The Royal Inhumans adventure into the cosmos starts here from the creative team of Al Ewing, Jonboy Meyers, and Ryan Kinnaird.
It’s a desperate a somber time for The Inhumans of New Attilan. The threat that the Terrigen Cloud would end all Mutant life on Earth forced Queen Medusa to destroy the cloud, essentially ending The Inhumans’ way of life. No new Inhuman will again be able to go through Terrigenesis and their people must look toward to an uncertain future and the inevitable demise of their culture and heritage. Feeling responsible for the events that brought this about, Medusa has decided that her people need a new leader to guide them on this new path. She has abdicated her position as queen and dissolved the monarchy; handing leadership of New Attilan to the young Inhuman, Iso.
Now the Kree adventurer known as Marvel Boy has come to seek an audience with Iso and the formal royal Inhumans. Marvel Boy hails from an alternate reality, a reality in which The Kree Empire had ended its unyielding wars and dedicated itself to peace and scientific discovery. To this end, Marvel Boy possesses knowledge of Terrigen that could revitalize the Inhuman peoples and enable them to re-obtain the rite of Terrigenesis for subsequent generations.
Marvel Boy warns that the mission to gain the secrets of Terrigen is likely to be a perilous one, that were they to embark on this quest all might not make it home. This ominous warning does little to sway the Royals. The prospect of possibly saving the future of their race is worth any risk. Furthermore, Medusa feels it her duty, her penitence to take this journey as redemption for past failures. And her family is not going to let her go alone.
Iso, the new leader of the Inhumans, objects. Having the Royals, the strongest among the Inhumans, leave New Attilan in this precarious time of change feels far too risky, but Medusa and the others will not be swayed in their determination. The former queen had named Iso her successor, but it doesn’t seem she is actually willing to follow this lead herself.
Joining Medusa is her sister, Crystal, and their cousin, Gorgon. Black Bolt, Medusa’s one-time husband and the former king of The Inhumans will also accompany the team; as will the young new Inhuman, Swain, whose one-time position as captain of the Royal Inhuman Vessel makes her the ideal candidate to pilot their star-faring craft. Rounding out the team is Swain’s fellow new Inhuman, Flint.
The remaining Royals, Karnak, Triton and Lockjaw will remain behind. They will be there if Iso were to need their assistance, yet this does little to quell Iso’s unease. Making matters more difficult for Iso is the revelation that Iso and Flint have rekindled their romance; and she appears a touch heartbroken that Flint is so insistent on accompanying the Royals in this dangerous mission.
Prior to their departure, each member of the team makes their preparations and says their goodbyes. Crystal sits with her young daughter, Luna, expressing the great import behind her leaving and promising that she will return in short time. Crystal makes Luna promise to stay out of trouble. If trouble is to find her, however, she is to use Lockjaw to seek out her uncle Karnak (a foreshadowing that I so hopes come to pass in that it enhances the likelihood of Luna meeting Karnak’s soon-to-be teammate, Moon Girl in the pages of the up-coming Secret Warriors series).
Elsewhere, Swain is a bit saddened that her girlfriend, Panacea, is less upset over her leaving. Terrigenesis has significantly altered Panacea’s emotional process. She doesn’t feel things in a typical fashion. She cares for Swain, but the closest she can get to a declaration of tenderness is to state that she finds her fascinating and prefers that she stay alive.
We also see Gorgon beside the bed of his son, Petras, still convalescing in a coma-like state from his adverse reaction to Terrigenesis. Gorgon had hoped that he would be at his son’s side when he finally awakens, but duty has called. Panacea has been using her healing powers to treat Petras, as she had treated Gorgon; yet it appears there are limitations to what she can do. Gorgon is no longer paralyzed, but remains in a state of chronic pain, pain that substantially worsens whenever he uses his powers (not that he has allowed it to slow him down).
There is additionally a scene between Flint and Iso where we learn that the two have become an item once again. Flint has a difficult time expressing exactly what it is that has so compelled him to volunteer for this mission. Flint lost his adoptive family and discovered his biological family to be less than the idealized fantasy that he had hoped for. The Inhumans themselves are the family he has left and aiding them feels like something he simply has to do.
Next we see Medusa and Black Bolt. The relationship between the two has warmed as of late, but they remain a great deal distant compared to the intimate closeness they once enjoyed. Medusa has something she needs to speak with Black Bolt about, but he refuses to discuss it. Something is preoccupying Black Bolt, something likely having to do with the secret told to him by his brother in the pages of last week’s Inhumans Prime.
Finally, we see Noh-Varr, the mysterious Kree known as Marvel Boy. It turns out that there is more than simple altruism and the thirst for adventure that has led him to bring this quest to The Royals. Noh has motives of his own and whether or not they are sinister or benevolent remains to be seen. I assume that is Noh’s old buddy, the living computer known as, Plex, that he’s talking with (but I suppose we’ll have to wait to find out for sure).
The seven adventurers depart at dawn aboard the starcraft, Astarion, named after an Inhuman hero of ancient lore. Their destination the former Kree throne-world of Hala.
The issue begins with two prologues. The first prologue shows the distant future of a mysterious realm known as Arctilan. Giant armor-clad beings ride atop enormous pterodactyls above an alien city of glass and steel. Yet is it an alien world? Various hints suggest that this strange realm may be the earth of five thousand years in the future.
