The secrets of the Sky Spears are finally revealed as The Royals fight for their lives caught in the deadly Snarkwar. Superstar artist, Javier Rodriguez, joins the creative team alongside fellow illustrator, Kevin Libranda, colorist, Jose Villarrubia and writer Al Ewing. Cosmic mayhem and a supervising romance ensues.
The alien Snarks are embroiled in a civil war and the would-be king, Prince Hyinar, has come to NovaHala with their ‘Quantum Foam’ device aiming to utilize its technology to steal as many Inhuman powers as needed to return home and win the war. Most of The Royals and their Universal Inhuman colleagues have been captured, their powers stolen and supplanted into Snark soldiers. To keep these powers, however, the original hosts must be kept alive so that the Snarks can periodically return to recharge.
Outside of the city, Medusa, Maximus, Noh-Varr and the Queens of The Universal Inhumans have come to inspect the Sky Spear that has mysteriously come to the Centurion World. Maximus had formed a hypothesis about what these Sky Spears might be and how they may work; a hypothesis that he tested by taking control of Quenn Oola’s telekinetic powers and using them to pick up Noh-Varr and throw him into the structure of the spear.
The Kree and Inhumans are distantly related, both products of manipulated evolution by way of Primagen. This particular spear is not attuned to Noh-Varr physiology, but the similarities are close enough to facilitate an interface wherein the spear ‘reads’ what Noh-Varr is and conversely Noh was able to experience the process and ‘see’ it for himself.
Noh’s vision is a kaleidoscope of Jack Kirby-style cosmic wildness. The mammoth Progenitor creating and refining the Sky Spears, hurdling them through space to precise destinations.
The experience is terribly painful for Noh-Varr, yet he survives. He falls from the spear and Maximus catches him, bringing him back to report. Noh casts off his bitter anger toward Maximus in order to share with Medusa all that he has learned.
The Spear is a diagnostic tool, a means of assessing and evaluating the knowledge and powers of Inhuman subjects. Its ability to control minds is a byproduct of its function for collecting cognitive data; likewise its augmentation of Inhuman powers is also a product of it testing the upper limits of said powers. The spear is an antenna, collecting this data and sending it back from which it came. Furthermore, there is no means of autonomous propulsion to these devises… they are literal spears that have been thrown with tremendous strength so to traverse the galaxies and strike planets with pinpoint accuracy.
Before Medusa and the others can take stock of what Noh-Varr has learned they are suddenly attacked by Hyinar and his empowered Snark warriors.
Maximus is momentarily able to fend off the attack, utilizing the various powers of the Universal Inhuman Queens. Yet one of the empowered-Snarks has ‘borrowed’ the abilities of Swain and her empathic abilities once more acts to cancel out Maximus’ mind-control.
Meanwhile, within the Snark command ship, Gorgon has been robbed of his Inhuman gifts and rendered into a human-like form. Held in chains, he reflects back to the early days of his recovery from a devastating wound that had left him paralyzed. He recalls his old friend, Karnak, and the philosopher’s cold effort to offer him comfort. Karnak is unlike the rest of The Royal Family. He has never gone through Terrigenesis and his abilities are a result of ardent study, practice, and training.
Confined to a wheelchair, Gorgon took no solace from Karnak’s words; he didn’t have his life to live over and cannot dedicatee himself to training and refining new skills. What Karnak had attempt to relay to Gorgon did not resonate at the time, but now, in recollection, begins to make sense. Karnak’s outlook is one of absolute nihilism: everything is nothing, it is all meaningless… and yet determination can allow one to exploit the great flaw of meaninglessness that exists in all things.
The recollection seems to inspire Gorgon, cause him to realize that he is much more than simply a vessel for his powers. Karnak can shatter stone solely by way of his determination, surely Gorgon can do the same to a mere metal chain. Besides, the Inhumans of Attilan possess enhanced strength to begin with… and Gorgon has been doing a lot of working out.
Summoning all of his strength, Gorgon pulls on the chain, stretching it taught so that it is only as strong as its weakest link. He exploits this weakness, the link cracks and the chain snaps. In the same motion, Gorgon snatches the Snark scientist who had been standing nearby, constricting his hand about the alien’s throat and forcing him to free the others.
Moments later, the cloaking device aboard the Snark craft is disengaged and it lands nearby the Sky Spear. Gorgon and his colleagues come pouring out to attack. They no longer posses their powers, but are unwilling to go down without a fight.
Flint peels off admit the battle, internet on a rash and desperate plan. He makes it to the Sky Spear and lays his hands on it. Once more this particular spear has not been calibrated to terrestrial Inhumans, but the physiognomic similarities are close enough that it effects Flint.
