does not necessarily mean that there will be a downside to his power. This is not so with the Inhumans, and each and every new Inhuman character that is introduced should have a negative aspect to his character. This is an extraordinary way for writers to tell a story that should feel completely different than a traditional mutant tale. Sure, there’s always that chance that something unexpected will occur, but Inhuman guarantees this element of surprise with every new Inhuman discovered, and these discoveries are something that could never be done with mutants. Here’s an example from a recent interview with writer Charles Soules describing one of these new Inhumans.
Soule: So Reader is another Inhuman whose ability is, anything he reads, he can make real. So if he reads the word fire, then everything catches fire around him. He grew up in a society kind of like Orollan, sort of a more restricted Inhuman society. They realize that if they let this guy keep being able to read, bad things are going to keep happening. So they put out his eyes — they blinded him. So he’s sort of one of those blind warrior-types, but the way that he fights is he has a sheath of tin strips at his waste — they’re not very long, like a couple inches long — and each one has a word written on it in brail. So he basically reads the word in brail as he needs to, and then that kind of happens.
This sounds like one amazing character, one that is uniquely Inhuman in his origin and power, and something that simply could not be done with the traditional “find a new mutant, visit a new mutant” recipe that has been such a powerful aspect of the X-Men series of books. And this is only a single character! Soule has promised that he has a bunch of new characters in store for this title, and, unlike so many Marvel mutants, Soule has stated that these new characters are in no way safe. It’s been a long time since I found a new character that I really liked, and then had the writer kill him off without me being assured that I’ll see that character resurrected fairly soon. There are no such guarantees associated with Inhuman.
I was in no way sold on this event when I first heard it solicited a few months ago. I was determined to be upset at the changes to such a storied group like the Inhumans, and worried that these changes were nothing more than turning a truly unique group of characters into nothing more than the X-Men 2. While those fears are still very much on my mind, the elements being introduced within the pages of Inhuman are compelling and may be enough to eclipse any issues that may arise due to unfair comparisons. Although I’m still not totally sold on the title as a whole, I’m certainly on board for drastic changes to the overall Marvel landscape. What is yet to be ascertained, however, is if those drastic changes turn out to be changes at all, and not simply a publisher running out of ideas to steal from the competition, and instead stealing its own ideas and applying them to other properties. Charles Soule’s Inhuman drops tomorrow, April 2nd, so, I guess, we’ll find out really soon. Look for a review by the end of the week.