Grew up reading comic books in the 90's. Marvel fan at heart. Hulk, the Midnight Sons, and Marvel's cosmic universe are my favorites.
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Royals #1 marks the beginning of a new era in the adventures of the Black Bolt, Medusa, and their Inhuman family. Marvel lays the groundwork for the next installment of the Inhumans saga. ComiConverse contributor Mitch Nissen takes a look.
Royals #1: An Inhuman Space Odyssey
The Inhumans have long been a part of the Marvel continuum, first appearing way back in 1965. Genuine Jack Kirby and Stan Lee originals, the Inhumans jumped out on the Marvel radar in a big way after the 2014 comic book event Infinity. The following mini event Inhumanity ushered in a regular monthly series that has continued on to this day, in one incarnation or another.
Writers Jonathan Hickman and Matt Fraction laid the foundation, crashing the Inhuman city of Attilan into New York harbor and unleashing the Terrigen Cloud on the Earth. Writer Charles Soule took those ideas and ran with them, acting as the primary architect of the Inhumans saga for the last three years. Everything Soule has been building toward came to a head in the 2017 event Inhumans Vs X-Men. Now the Terrigen Cloud is no more and the Inhumans no longer have a reason to remain on Earth.
Soule has handed over the reins to writer Al Ewing. Ewing’s initial foray, the book Inhumans Prime, saw the ending of Soule’s Inhumans saga and set the stage for the next series: Royals.
The monarchy is over. Black Bolt and Medusa have long ruled over the Inhumans. Under their reign the Inhumans have experienced more upheavals and more war than any other reign in Inhuman history. And now because of them the Terrigen, the most sacred element to inhumanity, is no more. Medusa recognizes the fact that, while they have always had their people’s best interests in mind, the royal family may not be what’s best for the Inhumans.
Noh-Varr, the Kree man known as Marvel Boy, arrives at New Attilan with an offer of atonement for the royal family. While the Inhumans have long existed on Earth, their origins lay in outer space with the Kree. With no more Terrigen remaining on Earth there will be no more Inhumans. Marvel Boy offers to lead them on a journey through space to unlock the secrets of their origin and a chance to save inhumanity from extinction.
Al Ewing fills the first issue of Royals with a ton content and story fodder. The book opens five thousand years in the future on what looks like an alien world or city. There is a figure suspiciously similar to Black Bolt, aged and brooding, but speaking as well. A bit of cryptic dialog hints that something has happened to one of the seven Inhumans who ventured into space, which character remains unclear.
Then the narrative jumps to the present and to an action scene where Gorgon and Medusa attempt to stop a new Inhuman. The new Inhuman appears to have stayed in its cocoon far too long, warping its terragenesis. Medusa and Gorgon flounder whilst trying to contain the creature when Iso and Flint arrive and quickly subdue the monster. The scene plants feelings of inadequacy in Medusa, shaking her confidence.
Then Marvel Boy arrives with a proposition: a space odyssey to the Kree galaxy. Medusa, already questioning her purpose and searching for a means of redemption, jumps at the opportunity. But Marvel Boy appears to have a secret agenda for this space mission as well. After saying goodbye to their loved ones, Medusa, Black Bolt, Crystal, Gorgon, Flint, Swain, and Marvel Boy set out on their voyage.
And finally a figurative plot bomb is dropped on the last page.
I say again, Ewing packs this issue with content.
The art from Jonboy Meyers has flare and intensity capable of displaying the Inhumans at their best. His new costume designs for the characters are fresh and dynamic, injecting new life into the characters. Ryan Kinnaird’s colors compliment the pencils very well. His colors are vibrant and fun. Together Meyers and Kinnaird give the book life and personality. Hopefully the two of them will stay on the book for a long run.