One of the riders descends down to a tower baring the flags of the House of Boltigon. There he is met by ‘the ghost who ever sleeps,’ a frail and ancient being who bears a passing resemblance to an aged Black Bolt. The rider refers to the older, much smaller man as ‘Inhu-Man.’ Solemnly, the old man trades salutations with the rider before returning inside to his lonely layer. He looks up to a large stone carving in which mysterious words are inscribed in the Inhuman language of Tilan.
The man seems to be recalling back to an adventure from his distant past… a mission in which seven ventured forth and only six returned.
Who exactly this ancient Inhuman is and the dire nature of his statement is set to be revealed in subsequent installments of the story.
A second prologue shows Medusa, Gorgon, Iso and Flint battling to contain a new Inhuman who has awaken from Terrigenesis to find herself transformed into a giant monster. Frightened and confused, this new Inhuman has lashed out and the others have come contain her and help her contend with what has happened to her.
Her name is Mrs. Bellhauer. She was a recluse and her time in her Terrigenic cocoon was longer than most. In all likelihood, she will be the last of the new Inhumans created on earth and the mere thought of it is enough to bring a tear to Medusa’s eye.
Iso and Flint make short work of subduing the rampaging Mrs. Bellhauer. Though she is proud over just how far her pupils have come, Medusa is also given pause by how weak and tired she has been feeling as of late. Something is wrong and it is getting worse quickly. She had tried to confide in Black Bolt about this matter, but he hadn’t the time to discuss it.
At the end of the issue we see Medusa sitting in the command chair aboard The Astarion. She notices that a sizable lock of her hair has broken free from her mane, brittle and sick. She can push it to the back of her thinking no more. Something is very wrong and she announces to the rest of the crew her grave prediction…
seven ventured forth and only six returned…
Wow! What a great first issue. This is the Inhumans that I have been so looking forward to seeing. I’m one of those fans who greatly enjoyed Charles Soule run on The Inhumans, yet I understood that he was asked to follow a guideline to make the franchise more accessible to a broader audience, to make them more akin to traditional super heroics. Al Ewing has clearly been given no such constraints and he delves right into all of the weird, cosmic, sci-fi coolness that has made The Inhumans so special to me.
Referring to the earlier scene, Medusa looks up at this poor woman who has been transformed into a giant slimy monster and sheds a tear that the majesty of this may never happen again. There is not even the consideration that this Mrs. Bellhauer likely doesn’t feel the same; indeed she’s probably quite distraught over having been transformed into a monster. Yet that’s not how Medusa sees it… why? Because she’s a weird alien queen from a bizarre and outré culture. No apologies are given. The Inhumans are all about sci-fi weirdness and Ewing is allowing it to go their full steam ahead. It makes me almost giddy with excitement.
Though I’m certainly less excited and not giddy at all over this prospect that Medusa may be dying. We all know that one member of the team is destined to perish on this mission, it has hung like an ominous cloud over the title since Ewing’s initial interviews regarding the project in which he stated a cast member wasn’t going to make it back. Medusa was among the Inhumans I felt least likely to die. There is of course no certainty that she will die, but it’s made clear from the onset that none of the Inhumans are safe. It’s a matter that makes me equal parts excited and frightened to read the nest installment.
The dialogue captures the characters quite well and it is made abundantly clear that Ewing has boned up on his Inhuman reading in preparing for this run. I’m especially happy to see so many of the plot threads from James Asmus’ all-too-short run on All New Inhumans being brought back into the foreground (such as Swain and Panacea’s relationship and the status of Gorgon’s son, Petras). It’s impressive that the issue packs so much plot yet the characterizations doesn’t at all feel pushed to the back burner.
Lots of intriguing questions are asked not just about The Royals’ mission, but also over what is going on for each of the cast members. What is Marvel Boy’s ulterior motives? Why is Gorgon pushing himself so hard? What secret is Black Bolt harboring? Why is Crystal leaving so soon after reuniting with her daughter? What so compels Flint to join the team? Why is Swain so reluctant over her powers? And most importantly, is Medusa going to be okay???
I’m happy to report that I very much enjoyed the art by Jonboy Meyers and Ryan Kinnaird. The initial preview had me a bit worried that Meyers’ kinetic, manga style would not be to my liking… that it would look too similar to those 1990’s-era books from Image Comics that so turned me off. There’s a lot of flash to Meyer’s illustration. The poses are exaggerated and the action jumps off the page with dynamic energy. Yet he also does quite well in using facial expressions to relay emotion. Medusa’s sorrow, Noh-Varr’s smirky arrogance, Flint’s anxious determination and Black Bolt’s stoic unease are all extremely evident in the way Meyers’ details their faces and expressions. Top marks.
Furthermore Meyers’ page composition and backgrounds are very nicely executed. In short, I’m relived and excited that my reservations over Meyers’ art were completely unfounded.
A brand new chapter of The Inhumans mythos starts here and it is a truly fantastic (albeit frightening) beginning.
I’ll be very interested to hear what others thought about this debut issue. As an Inhuman super-fan, I feel like I’m not very suited to write an unbiased review. Nevertheless, with this issue, I’m feeling rather confident that others are going to share in my enthusiasm.
Of course recommended; Five out of Five Lockjaws.