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Inhumanity #1 is a Disappointing Start to Marvel’s Latest Event

Inhumanity #1 is a Disappointing Start to Marvel’s Latest Event

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Writer: Matt Fraction
Penciller: Olivier Coipel
Inker: Mark Morales
Colorist: Laura Martin
Publisher: Marvel Comics

On paper, Inhumanity seems like it could be a cool book or event. There are sci-fi elements (futuristic machines and medicines), political intrigue (who will succeed Black Bolt as leader of the Inhumans), and even some superheroics (the cool Inhuman transformations, guest appearances by Avengers). It even was written by Matt Fraction, whose comic Sex Criminals was voted the best comic of the year by Time.com. But the humor and nuanced characterization that permeates Sex Criminals is absent from Inhumanity #1. In its place is clunky exposition and clashing art styles. The text heavy and (often) tiny panels allow Olivier Coipel and flashback artists Dustin Weaver and Leinil Yu little room to illustrate the past and present of the Inhumans. The first page is gorgeous, but it mainly goes downhill from there.

Inhumanity #1’s biggest weakness is its storytelling. The majority of comic is Karnak “filling in” the Avengers about the “secret history” of the Inhumans. Fraction manages to stick almost a story arc’s worth of back-story into a single issue. (That was probably an exaggeration.) And much of the material that Karnak discusses has been covered in Infinity or New Avengers. The rehashing of this information seems like an attempt to attract new readers, but Fraction doesn’t provide any emotional hooks to connect them with the Inhumans. However, he does do a good job writing Hawkeye as a reader surrogate to the weird world of the Inhumans and gives him some funny lines. It is just that this world isn’t compelling enough as say the X-Men’s. Even a few plot twists seem underwhelming because the Inhumans seem like subjects in a history book, not flesh and blood characters. The former Inhuman queen Medusa gets a bit of development near the end of the issue, but this doesn’t salvage a comic that is driven by exposition, not plot or characters.

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Inhumanity #1 has fairly decent art. Olivier Coipel’s transition from an all black page to the fiery destruction of Attilan is a singularly beautiful image. Laura Martin captures the dark secrets and unpredictable nature of the Inhumans and the process of terrigenesis with her chaotic mixtures of colors. When she uses a uniform panel, it is for dramatic effect, like a close-up of Black Bolt. She is the standout creator on this book. However, there are a few problems with Coipel’s art. His figures seem unfinished despite inking from Mark Morales. Their lack of detail may be another reason why this comic fails to connect emotionally. Also, Fraction’s exposition heavy script forces Coipel and the other artists to squeeze their images into skinny rectangular or square panels.

The ideas behind Inhumanity are solid, but the execution is lacking. The new Inhumans popping up all around the world are barely mentioned, and there is a big plot hole involving the Illuminati from New Avengers. Most of Inhumanity #1 felt like a Karnak solo book where his ability to sense weak points being used as a plot device to move the entire story. The art from Coipel was average, and there was a dearth of plot progression or character moments. Even with a strong final few pages, Inhumanity #1 is a poor and slow start to Marvel’s latest event.

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