I’ve got a confession to make. In all my years readin’ comics (that’s a lotta years, let me tell ya) I’ve never really read much about The Inhumans. Sure, I’ve read stories featuring them, but never anything in which they were the main focus. I knew (some) of their names – Black Bolt, Medusa, Crystal and Lockjaw. And more of them by sight – Dude with the really, really, ru-huh-healllly high forehead. Randy Pan the goat boy. Creature from the Black Lagoon.
I decided, what with BB being one of the major players in ‘Infinity’ and ‘New Avengers’ (two books I’m diggin’ immensely at the moment) that I’d remedy this, post-haste. So, I picked up the 1998 maxi-series (GAWD! I HATE that THAT, is a thing. “Maxi-series.” Seriously? Whatevah! I’m over it, dude.) ‘The Inhumans’ by Paul Jenkins and, my favourite of the Lees, Jae.
It. Is. Amazin’!
This is not your average superhero book. In fact, I’d argue that it’s not a superhero book at all. It’s so much more than a political thriller, or a social commentary. It’s not just a tale of family either. This book is more than the sum of its parts. Much, much more.
In twelve issues, Jenkins introduces us not only to the Royal Family of Attilan (Black Bolt, Medusa, Crystal, Karnak – he of the massive forehead, Gorgon – goat boy, Trigon – fish fingers, and of course, Lockjaw) but also gives us an insight into the entire culture of The Inhumans.
Each issue focuses on a different aspect of life in Attilan, whilst still driving the story forward. The second issue, for example, revolves around a group of teenagers, friends who are about to enter the Terrigen Mists (the catalyst which unlocks their genetic potential) and emerge changed. Altered in ways both subtle and very, very obvious, to take up their new roles in life. Even in a society which not only celebrates diversity, but which is founded upon it, bigotry remains a problem. All Inhumans are created unequal, but some Inhumans are more unequal than others it would seem.
Jenkins’ story involves Black Bolt’s brother, Maximus the Mad’s attempts to escape the prison which is his home when we first meet him, and also to rest control of Attilan from his stoic sibling (and steal his bride – I know, right? Dick!). Along the way there’re conspiracies, political intrigue, infighting and a few genuinely touching moments (the issues focusing on Lockjaw – “Mm. Chompy food. Happy wag-wag-wag.” – and Triton in particular will have you reachin’ for those man-sized tissues).
What can I say about Jae Lee? I may no’ know Art (seriously, who the fuck is Art?) but I knows what I likes. Jae Lee > Jim Lee in this fanboy’s opinion. Jae is the Suicide Girl to Jim’s airbrushed supermodel. Jae’s art has… personality where Jim’s is blandly beautiful. Why bring up Jim Lee at all? Easy peasy – Beatles or the Stones? Blur or Oasis? Pepsi or Coke? (In order? Both. Neither. Pepsi.) Nothing to do with anything I know. Just sayin’. Plus, their names are vaguely similar. Sometimes that’s enough.
The bestest Lee absolutely KILLS on this series! The sheer number of different mutations amongst the Inhumans allows this supremely talented artist to let his imagination run riot (lucky fer us).
In short, ‘The Inhumans’ is what comics were invented for. Twelve issues of four-coloured perfection. Don’t believe me? Go track it down and see for yourself. I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.