/ Lisa Granshaw / 4 am Tue, Mar 3 2015
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  • Meet The Inhumans

    Meet The Inhumans

    They might not be as famous as the X-Men or The Avengers, but with an upcoming film, teases on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and an increasing comic book presence, The Inhumans are about to cause a pop culture explosion, 50 years after they first appeared.

    The Inhumans were created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, and were first introduced in 1965 in Fantastic Four #45.

    “This was just at a time when I think Stan and Jack really began to move into what would be considered the very best period of Fantastic Four stories,” Roy Thomas, former editor-in-chief of Marvel and co-author of 75 Years of Marvel Comics: From the Golden Age to the Silver Screen, says. “Starting with The Inhumans and then climaxing some months later with things like The Galactus Trilogy with the introduction of the Silver Surfer, and then right after that the introduction of the Black Panther and the villain Klaw, and a couple of other key stories over a period of a year or two. The Inhumans were sort of a bookend in a way on one side to the best period, probably, in terms of creativity and inventiveness that the Fantastic Four ever knew.”

    The special abilities The Inhumans displayed were a result of genetic experiments done on early humans by an alien, space-traveling race called the Kree. Through exposure to a mutagenic vapor called Terrigen Mist, The Inhumans can develop a variety of powers. They lived separately from humans and created their own civilization.

    Ruling The Inhumans are a royal family consisting of intriguing characters like their king Black Bolt and their queen Medusa as well as Crystal, Gorgon, and Lockjaw. This family is often the focus of stories featuring The Inhumans, who over the years have interacted with various Marvel characters.

    Charles Soule, writer of the current Inhuman series, believes the family is one interesting aspect that separates The Inhumans from other characters. While there are other Marvel royals like Sub-Mariner and Black Panther, they are often an individual in control while The Inhumans are a family unit. Soule also highlights their unique dynastic history as something that sets them apart.

    “They’ve been on Earth for 20,000 years and there’s a lot of that history that we haven’t ever seen. When they originally appeared in the Fantastic Four back in the early days they were already established in this very powerful hidden city of Attilan and ruled by a king and a queen and a long standing race with all this obscure tradition and history and all these amazing things that they’ve done that preexisted all the superheroes that we’d already been seeing in the Marvel Universe…” Soule says. “The Inhumans have been having huge cosmic scale adventures for longer than human history’s been around, so it’s very fascinating.”

    Soule was a fan of The Inhumans before being tapped to write this series. He said he’s been reading stories about The Inhumans for almost as long as he’s been reading comic books. Some of the stories he read have left an impact on him as he’s written his own take on the characters, including the Eisner Award winning Inhumans by writer Paul Jenkins and artist Jae Lee which Soule calls a “very significant seminal story.” It ran for 12 issues and offered a darker, modern take on the characters. To Soule, the series “really brought home that these guys could support an amazing story on their own.”

    It also helped open the door to telling different kinds of stories with The Inhumans. In another 12 issue series, writer Sean McKeever explored what would happen if a younger generation attended college with humans. McKeever hopes that his time with The Inhumans showed they “can be used in a wide variety of contexts.”

    “I love the royal intrigue stuff, and I like when they're doing the space opera thing, too, but, as I'm sure more modern approaches are showing, they can be so much more,” he says.

    Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity series has certainly shown this by changing the world of The Inhumans forever. In Infinity, a Terrigen Bomb explodes and spreads Terrigen Mist across Earth. This awakens powers within people everywhere who are descendants of Inhumans. The event has had lasting effects on the entire Marvel Universe and resulted in the creation of heroes like the popular new Ms. Marvel.

    Soule said one of the fun things about his series has been the ability to introduce new Inhumans from all walks of life and all ages as a result of this event.

    “It’s been a way to create new characters that reflect the diversity both of the Marvel Universe and the world as a whole,” he said.

    It may seem like there’s a lot to catch up on before you can understand this unique group but Soule’s Inhuman can be a jumping on point for new readers. He said issue one was designed to reintroduce The Inhumans, explain what’s recently changed about them and how those events will influence the whole Marvel Universe.

    Charle Soule's Inhuman is available from Amazon.

    The Inhumans will also feature in the brand-new Uncanny Inhumans series launching in April. The book will be written by Soule and reunite him with artist Steve McNiven, who he worked with on Death of Wolverine. This series can also be a starting point and according to Soule will differ from the Game of Thrones-like intrigue found in Inhuman.

    Uncanny Inhumans is going to be a little bit more of a straightforward superhero throw down. We’re going to really see what these guys get to do when they’re pushed up against the wall and it will be very cool,” he said.

