Marvel Masterworks The Inhumans Vol. One

This is a review of Marvel Masterworks Inhumans Volume One, a graphic novel featuring great art by Jack Kirby, Neal Adams, and Gene Colan. FYI, The Inhumans are a group of human beings genetically modified by the alien Kree. When mankind was still in diapers, the Inhumans lived in great cities.

Let’s get this straight. The Inhumans aren’t mutants. Inhumans are genetically modified by the fabled Terrigen mists. They aren’t mutants. I don’t believe the Inhumans are even on earth, anymore, but am not sure. When the Inhumans TV series was cancelled, the Marvel powers-that-be went back to not caring about them. In the Marvel cinematic universe – the only universe that matters – the most famous Inhuman of all, Kamala Khan, is a mutant.

 The Inhumans made their first appearance in the Fantastic Four, and made cameos in that series on and off for years. None of the Fantastic Four issues are reprinted here, not even the first appearance. Instead we have a bunch of back-up stories which makes it hard to get any sense of the characters.

Jack Kirby did a few of these stories. They’re okay. His Inhumans make grand proclamations, explain their powers, and sing hosannas to their leader, the Wondrous Black Bolt. Mr. Bolt cannot speak, because to do so would destroy a city. He’s got Nuclear Mouth, that Black Bolt.

After Kirby’s departure, The Inhumans jump the shark. Here’s a short summary: Black Bolt flies into the world of humans (San Francisco) to learn more about them. Since the Inhumans have lived in wondrous cities since men huddled in caves, you’d think they’d have television, or be able to reverse engineer a television. But no.

Black Bolt leaves his brother Maximus the Mad locked in an enormous iron coffin. The other Inhumans, suspicious that Bolt has killed Maximus the Mad, open the coffin. The Mad One breaks out wielding psychic powers and gives Black Bolt total amnesia. This happens right after Black Bolt changes clothes with a thug he knocked out in an alleyway in San Francisco.

Stay with me, here. Black Bolt is picked up by a man who has lost his hand to cancer and wants Bolt to destroy San Francisco, because reasons. Then Magneto kidnaps Black Bolt, because reasons. This isn’t the noble, silver fox Magneto we’ve all come to love; this is the psychotic, sneering Magneto who sinks nuclear submarines and looks like he enjoys eating boogers.

There’s more, involving the Avengers, but I won’t go into it. Suffice it to say that at no point during these issues – which I painstakingly read for YOUR benefit – do the Inhumans show any agency at all. The art is wonderful, but the story just isn’t very good. The last couple of issues are from Not Brand Ecch, Marvel’s humor magazine. Unfortunately, the writer can’t write humor.

Bottom line: I spent $1.99 for this graphic novel, so it’s all good, but don’t spend more than that unless you are an Inhumans fanatic.