The Inhumans Review: Silently Strong

“Imagine you could never make another sound, not for the rest of your life. Not a sigh. Not a yawn. Not a single word. Ever. Then, Imagine you were given one chance to speak. What would you say?”

These words are the opening page to Marvel’s story of the obscure super-powered beings known as The Inhumans. The 12-issue collection that ran from 1998-1999, Inhumans, tells the story of the conflict not only within the walls of the secret city of Attilan, but also the struggles that the secluded society faces against the encroaching world around them. The silent king of the Inhumans, Black Bolt, faces many difficult decisions and even his closest subjects begin to lose faith in him.

The most astounding feat of both the writer and artist is that they took a collection of several characters who were never really stand alone heroes and built an entire story around them. While the Inhumans did have their own story and history, it was scattered among various other comics. The 12 issue collection took all that information and turned it into a living and breathing city.

The reader gets a view at the society actually functions. When a child comes of age they undergo an induced change that unlocks their unique genetic potential. After that point, your alteration determines your social caste. Childhood friends are lost, families are torn apart, all because one person’s change was a disgrace. An uprising occurs in the city that the king and most powerful Inhuman, Black Bolt, most face. At the same time though a group of renegade soldiers attacks the borders of the isolated Attilan.

Despite their name, the Inhumans are much more humane than the actual human race. All those in the city wish to be left alone as the world outside bombs the barriers to take over the city. It is a wonderful contrast to see the real inhumans against those simply deemed Inhuman.

The is matched perfectly to the atmosphere of the entire story. Heavy inking and shadows reveal even at a glimpse the dark tones that accompany the story of this tale. The shadows that consume half of most characters leaves a hint as to who the real monsters are, who is hiding a secret, and who is simply afraid of what is to come.

The project itself was a big risk for Marvel to take and could have potentially ruined decades of build up for the Inhumans. Their choice in Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee was spot on though. The two sync up the art and story perfectly, staying loyal to the huge history that lays behind the Inhumans while still shedding a new light on who they are as a people.

One of the biggest draws is that the protagonist, Black Bolt, is unable to speak so the entire time you are left wondering what his plan really is, and the end is orchestrated perfectly.

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