Wednesday, August 17, 2016

About Average Set-Up: Inhuman Volume 1: Genesis Fails To Sell The Franchise!

The Good: General sense of ethics, Good coloring
The Bad: Erratic artwork, Uninteresting characters, Fairly banal plot
The Basics: In an effort to understand Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., I pick up Inhuman Volume 1: Genesis and find myself underwhelmed.

As I went through my latest viewing of the third season of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., my wife turned to me and commented of the Inhumans on the show, "They're like Mutants from X-Men, right?" While that led to an abbreviated discussion of Marvel and its licensing rights for various franchises from the comic book series's, I was generally at a loss to describe the differences between Mutants and Inhumans, within the context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, outside of what was in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.. That inspired me to pick up some Inhumans graphic novels and in starting with Inhuman Volume 1: Genesis, it is very hard not to feel like The Inhumans truly is a cheap retread of X-Men.

After all, in Inhuman Volume 1: Genesis, there is a benevolent leader of the Inhumans (Medusa), who is set upon by a fanatic who believes he knows what is best for the Inhuman race (Lash) and they feel very similar to the movie versions of Charles Xavier and Magneto. Inhuman Volume 1: Genesis is essentially a rebuilding story as The Inhumans are brought into the Marvel Now! reboot and it acts as a new start which introduces several new characters, while feeling like it is a continuation of a much larger story.

Black Bolt was the King Of The Inhumans, working in his city in the sky, Attilan, when he set off a bomb of terrigen, setting off a cloud of Terrigen Mist that traveled over the Atlantic. As people in Europe start to transform as inert Inhuman genes within them are activated, many are hunted by Lash, an Inhuman who believes that the Terrigen bomb is creating far too many Inhumans. In the ruins of Attilan, in the Hudson River, Queen Medusa tries to offer safe haven to new Inhumans, including Dante, a young man whose power is to create and harness fire. Dante wants to save his pregnant sister, but needs training, which Gorgon (Medusa's loyal Inhuman follower) provides.

While Lash takes in a young man whose power seems to be to manipulate rock, Medusa launches an attack on Orrolan, the city where Lash is bringing his new Inhumans. Medusa rescues some of the new Inhumans and threatens Lash because it seems Black Bolt had a plan that required Inhumans to save the world. Shortly after Medusa makes New Attilan into a safe harbor for Inhumans, she is visited by The Unspoken, an Inhuman who was once king, who knows where there are more Terrigen crystals in the ruins and wants them in order to stage a coup!

Inhuman Volume 1: Genesis is a mix of (apparently) established characters like Medusa, Gorgon, and Lash, and the NuHumans - Dante, Jason and Naja - and the balance is hardly exceptional. Medusa's powers within the book are unclear - she has incredibly long hair that seems to be fire-resistant and able to move on its own (to do things like whip out windows) - and the limitations of characters like Gorgon and Lash are equally un-explicit within Inhuman Volume 1: Genesis. Their somewhat nebulous natures are contrasted by very clear skills for Dante (Inferno) and Naja (who looks very much like a flying squirrel). Medusa and Lash's philosophical differences do not seem exceptional - Lash's solution to the problem Black Bolt created is lethal, while Medusa's is based in compassion, but both seem to want Inhumans to be safe from humans.

The artwork in Inhuman Volume 1: Genesis is hardly great; few panels have a decent sense of movement to them and the fight scenes in the later chapters are particularly opaque. The characters are generally recognizable, which allows for several lazy panels that just feature outlines of Medusa in front of people she is speaking to with her hair wild behind her. Despite the erratic artwork, the coloring is homogeneously good throughout the book.

But Inhuman Volume 1: Genesis does not go far and, as a newcomer, it is hard to get invested in this particular corner of the Marvel Comics universe as none of the characters "pop" and the story's "beginning" is burdened with the weight of past events. The magnitude of those events and the characters involved has ramifications within Inhuman Volume 1: Genesis, but they fail to make the reader care about the past or future of the Inhumans.

For other Marvel graphic novels, please check out my reviews of:
Avengers Vs. X-Men: It's Coming
Daredevil: West-Case Scenario
She-Hulk: Law And Disorder


For other book reviews, please check out my Book Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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