The power-amplifying properties of the Sky Spear overwhelms the Snark technology that has robed Flint of his powers. He regains his abilities and uses them to lift up a giant chunk of rock, reforming it into spiked slab. Perhaps the Sky Spear’s influence has rendered Flint more cold-blooded or perhaps the direness of the situation has left him more violent than normal. Whatever the case, Flint slams down the spiked slab, killing Prince Hyinar and his Snark soldiers.
The battle is over. With the Snarks dead, the Inhumans slowly regain their powers. Crystal expresses concern over Flint, how the exposure to the Sky Spear might have effected him. She would like to have him checked out in a medical facility on NovaHala, but that isn’t an option. Displeased with how Maximus had taken over their minds, The Universal Queens have demanded The Royals leave NovaHala immediately.
Yet it was not all for naught. Noh-Varr’s interface with The Sky Spear has enabled him to reserve navigate the trajectory of the spear. He can guide them from where it had come and bring the Royals to location of the mysterious Progenitors.
Before they leave, Medusa takes Gorgon aside. Quite bluntly, she asks how long he has had romantic feelings for her. Apparently she has noticed the way he looks at her, the love and desire in his eyes. Embarrassed, slightly ashamed, Gorgon reluctantly answers her question. He has loved her for years, yet buried the feeling because she was his queen and his friend’s wife. He apologizes for it and promises to continue to keep these feelings suppressed. Yet Medusa sees no need for him to do so. She is dying, her end is inevitable and rapidly approaching; and they are on a mission that more likely than not will result in all of their demise. There is no longer time nor need for the foolishness of pushing away feelings and desires. She takes Gorgon in her arms and the two share a passionate kiss… much to the surprise of Crystal and the others.
And it is with this unexpected turn of events that the issue comes to an end with he promise of continuation in the next installment.
I had found the previous issue to be a bit on the short end in terms of action and unveiling the mysterious of the plot. This issue, meanwhile, more than makes up for it with a great deal of action and a super interesting revelation about what exactly the Sky Spears are.
The Spears are essentially probes… alien instruments of examination designed to accrue data and transmit it back to the Progenitors. They assess information on Inhuman subjects, any beings shaped and mutated by way of derivatives of Primagen.
We have been led to believe that The Inhuman were the product of experiments conducted by The Kree, yet now it is revealed that The Kree themselves may have been merely a tool through which The Progenitors shaped dynamic life throughout the universe. But to what end?
Are the Progenitors creating weapons? Are they harvesting crops to consume? Are they merely imitating the work of gods, making and shaping new life through the cosmos? Are they benevolent, malevolent, or something beyond the confines of narrow constructs of morality? More importantly, will The Royal be able to obtain from them what they so desperately need?
This whole mission has been to discover a new source of Terrigen, a means through which to regain a future for The Inhumans of earth. And what will it mean if they are to succeed? Will confronting these Progenitors end up dooming the team… dooming all of earth? The mystery of the Sky Spears has been uncovered; we now know what they are. And the answering of one question has led to a bevy of new ones. New mysterious, the prospect of saving the Inhuman race, as well as the threat of total destruction.
Pretty cool stuff… I’m just a sucker for all this high concept sci-fi weirdness.
Although I must admit that, as villains, The Snarks don’t do a whole lot for me. With their power-thieving technology, they are kind of ersatz Super Skrulls and I’ve no investment nor care for whatever civil war their planet is embroiled in. Although it is possible my animus toward them is mostly seated in the fact that their attack on NovaHalla resulted in the deaths of two members of the Light Brigade (my fav, Kal Blackborn, as well as the Centurion Inhuman, Metallic Titan).
Nevertheless, the threat posed by The Snarks provided some cool action sequences as well as interesting character developments for both Gorgon and Flint.
Gorgon has been through a lot over the last few years. The injury he sustained and subsequent paralysis forced him to carve out a new sense of purpose. He could no longer be a warrior, so instead he focused on teaching, taking the younger, newer Inhumans, Flint, Naja, and Grid under his wing and helping them to gain greater mastery over their abilities. It also forced him to come to terms with his failures as a father and the ineffectiveness of his efforts to push away his bereavement over his wife’s death. Through it all, Gorgon has gradually come to learn that his true strength is not in his hooves, in the seismic blasts that he can generate… rather his real power is rooted in his sense of will, his determination in the face of adversity. And it was only by acknowledging and tapping into that power that he was able to escape and, ultimately, save the day.
