Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Olivier Coipel
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: December 4, 2013
I am not an events person. I’m really not. Infinity was my first ever experience with a Marvel event. I figured I’d try one and then be done. Then they had to put Matt Fraction in charge of the follow up, and who am I to resist the call of the man who wrote a Queen musical number into a comic (unsubtle Sex Criminals plug).
Inhumanity is like a summary and a teaser all rolled into one. Primarily, it’s the prologue to the Next Big Thing, a multi-title crossover centered around a new series starting next year called Inhuman, also written by Fraction. This one-shot does a nice job setting the stage for what’s to come, explaining some deep Marvel mythology in a way accessible to new readers, and introducing a mystery that has consequences both very personal and global.
The issue is also a recap of the key events of Infinity, which are nicely streamlined; I think it leaves out at least one major detail that will become very important later. To keep it brief, Black Bolt, King of the Inhumans, blew up the floating city-state of Attilan, home of the Inhumans, as a giant middle finger to Thanos, who wants his secret bastard Inhuman son dead. The explosion unleashes the “Terrigen mists”, which give the Inhumans their powers, on an unsuspecting human population. Turns out a bunch of humans have latent Inhuman DNA; those people suddenly enveloped in cocoons and started hatching with superpowers!
The story centers around the Avengers, the Illuminati and the Inhuman Queen aka Mrs. Black Bolt, Medusa, questioning Karnak (a very smart and somewhat crazy Inhuman) about what the hell happened and what Black Bolt was thinking. The conversation between Karnak and Hawkeye alone is worth the price of the entire issue – I’ve never experienced Fraction writing Clint Barton while he is an Avenger, so that was a nice change of pace. I also felt very much like Hawkeye in that moment, since as a newer reader I have zero background on Inhuman history. The story Karnak tells is as full of royal intrigue as Black Bolt’s (supposed) motivations, and reveals a massive secret known only to the (late?) king about the Inhuman race – SPOILER – the Inhumans long ago splintered, and the separatists formed a colony on Earth and bred with humans. END SPOILER. Karnak has a very nasty freak out about some very ominous portents from the future. The big mysteries: What was Black Bolt really hiding, where is he (I don’t think he’s dead) and what is Karnak so afraid of?
Olivier Coipel and Laura Martin do a lovely job on the art – I don’t think I’ve ever seen Hawkeye look quite that good, and Medusa’s hair appears to have emotions (DOES IT?). Leinil Yu and Dustin Weaver do the flashbacks and the difference is almost seamless – each sequence is clearly separate from the main timeline of the story, but it all still looks and feels consistent. I clap extra hard for any artist who can convey facial emotion through weird masks and helmets.
As I stated earlier, this book is part Infinity postscript and part Inhuman teaser. Based on her role in this book, I’m very curious about Fraction’s upcoming Inhumanity: Medusa one-shot. I’m much more familiar with Black Bolt than his Queen, and I think her story coming out of this issue will be the meatiest – she’s stuck wondering what her husband was doing behind her back, while also having to lead her splintered people. Not to mention her entire worldview has been upended and she’s homeless. I hope that the Inhuman series will focus not just on regular people with new powers, but the inevitable Game of Thrones-style power struggle resulting from the diaspora. Inhumanity is a solid introduction to a drama set in a very weird corner of the Marvel Universe, and I’d like to see Fraction thrive in that weirdness and tell a story with a more refined scope than the galaxy-sprawling epic that led us here.
The Verdict: 8.5/10