Sunday, September 18, 2016

Finish Big! Inhuman Volume 3: Lineage Makes Inhumans Interesting!

The Good: Decent artwork, Good plot progression, Moments of character
The Bad: Plot-heavy, Some unfortunately inconsistent transitions, Minimal thematic statement
The Basics: Inhuman Volume 3: Lineage finally exposes Lineage as an adversary to Medusa's Inhumans as his master plan takes shape.

When it comes to graphic novels, I can very clearly see the influence of television and movie works to increase readership. Indeed, I cannot conceive of a time I would have read the Inhumans graphic novels had I not felt like I was falling behind the curve on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.. But, alas, as I have pretty consistently watched the show and the television series has trumped the creation of an Inhumans movie, I decided to use some of my time over the summer new television hiatus to read some Inhumans graphic novels (or, more accurately, trade paperback anthologies). The final volume of my brief study of the Inhumans was Inhuman Volume 3: Lineage.

Inhuman Volume 3: Lineage is a short anthology that resolves the dangling plotline left from Inhuman Volume 2: Axis (reviewed here!). As a resolving book, it is impossible to discuss Inhuman Volume 3: Lineage without referencing where the story has been before, leading into this final volume. The anthology includes the three chapters of Inhuman comic books and a fourth chapter, which was originally published as the somewhat longer Annual issue. Inhuman Volume 3: Lineage progresses the story from Axis and pushes the Inhumans storyline to as much of a conclusion as one can expect . . . or at least the next major Marvel Comics crossover event that included the Inhumans.

Opening with New Attilan under attack by soldiers of the Ennilux Corporation, Naja, Inferno, Flint and Frank McGee find themselves cornered and losing the main gate when Black Bolt appears. While Black Bolt turns the tide, the Capo of Ennilux is determined to capture Iso, who remains protected within the city. Black Bolt destroys the Ennilux air ship right before Medusa returns and the search for survivors under the rubble of the damaged portions of New Attilan begins. After Black Bolt (silently) pledges to protect Iso, he and Medusa retreat to the throne room, where Black Bolt cedes to Medusa's authority.

While the NuHumans and Gabby enjoy a night out while Inferno plays a club, Lineage visits Eldrac. Lineage offers the giant teleporting head a deal and Eldrac appears to consent to his terms. Lineage then approaches Medusa and informs the Queen of a Kree laboratory that Black Bolt destroyed. He is surprised when Medusa informs him that she wants him to accompany her to the lab and when Eldrac teleports the Inhuman team to their destination, Lineage is immediately returned. Unfortunately, the others visiting New York City, find themselves in crisis when Inferno unexpectedly erupts while drumming, leaving them diminished when they return to New Attilan to discover the Queen gone. When Gorgon confronts Lineage, recognizing that he has the Inhuman Codex, the Nuhuman shoots the Queen's right hand man. While Medusa's team fights Lash's forces in the Carpathian Mountains where they were teleported, Lineage makes good on his promise to Eldrac and gives the teleporting head a body. Lineage soon makes his plan clear as he consumes the Capo to learn how to manipulate the Codex, which puts the Capo in After Life with the long-dead Inhuman, Karnak!

Inhuman Volume 3: Lineage culminates with the inclusion of the longer chapter (the Annual) which brings together the disparate elements and storylines in a big battle conclusion. Lineage uses the Codex to transmit a message to all Inhumans, new and old, declaring the Earth the dominion of the Inhumans. While Lineage causes the human population of Jersey City to turn on one another, Medusa and her team fight with Lash's forces until they are rescued (twice) from the least-likely of sources who turn on Lineage!

Inhuman Volume 3: Lineage has little redeeming literary value beyond completing the story already begun in the earlier books. The volume lacks much in the way of a statement, save beyond making the occasionally worthwhile point that every population has jerks within it. This is a concept that tends to work better in other corners of the Marvel Comics Universe given that - especially in the Inhuman renditions of Inhumans books - so many of the characters are victims, transformed without their consent into people who are ostracized and hunted by mundane humans. So, for sure, even some victims of crimes (which is what the analogy for the transformative nature of the Inhumans) might be jerks and use their victimization as a stepping stone to become victimizers themselves, the idea plays poorly in Inhuman Volume 3: Lineage. As it develops, Lineage simply develops into an unfortunately typical comic book villain.

Medusa comes back in full force in Inhuman Volume 3: Lineage. There is something very refreshing about Medusa asserting authority over New Attilan and not simply giving it back up because Black Bolt bothered to reappear. While there is a weird discontinuity between Medusa in the prior book and this volume, within Lineage, she is characterized as an effective leader who wants nothing more than to save her people. The artwork for Medusa is weird, though. In the final chapter, she suddenly appears in armor that she did not have panels before. Perhaps it is my ignorance of the Inhumans section of the Marvel Universe, but within Inhuman Volume 3: Lineage, it is presented inorganically.

Inhuman Volume 3: Lineage is fleshed out with underdeveloped characters that most readers will still not care about. The Nuhumans - outside Lineage - are presented in such an inconsequential and generic way that they only start to feel truly important as Medusa loses more of her close lieutenants and the Nuhumans get more panel space. Gabby's child is born and there is something predictable about the final panel of the book; the lack of surprise there makes for an underwhelming end to this stage of the Inhumans Saga.

For the bulk of the book, Inhuman Volume 3: Lineage features decent artwork. The colors are homogeneously bright and well-rendered. The artwork is impressive in that the more mundane Inhumans end up hanging out in several scenes and are still each recognizable.

Ultimately, Inhuman Volume 3: Lineage is very average; it is a decent end to a somewhat mediocre mutant-esque story that feels far from the center of the essential Marvel Comics universe.

For other Marvel graphic novels, please check out my reviews of:
Civil War: Marvel Universe
Deadpool Classics, Volume 1
She-Hulk: Jaded


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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