In terms of Flint, his path remains unclear. This is the first time he has used his powers to kill. Once before, Flint’s actions caused an opponent serious harm and the ordeal had left Flint greatly shaken (it happened way back in All New Inhumans #6). His killing Hyinar and The Snarks was in the heat of war, justified, possibly imperative. Yet it may be that having done so will leave a powerful impact on him. He is already feeling quite lost and unsure of his place. The sense of guilt over his actions, regardless of how necessary they may have been, could be enough to push him over the edge.
As for Medusa and Gorgon hooking up… where the heck did that come from?
Gorgon’s admiration for his former queen has been evident from the start, but I hadn’t imagined it as being amorous and in no way did I expect Medusa to reciprocate such feelings. I was just as shocked as Crystal and the others at seeing these two lock lips.
Medusa has been quite stoic in dealing with her illness and loss of power. Taking a page from her ex-husband, Black Bolt, Medusa has pushed down her own feelings and focused exclusively on the mission at hand and the needs of those whom she leads. And with this stoicism, Medusa has remained something of a cypher throughout the series. She’s driven, but her thoughts and feelings, how she is coping with her illness and her sense of having failed Attilan in destroying the Terrigen Cloud, has all remained under the surface. As such, the whole idea that would kiss Gorgon really feels to have come out of left field.
And I don’t like it!
Medusa and Black Bolt are my one-true-pair. The prospect of them getting back together has been something of a beacon… a goal or achievement that would signify a sense of symbolic victory for The Inhumans. To be clear, I don’t at all see Medusa’s actions as cheating. She and Black Bolt are not together and I don’t consider her hooking up with Johnny Storm nor Gorgon as an infidelity. Yet that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it. Furthermore, I hope that Medusa’s rational, her feelings about it, are made more clear in subsequent issues. She has been brave in the face of her impending doom, but with this development, we really need to know what is going on in her head. Has she always fancied Gorgon? Does she just not want to be alone in her last days? Has she made peace with the fact that she will likely never see Black Bolt again and is seeking comfort in the arms of another? Enquiring minds need to know…
It was very cool to get a sneak peak at what Javier Rodriguez has in store for the visual side of the tale moving forward. Along with depicting Gorgon’s flashback scene, Rodriguez also offered up Noh-Varr’s vision of the Progenitors which was just a wonderful visage of crackling cosmic awesomeness. Not to be outdone, co-illustrator, Kevin Libranda also brings his A-game with vibrant action sequences and really terrific facial expressions of emotion. Seeing Maximus truly surprised is a rare thing indeed and Libranda nails it perfectly.
Much of the action takes place int he barren lands outside of the city of NovaHalla. It doesn’t offer Libranda much to work with in terms of backgrounds… little more than a pink-hued atmosphere (although colorist, Jose Villarrubia, does a nice job fading the hue as it gradates to the horizon). The scenes that take place within the Snark command ship are a bit more dynamic with the addition of Libranda’s skill for depicting backgrounds.
A few quick notes:
- very cool to see Karnak show up (albeit in a flashback). I’m loving the cast in Royals, but Karnak, Black Bolt and Lockjaw are greatly missed nonetheless.
- Swain seems to be still be quite shaken by her encounter with Ronan’s guilt-inducing powers. Even after the Snark who had possessed Swain’s powers was killed, she struggled in regaining control of them. It’s likely that her shaken confidence will continue to be explored in subsequent issues.
- Crystal remains the least refined member of the cast. Initially this seemed to be merely an issue of page-space economy, but I’m starting to wonder if Ewing knows exactly what he wants to do with Crystal. I hope she receives increased attention soon.
- It was neat to see the specific powers possessed by The Universal Inhuman Queens and the some of the members of their procession. Matriarch Oola of The Centurions possesses telekinesis; Queen Aladi Ko Eke of the Baddoon seems to have bone-like class that protract from her forearms. First Chair Onomi of the Kymellians has freeze breath. It’s unclear what powers are possessed by Avoe of the Dire Wraiths, but one of Oola’s Centurion aides has stretching powers.
- The distant-future-set prologue to the issue shows the aged Maximus and Noh-Varr making their way to a Sky Spear located in the heart of the ruined and flooded isle of Manhattan. The purpose of their mission remains unclear, but it is hinted that their actions five thousand years in the past has somehow incurred the wraith of the Progenitors; that these beings are coming to earth to extract some sort of vengeance.
Good stuff and highly recommend. Whereas Medusa and Gorgon’s kiss earns zero of five Lockjaws, the issue as a whole gets a solid four out of Five Lockjaws.