(Marvel Comics, 2014)
Written by Charles Soule
Artwork by Ryan Stegman
Color Artwork by Marte Gracia
This series was originally conceived as a Matt Fraction project, however when artistic differences reared their insidious head it fell to Charles Soule to save the day and the book, which he has done by slowly and methodically building a complex and engrossing narrative that features old Inhumans characters together with those who have recently discovered their dormant powers when exposed to the Terrigen Mist of the Original Sin event. Soule has done a spectacular job on the merits of his writing alone, but when you consider the circumstances under which he was brought on board it seems all the more impressive, especially the very early issues. However, like any long-time Inhumans fan, I am anxiously awaiting the return of King Black Bolt and wondering if that auspicious event will be taking place in this series, it seems to me that this would be an obvious chance to get new readers on board. I had the chance to speak with Charles at this year’s Baltimore Comic Con and when I asked him very specifically if Black Bolt would be appearing in the pages of Inhuman he assured me that not only would the exiled Inhuman King be back but he would be showing up as soon as issue #7.
Soule seems to have hit his stride as he brings the first major arc to a close with issue six of Inhuman. The growth has been most noticeable in the character interactions, particularly with the older original Inhumans relating to the more recently “changed” Inhumans or Nuhumans, as they have been dubbed. The central Nuhuman has thus far been Dante who has renamed himself Inferno. The renaming has come to represent a kind of acceptance or acknowledgment of one’s newly discovered powers, this is an example of the nuanced details that Soule has been giving us throughout his run. He rather meticulously describes much of the minutiae of becoming a Nuhuman and thereby broadens the picture giving us an idea of how even the most subtle changes take effect.
The villain in this initial arc is simply and ominously called The Unspoken, he has become much more than a threat to New Attilan, he has become the very catalyst that will force these young Nuhumans to work together as a cohesive unit to save their new home and fight for their Queen, Medusa. The underlying conflict is of a far more political nature but on the surface it is an all-out war and Soule does a fantastic job of keeping the action fast paced and exciting. This first arc has been understandably a bit awkward, however now that we are moving out of it into uncharted area, Soule can now make this book completely his own, free from the encumbrance of Fraction’s shadow.
Ryan Stegman has risen to the challenge of stepping into some very big shoes as he has taken over for the extremely popular and talented artist, Joe Madureira. Joey Mad’s work is among the most recognizable and influential of any artist working today. He has left his indelible mark on many of Marvel’s top characters rendering them in iconic poses and dynamic, larger than life action sequences. Stegman’s work has much of the same energetic style as Madureira’s however; Stegman’s lines are a bit crisper giving his work an overall cleaner appearance while maintaining that visceral energy. His clever use of panel placement and kinetic page composition work especially well in action packed narratives, he really seems to have a handle on what Soule is going for and that chemistry is reflected in his artwork.
I was more than a little worried at the beginning of this series with the entire Fraction fracas but Charles Soule being the consummate professional that he is, has come in like a hired gun and killed it. Soule has put any lingering doubts out of my head and delivered a top notch book month after month. I expect the series to improve from here as Soule has the opportunity to really come into his own. The Inhumans are not the run of the mill super heroes, in fact they are not even all heroes, much like mutants they are more a species of beings. In the hands of the right creative team I have no doubt that this could be the next very big thing for Marvel and this could very well be that team. (4/5)
Shawn is an aspiring writer/ artist who has been reading, collecting and living comic books for over 30 years. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, their son, lots of cats, dogs and other various finned and furry friends.