    While The Inhumans’ presence grows in the world of comics, they are about to take a huge leap and soon enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fans may have to wait until 2019 to see them on the big screen, but hints on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. might mean their appearance on TV sometime this year. Introducing The Inhumans might not be without its challenges, however.

    “One of the risks you run with a team like The Inhumans is that they don't have an automatic link to the ‘everyman’ type average person that many of the other Marvel characters do,” says comic book writer and historian Matthew Manning. “But Marvel was able to ground Thor in a world resembling our own, and if they can find a bit of common ground like that, then The Inhumans' interesting backstory and variety of characters should take care of the rest.”

    Soule thinks The Inhumans won’t have any trouble making the transition from page to screen.

    “Who had ever heard of Guardians of the Galaxy before last summer? Nobody. Marvel Studios is just phenomenal at introducing new characters and new concepts to viewers and to audiences so I’m not worried at all about them making an amazing movie,” he said.

    André Lima Araújo, artist for The Inhumans issues 13 and 14 who also worked with the characters as the artist for Avengers A.I., thinks viewers will be able to connect with The Inhumans.

    “Good characters are good characters and they don't depend on the familiarity of the viewer or reader.”

    / / 9 COMMENTS

    Notable Replies

    1. Very nice article. But remember the real reason you're going to see so much of the Inhumans in the near future.

      Marvel/Disney still hold full control over that particular franchise, and don't have to wait for a hacking scandal just to get back a small piece of a character [Spider-Man]

      There's also this idea that any societal/cultural story you could tell with the X-Men could be an Inhumans story with a bit of tweaking.

      Keep in mind, this is a company that's celebrating their 75th anniversary, and good luck finding anything Fantastic Four related. Rather than give any semblance of pub for the upcoming film, the order was given from the top down for zero promotional artwork and to cancel the series.

    2. I read the first few issues of Soule's Inhuman run and they were kind of dull. Bargain basement X-Men.

    3. phuzz says:

      It'll be interesting to see how far Marvel can push it in the film/tv universe. Fox own the rights to the X-Men, but could Marvel get away with a character with similar powers to one of the X-Men? I'm guessing referring to someone as a mutant is out, but I doubt Fox can insist that the word 'mutation' is completely off limits etc.

      but hints on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. might mean their appearance on TV sometime this year

      Later this year == tomorrow (or is it on tonight in the states?)

    4. Soule is one of the better comics writers out there right now; he's really shone on smaller titles such as Thunderbolts and DC's Red Lantern as well as that company's Swamp Thing (a tough title to do, as everyone who's written it since Alan Moore's run has struggled to come from out under his long shadow). He's also got a good run going on She-Hulk, having the advantage of being a working lawyer and understanding how a law firm actually works, as opposed to getting it second-hand from TV legal dramas.

      As for the push-back in comments above, well, I kind of expected even before I toggled over to the BBS that we'd hear from X-Men fans, as there has long been suspicion (even before the official movie announcements from Marvel Studios) that the Inhumans were being groomed as replacements for mutants in general within the franchise, and unsurprisingly, given the long-running popularity of the X-Men sub-franchise, lots of X-fans aren't really happy about that. There are a couple of things to keep in mind, though:

      1. Since the Inhumans haven't been used nearly as much as the X-Men, there's a lot more freedom in terms of what can be done with them. Where will Attilan be--in the Himalayas, the moon, New York Harbor (all locations at one point or another in the comics), all three, or somewhere else? Is Maximus the Mad going to be the big bad, or will they work on promoting someone else since Loki has the black-haired cool evil guy franchise sewed up in the MCU? How much of the CGI budget will be spent on making Medusa's hair just as crazy-cool as Kirby drew it?
      2. Related to the above, there's something that X-fans don't want to acknowledge: the X-franchise is kind of played out. Yeah, I know--you love each and every story that was ever published (well, maybe not the Chuck Austen years, of which we need not speak), and would love to see them all filmed, but in terms of really big stories that are suitable as summer tentpole movies, we've already had the origin story, the Dark Phoenix saga, Kavita Rao's mutant "cure", Days of Future Past and (upcoming) Apocalypse. First Class made good use of the Cuban Missile Crisis for a not-tied-directly-into-the-comics epic story, but the Wolverine spin-offs were kind of meh IMO, and what's left for a really big story? M-day?
    5. So much misfit action! I still fantasize about DC getting Grant Morrison to write a Doom Patrol movie.

    Continue the discussion bbs.boingboing.net

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