Saturday, August 5, 2017

Inhumanity - The Reason Why!

Fantastic Four Annual #5 is rather an oddity for a simple reason -- there's precious little Fantastic Four in the comic. Instead this extra "King-Size" comic is used to feature the rather deep background cast which Kirby had been introducing into the series. The lead story is actually a team up of sorts between the Inhumans and the The Black Panther. These are the famous leaders of two hidden lands uncovered by the FF, explorers extraordinaire. Now these two forces combine to fight a new menace who erupts from the Microverse, yet a third unknown territory, in the form of the creepy looking Psycho Man. The Torch and the Thing are along for the ride and Mister Fantastic and Invisible Girl announce the impending birth of their new child, but that's about it for FF fans.

The Inhumans meantime take up residence in Kirby's other book, the one in which he exerts probably the most control, The Mighty Thor. Having ended the illustrious Tales of Asgard feature, Lee and Kirby cobble together new stories starring The Inhumans, revealing their origins. In the first tale we meet Randac, the first Inhuman leader to face the Terrigen Mist. We also learn that the Inhumans became much more advanced than other societies on the planet.

In the next installment we learn the reason why. And it involves the Kree introduced in the pages of the Fantastic Four only a few months before. We discover that the Inhumans are in fact a Kree breeding experiment and that Sentry #459 is tasked with overseeing the development of the experiment. Whether this was planned all along or just an inspired connection is unknown to me, but it's a key detail in the Marvel Universe which gives a focus to events which had been heretofore somewhat random.

We jump ahead in time to near past and the rise of Black Bolt. It's a glimpse into the mind of the silent Inhuman leader and gives us an idea of the burden he lives with and has done since his brith.

In the next installment we meet many of the other Royal Family members, all looking much younger and naive to the troubles which are in their future. The turmoil of their exile is unknown to these boon companions who are full of hope as the saga of the Inhumans begins in full.

The Inhuman saga was just starting, not at all unlike the origin stories which were rolling out in the pages of X-Men at about this same time. And like that series this one is doomed to be cut off before it can complete its mission. But not before we get a story about arguably the most singular Inhuman - the aquatic Triton takes the spotlight next time.

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  1. Jack's Inhumans tales were reprinted in a British weekly comic called 'The Titans' in the mid-'70s (around the time he was returning to Marvel), but I found the dialogue too stilted, and Jack's artwork was starting to look a bit too cartoony for my tastes. However, as you suggest, he probably needed more than a mere 10 pages to let rip, so to speak. Personally, I never felt that The Inhumans were A-listers, more supporting characters, but some people will no doubt consider me a heretic for saying that.

    1. I didn't grok the Inhumans for a very long time, and thought the attempts to make them go as a series were a waste of time. I except Triton from that assessment. But not unlike Ben Grimm, my appreciation of them has grown over the years.

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    2. I remember finding the Inhumans (from the post-Kirby era) almost alluring as a kid. I remember reading other kid's comics and wondering about them, especially Blackbolt, the mute with unimaginable power. But by the time I was collecting, they were nowhere to be found on the stands. Actually, I don't think I've ever read more than a sporadic issue here and there (outside their appearances in the FF, of course).


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