The Inhumans/X-Men War comes hurdling toward its conclusion in this fifth and penultimate chapter to the event, from the creative team of Charles Soule, Jeff Lemire, Javier Garrón and David Curiel.
The Terrigen Cloud is dissipating, certain to kill thousands and make the world completely uninhabitable to the Mutant race. Desperate to prevent this terrible fate, The X-Men have leveled a preemptive strike against The Inhumans of New Attilan, hoping to buy the time needed to destroy the cloud. Unaware of the critical matter of the dissipation of the T-Cloud, the Inhumans have fought back, freeing themselves from their imprisonment and turning the tides against The X-Men.
Meanwhile, the newer Inhumans, those The X-Men neglected to factor in to their stratagem, have succeeded in evading capture and have abducted Forge (the one X-Man most crucial to destroying the cloud). These Inhumans have recently discovered the truth about the Terrigen Cloud and the reasons behind the X-Men’s attack… and what these young heroes choose to do next will have lasting ramifications for both races.
The issue begins with Karnak’s continued efforts to escape from ‘The World’ (an artificial realm that had once been the home of the Weapons Plus Program). Jean Grey had successfully kept Karnak trapped in a psychic illusion but he’s finally found the flaw in her illusions and willed himself to consciousness. Once awakened, Karnak makes short work of both Jean and Fantomex and locates Lockjaw who has also been imprisoned in The World. Unfortunately, Lockjaw is still heavily sedated and Karnak is unable to wake him and utilize his teleportation powers to facilitate an escape.
Meanwhile, in Limbo, Colossus is the sole X-Man able to respond to The Royal Inhumans escape. Gorgon chooses to battle Colossus on his own, allowing he others to seek out Black Bolt.
Gorgon and Colossus engage in a drawn out slugfest in which Colossus ultimately emerges the victor. Still, Gorgon has managed to buy Medusa the time needed to discover Black Bolt locked up in Forge’s laboratory. There he is guarded by Havok, who threatens to use his solar-beam powers to kill Black Bolt if Medusa or any of the others attempt to free him.
Medusa and Havok bicker with one another. Medusa calls his bluff and Havok folds. He’s a broken man, uncertain what he believes in. Havok mourns his brother but refuses to kill in his name. He backs down and allows Medusa and the others to free Black Bolt. It’s a rather odd scene.
Back in New Jersey, Iso and the NuHumans have revived Forge. They’ve decided to help him to destroy the Terrigen Cloud before it is too late. They feel loyalty to Medusa and the Inhumans of Attilan, but not to the extent that their willing to participate in a genocide.
Forge is not sure he has enough time to recreate a new Terrigen nullifying contraption. Fortunately, Moon Girl is there and is able to help out, pointing out a way in which the machine can be consolidated into a smaller, portable unit.
Now all they need is the space and resources to build such a machine. Iso suggests Ennilux, the industrial conglomerate currently run by Medusa’s son, Ahura. Inferno is uncertain Ahura will be wiling to assist, but Iso is confident that she can convince him. Iso, Moon Girl and Forge head off to Ennilux’s headquarters in Italy while the rest take their stolen Blackbird jet to track The Terrigen Cloud.
Reader gets the unenviable role of playing taxi-cab, teleporting everyone everywhere. He takes Iso, Lunella and Forge to Italy, then collects Karnak and Lockjaw from the World, and finally shoots off to Limbo to gather up Medusa and the others, bringing them all to a beach in the Philippines. Why the Philippines? I don’t know… perhaps it’s nice this time of year. Anyways, once there Black Bolt is relieved of his gag, yet it seems that whatever The X-Men did to neutralize his powers seems to have some lasting effects.
All of them continue to be confused as to why The X-Men had so attacked them… Reader is there but he has yet to inform Medusa and the others the critical information regarding the dispersement of The Terrigen Cloud (maybe he’s too tired from all that teleporting). In any case, Karnak has a suspicion that things may be much more than they seem.
Ms. Marvel, Cyclops, and the NuHumans touch down off the coast of Iceland where the Terrigen Cloud is shortly to make landfall. They hope that Forge is able to arrive in time to destroy it. Somehow the X-Men have found them (likely they tracked the Blackbird) and they show up in attack formation. The NuHumans are too surprised to shout out ‘wait, we’re on your side now!’ and a battle ensues.
Cyclops is now fighting not he side of The NuHumans and is especially eager to take on Emma Frost (having only recently learned the truth about his older self’s death and the role Emma played in the whole ordeal). Emma psychic blasts Cyclops and Ms. Marvel comes to her fellow Champions teammate’s aide. Mosaic body-jumps into Storm. There’s all sorts of mayhem.
Magneto can see the Terrigen Cloud gradually encroaching int he yonder. He has no more time for all this and decides to end the battle by magnetically lifting up the Blackbird and sending it crashing down onto both X-Man and Inhuman alike… And it’s here that the issue ends with the promise of conclusion in the sixth and final installment.
Okay, so a lot of cool things happened in the issue, as well as a lot of stuff that was… how should I say, not so good…
On the plus side of things, the Nuhumans definitely show up as the true good guys of the event. All this may as well be a dress rehearsal for Secret Warriors because they’re the only ones who show a lick of sense in the whole ordeal. Both The X-Men and The Royal Inhumans are acting quite foolishly and it’s becoming increasingly clear that this whole war may have been avoided had the two parties merely been open in their communications with one another.
Havok’s cameo appearance was very confusing. It wasn’t at all clear what he was doing here nor why he so quickly backed down. I’ll admit that I haven’t kept up with what’s been going on for Havok of late, why his face is all scared up like that, so maybe there is some key detail I’m missing.
His exchange with Medusa kind of felt like an online chat forum disagreement between fans. Which is fine because it offers up a convenient screen-cap for me to use the next two dozen times an X-Men fan comes at me with some weird ask regarding Cyclops being likened to Hitler…
Back on the plus side, Gorgon’s battle with Colossus was pretty good. Although I was bummed to see Gorgon lose, his comment about actually being a big fan of metal at the end was a nice touch.
On the negative side, Black Bolt once more gets nothing to do. I’ve very few complaints regarding Charles Soule’s stewardship of The Inhumans. He’s done great work with the books and I’m really going to miss his being on The Inhumans. The one thing I will not miss, however, is Soule’s reluctance, disinterested and/or discomfort with writing Black Bolt. BB has been continuously sidelined for one reason or another, not just in this series but throughout Soule’s work on Inhumans. Writing extremely powerful characters must be difficult, but surely there is a better option than just continually nerfing the guy.
Garrón’s art kicks it up a notch in the issue. I’m still getting used to his interesting use of facial expression, but the action sequences are quite fluid, dynamic and well done. Curiel does especially impressive work keeping up with huge shifts in color pallet as the scenes move from The World, Limbo, New Jersey and Iceland.
Perhaps it’s ‘event fatigue,’ but I’m seeing the preview art for The Royals, Secret Warriors, and Black Bolt, covers to upcoming issues of Moon Girl, Ms. Marvel, Mosaic, and now Monster Unleashed, and it’s all leaving me feeling pretty much ready to have IvX be done with. Let’s get this X-Men business done with and move on. Or maybe it’s just Karnak’s words ringing especially true to me ears. His noting that ‘this conflict with the Mutants was inherently flawed from the beginning’ is all but meta-contextual. I almost wish he had been looking at the camera like one of the character from The Office.
This two week’s time brings us the grand finale. I’ve got a pretty decent idea of what is going to go down, but am looking forward to it nonetheless. Bring on the final battle!
Two and a half out of Five Lockjaws.