The Inhumans

The Inhumans
The Inhumans graphic novel review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Marvel - 0-8713-5435-7
  • Release date: 1988
  • UPC: 9780871354358
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Superhero

There has been a considerable progress for the Inhumans since this 1988 graphic novel, which still concentrates primarily on the members of their royal family. It also very much echoes the time of production, with characters continually explaining themselves in thought balloons, and discussions that could occur reasonably being over-dramatised in vein-bulging anger.

This all works against what writer Ann Nocenti is trying to do. She’s questioning both the validity of a society ruled by a royal family, and of a judgemental council arbitrating on whether or not Inhuman citizens should give birth. The various viewpoints are given voice by assorted members of that royal family, and as is the case in every story starring the Inhumans before the 21st century, tensions are exploited by ruler Black Bolt’s brother Maximus. He’s referred to by all and sundry as ‘Maximus the Mad’, yet still finds it woefully easy to persuade people to his methods. That’s not the only element of poor characterisation. Medusa, the king’s wife, is in places a sobbing and simpering fool far beyond any hormonal effects of her pregnancy. Gorgon is a constantly angry and rampaging presence, and Maximus lives up to his nickname to the point of random coherence. It’s not clear how this confused presence could coagulate enough will to manipulate anyone, never mind serve as the villain of the piece.

Bret Blevins’ art as inked by Al Williamson is extraordinarily varied. There are delicate pages of great decorative beauty and others created with little imagination displaying the minimum professional application.

When Medusa becomes pregnant the ruling council order her to terminate the pregnancy, and Black Bolt won’t contradict them. This leads to most of the remaining members of the royal family decamping to an abandoned scrapyard outside Las Vegas to work through their problems at interminable length. It’s ponderous, dull and hollow, and worth no-one’s time today. Despite this, it’s been combined with a slightly later Inhumans story in a collection titled Right of Birth.