Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Reader's Diary #1267- Paul Jenkins (Writer) and Jae Lee (Artist): Inhumans (Collecting 1-12)

As much as I enjoy superhero movies— more than the comics, usually— I am a little concerned with how entrenched they're getting with their formulas. Marvel will always do light, even when they should do dark (i.e., the Age of Ultron), DC will always do dark, even when they should do light (Superman). It's all because Iron Man and The Dark Knight made a gazillion dollars each. Now that Dead Pool has made similar money, they'll all be cramming R ratings down our throat even when it doesn't fit.

I bring this up because Inhumans is not funny. There may have been a chuckle here or there, but if so, I've forgotten already. Now, it's a ways off (release date in 2019), but unless things change dramatically, Marvel is already planning to make this a comedy with no real peril at all. That would be a shame.

I didn't know much of the Inhumans going into this book, but I'd picked up pieces here or there. Agents of SHIELD has been featuring them regularly (which will be interesting to see if the movies still ignore their TV counterparts) and their mythos has featured a little in other comics. Ms. Marvel is perhaps the most popular character in recent Marvel Comics history to get her powers through Terrigen Mists. 

To back up for the unfamiliar: The Inhumans are supposed to be a species that begins life as human but then, if they are exposed to a Terrigen Mist, have latent superpowers revealed (often with physical mutations as well). This is all the result of genetic experiments forced upon humankind by an alien species many thousands of years ago. 

Many have speculated that their recent popularity, despite appearing in the comics back in the 60's is in no small part due to marketing and manipulation from Marvel Studios. Having given up (and no doubt regretting having to have made the decision) the movie rights to their wildly popular X-Men characters back in the 90s, it's very believable that they're hoping the Inhumans (basically mutants from a different origin) can fill the niche and reign supreme. 

What's fascinating about Jenkins and Lee's story, however, is how different the characters appear from X-Men. Or their other characters for that matter. For one, they barely appear as superheroes at all. They have powers, sure, but it's not like they really use them. Certainly not for the betterment of humankind. In fact, until they are attacked by humans, they don't seem to be using them to better Inhumankind either. They just seem to have them. They want to live peacefully, amongst their own and isolated from their human cousins. 

Their leader, Black Bolt, is intriguing though. He doesn't speak at all. His voice is his superpower and as much as a whisper could level a mountain. He must meditate so as not to talk in his sleep. He does, however, communicate telepathically through his wife and a few others. This means that artist Lee must capture Black Bolt's emotions and he does magnificently. He comes across as introspective but with a certain slyness as well.

For the most part Lee's art is strong throughout. Characters are drawn in sharp, realistic lines but with thick shadows befitting of Jenkins' story. As for the story itself, it's good, but feels a bit like a set-up story. In that regard, good timing on Marvel Comics to re-release it as a collected volume. Originally published in 98-99, it works today, giving a strong sense of the characters and providing a good starting point.

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