Written by El Ewing
Penciler: Thony Silvas (Present and Future Panels) Will Robson (Past Panels)
Colorist: Jim Charalampidis
The Inhumans travel into deep space only to find someone they thought they left behind. Disguised as the estranged former king, Maximus the Mad, Blackbolt’s unbalanced brother has arrived and reveals truth is always about perspective.
What you need to know: In the wake of Inhumans vs. X-Men, (IVX) the terrigen cloud, the source in which individuals with the latent Inhuman DNA imbued by Kree engineering during the Upper Paleolithic (or Late Stone Age,) is causing serious hostility between two of Marvel’s strongest teams. With terrigen being the sole catalyst in which a normal human undergoes terrigenesis and develops superhuman powers during their evolution into a meta-human, there is one serious drawback. Anyone with an active or latent x-gene subjected to the mists develops the deadly M-Pox which is almost always lethal. Mutants are on the brink of extinction and all-out war breaks between the two factions. In the end, after all attempts to find a means in which mutants are spared the effects of the cloud have failed and conceding that allowing the terrigen to remain on earth will cause mass genocide, Queen Medusa, leader of the Inhumans, destroys the sacred cloud and in the same instant exchanges the fate of her own race with that of the mutants. With terrigen gone, there will be no new Inhumans and the race will die within a few generations. Heavy is the crown. The lonely queen facing the failure of her reign abdicates her rule. With the arrival of the Kree warrior Marvel Boy, Medusa, Blackbolt, Swain, Crystal, Gorgon, and Flint board a starship and depart each seeking the final hope in which to save the Inhuman race and begin the Journey to Hala, the Kree home world in a vain attempt at salvation.
What you’ll find out: Issue #3 opens revealing that Medusa’s suspicions that something is very wrong with Blackbolt were correct. Much to her chagrin, she learns that Maximus, her brother in-law has managed to masquerade as the exiled king and has stowed away upon the star craft and until now has evaded detection. Subsequently with Maximus’s use of his new power which granted him the ability to swap with Blackbolt physically, Medusa realizes that her husband is now exiled in a location in which he cannot receive aid as Maximus’s penalty was to be stricken from all memories in name, past deeds, and existence. As the “Unspoken One,” this includes the location of his confinement. The displaced king is on his own and the Madman is free. Medusa’s loyalists are eager to exterminate the traitor, but stay their hand at her command for reasons unrevealed. Despite the uproar, Maximus tumbles through memories of the past and a strange calling from the future as we come to learn that the man who played a hand in a vast majority of almost all of the near downfalls to the Inhuman existence ironically it’s the sole survivor within the dark future. It appears the former queen and the rejected prince share knowledge in which she needs the traitor alive and Maximus knows it. Onward to Hala!
What just happened? This issue surpassed all expectations and is a truly ingenious method of revisiting Inhuman history by delivering a new perspective on the culmination of events that produced the central figures and lore. Rather than subject readers to another reviled retcon, Ewing wisely embarks on a different approach in which Maximus narrates the history of the Inhumans, the Boltagon parents, and the shocking secret he has kept for a lifetime, are told through his lens. This gives the readers a second chance to draw their own conclusions on past events as opposed to being told that everything they have known up until this point is no longer to be considered cannon.
Issue #3 is executed with deliberate forethought which sets the stage for upcoming issues. Ewing’s expert hand weaves numerous plots together that fashion what has become a fascinating story, and one in which I believe will be sited by fans in the years to come, that these events apart of the larger cornerstone were a major turning point for the Inhumans and the franchise overall.
We have been told from the beginning that of the seven who will venture into space on the holy journey, six will return. Though Medusa (who despite ailing from some mysterious condition which has resulted in a most welcome change in hairstyle and a fabulous bob,) is told she is “dying of metaphor,” a direct result of her declining kingdom, perceived failures, and self-doubt. But I don’t think she should be automatically discarded just yet. If the first three issues have shown us anything at all it is that there are far more twists and turns ahead that will almost certainly have lasting impact on the ever-evolving fate of the Inhumans.
Regarding art, the eclectic myriad combining the styles of both Thony Silvas on present and future scenes are some of the best pencils employed by Marvel, which desperately needs his level of talent. Combined with the playful flair of Will Robson during flashback scenes, the art works much to my surprise and compliments the clear distinctions between past, present, and future tense. Normally the more flamboyant style of art as depicted by Robson isn’t my preference. However, because the designs of Rhynda and Agon are from a generation of lighter chronicles, the assignment of Robson to depict that bygone era was a smart choice and gives the reader a sense of context.
The Inhumans have been at war for a long time, most notably with the consumer. But at a time when the Avengers are challenging the loyalty of readers to indulge them through Secret Empires and X-Men relaunches that promise much, the creative team behind the Royals seems to have learned from past mistakes. Instead of relying on heavy crossovers and piggybacking on already established books, it was clear that Marvel misfired by pitting a reader you are trying to woo against characters and teams in which relationships were formed and emotions were committed.
If new comic fans would give Royals, the Inhuman franchise’s newest incarnation a chance, they might find a welcome change in which the reader is truly exposed to a new journey and the chance to say they there for the ride.
Final thought: Don’t worry, we won’t tell the Emma Frost you’re reading an Inhuman book.