Inhumans by Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee (graphic novel review)

With the hint that Marvel’s ‘The Inhumans’ are being considered for the cinema despite only having two graphic novels and one collection of their early stories out there as far as I can see, I thought I would take a look at this hardback combining the 12 part 2013 mini-series. After all, something must have triggered the thought than choose more well known characters.


This story isn’t quite the same Inhumans as originally created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby back in the mid-60s which began life in the pages of ‘The Fantastic Four’. It’s obvious from the cover that Karnak is different here having face tattoos instead of a mask and older. As indeed is his brother, Triton, who looks a lot uglier now than then. Gorgon, too, has been roughed up a bit. I can never understand why when characters are given hooves that writers think drunken satyrs and work out of that cliché accordingly. The enigmatic but powerful Black Bolt is still pretty much the same, right down to his costume although despite not being able to speak without causing untold damage, you would have thought he would have found ways to write things down or even wear a gag when he goes to bed or give himself some sort of way of communicating to others than depend on his wife, Medusa, or here through Karnak. The final member of the royal family, Crystal, is little changed but also isn’t seen much. Lockjaw, their dog, is still there but no explanation as to why he undertook the Terrigen Mists that all of this 4000 population off-shoot of the kingdom of Attlian inhale to transform themselves in super-powered freaky looking or just powerful people as a rite of passage into being part of their society. Black Bolt’s brother, Maximus, sometimes called mad, is as psychotic as ever and imprisoned but he has a plan and being manipulative as ever.

Currently, Attilan is now resting on the raised island of Atlantis, protected by several barriers to prevent Earth’s atmosphere breaking in and poisoning the population. There is a human military force just waiting to attack and the United Nations unable to supply political support because the Inhumans are so secretive. None of this is helped because one fact is known that the Alpha Primitivess there are seen as slave labour which is frowned upon. When Maximus supplies information to this army amongst other things, including holding Medusa hostage, Black Bolt’s strategy is to do nothing but wait much to the distress of the other members of the royal family. To say too much would mean Black Bolt having a quiet word if he chose to.

To say this is a complex story is putting it mildly. Other than brief appearances of Reed Richards and Namor, there is little interaction with the outside world and one could practically read this incarnation of the Inhumans without knowing too much about the current state of the Marvel Universe.

At the back of the book, there are some preliminary sketches and page designs by Jae Lee and some script pages from Paul Jenkins, which if you compare to the final pages do have some radical changes although whether this is caused by Jae Lee or the editors isn’t revealed.

Does it give any clue as to why the Inhumans are being considering for the cinema screen? No. Well, maybe. The fact that they can be seen with needing cross-overs with other characters, as witnessed by ‘The Guardians Of The Galaxy’ film could be seen as a contributing factor although it will be interesting to see if they can resist giving Black Bolt any verbal dialogue. Quite where the story itself will go could follow similar trends of Black Bolt having to deal with his brother Maximus although it would need more than that for a sequel.

In the meantime, you have this book and a society where being super-human is considered the norm and a slow birth rate ensures a somewhat stable population. If they do hit the cinema screen, then I’m sure this book won’t be gathering dust.

GF Willmetts

December 2014

(pub: Marvel. 304 Page graphic novel hardback. Price: varies (UK). ISBN: 978-0-7851-8474-4)

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Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

One thought on “Inhumans by Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee (graphic novel review)

  • I’d like a collection of the original Inhuman stories that appeared in the back of Thor and the ten pagers Kirby wrote and drew (for Tales to Astonish?) shortly before he left Marvel. The collection you mention seems to be mostly FF stories, which I have anyway. However, if the powers ARE planning a film we might have an Essential volume soon. Here’s hoping.


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