The X-Men/Inhuman Dilema and the Case for Space
It’s no secret that the current Inhumans push by Marvel has been met with some resistance by readers. Ever since someone said, “The Inhumans can be the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s answer to mutants,” some have viewed these characters as a direct threat to the X-Men. Rumors around the comic book water cooler for a while were that Marvel Comics was going to do away with their X-Men line altogether, just as they had done with the Fantastic Four. And whats more, that in the place of the X-Men, would be the Inhumans.
This is not the case as the X-Men are currently experiencing a relaunch of their books, and a hefty number of books at that. Even so, there are still many who see the Inhumans as the opposition. And that just shouldn’t be.
Both groups of characters were created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, the X-Men in 1963 and the Inhumans in 1965. They were meant to coexist. If Marvel wants their new push of the Inhumans to succeed they probably shouldn’t place them at odds with all of the X-Men fans. And if the Earth isn’t big enough for both the X-Men and Inhumans, send one of them into space.
I’ve always been intrigued with the Inhumans, but where I became a fan of them was when the Inhumans went cosmic. After the 2008 Marvel event, Secret Invasion, the Inhumans took to the stars to personally hunt down the Skrulls to extinction. They invaded the Kree homeworld of Hala, took advantage of their weakened state after the Annihilation wars, and became rulers of the Kree Empire.
The War Of Kings event placed the Inhumans in the spotlight, teaming up with the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Nova Corps, and the Starjammers against the Shi’Ar Empire. Crystal married Ronan. Maximus and Groot built weapons together. And Black Bolt and Vulcan went all out against each other, literally ripping outer space a new one.
In outer space the Inhumans can really cut loose.
Writer Al Ewing, over the last year and a half, has been deep diving into the Marvel cosmic universe with the book The Ultimates. Within that book Ewing has demonstrated that he can handle the strange and esoteric concepts such as the Cosmic Abstracts (characters like Eternity, Lord Chaos, and Master Order). Galactus and Thanos have been somewhat regular players in his narrative too.
In Royals Ewing is taking the Inhumans far from Earth into the outer reaches of space.
In Inhumans Prime we see Maximus whisper something to Black Bolt. We don’t know what was said yet, but suffice it to say that whatever was said has disturbed Black Bolt greatly. It is also hinted at in that book that they will be carting Maximus with them into space to be locked away in some super max prison. Whether they actually make it to this intergalactic prison or not could make for an exciting subplot.
Ewing also plants the idea of the Inhumans returning to the Kree Empire. This is a natural progression as the Kree are the beings who made the Inhumans to begin with. Ewing suggests that Medusa will have to dig deeper into how exactly the Kree succeeded in making Inhumans, an idea rife with story potential. And then there’s the prospect of Crystal reuniting with Ronan for the first time in years.
Just a story delving deeper into the relationship between the Kree and the Inhumans would be intriguing. Exploring more of the reasons why the Kree made the Inhumans beyond the weapons aspect, why they were abandoned on Earth, and so on. Maybe the Kree made more Inhumans with different races from other planets, Inhumans with different powers, ideologies, and totally different forms of terragenesis.
The Inhumans are too powerful, too weird, and too complex to remain on Earth. Al Ewing could do all this and more by taking the Inhumans to space. And of all the writers currently at Marvel he’s one of the few that could.
All of this seems like a very good and exciting direction to take these characters who have perhaps overstayed their welcome on Earth. Earth based stories are limited in ways in which cosmic stories are not. The Inhumans need a bigger stage than Earth in which to realize their full potential.
Overall Royals feels like a step in the right direction for reinvigorating the Inhumans line of books and differentiating them from the X-Men. There’s a ton of potential here and I hope this book will last long enough for Ewing, Meyers, and Kinnaird explore it.
Are you a fan of the Inhumans too?
What did you think of Royals #1 and Al Ewing’s new direction?
Let us know in the comments below.
Mitch Nissen is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @NinjaMitche
Writer Al Ewing, artist Jonboy Meyers, and colorist Ryan Kinnaird show us the next phase in the saga of the Inhumans. Royals #1 is packed with story and exciting artwork. The Inhumans are going cosmic where endless possibilities await.