Part of Marvel Studios “Phase 3” film slate includes a 2018 film called The Inhumans. You’ve never heard of The Inhumans? That’s fine, you hadn’t heard of The Guardians of the Galaxy either. You probably hadn’t heard of Ultron for that matter either, but you’re all excited for him this summer. Fear not, for I am here to introduce them to you!
Created by the great Stan Lee and Jack Kirby during their legendary Fantastic Four run, these characters first appeared during 1965. Issue 36 intrudes us to the first member of their group. Her name is Madame Medusa and she has long, red, prehensile hair. Recruited into The Wizards “Frightful Four”, her main purpose is to be the woman of the team and rival the power of the Invisible Girl. Initially, she seems useless and is not an interesting character. All she does in the first couple issues is use her hair to hold people. She makes a few appearances (issues 36, 38, 41-43) alongside this team, but the whole thing is mostly focused on the other members of the team, The Wizard, Paste Pot Pete/The Trapster, and Sandman. The group actually fairs well against the Fantastic Four and beats them early on. They could have killed them all at any point if it wasn’t for infighting and their bumbling around. Towards the end of these issues Medusa has some interesting scenes, she puts out the Human Torch’s flame but soaking her hair, and she makes a scatters Sandman around by turning her hair into a fan. She also comes into her character more and poses as a threat to the wizards leadership. At the end of issue 43, the grand scheme of The Wizard has been foiled and the FF the Frightful Four are sent to prison. However, before this happens Medusa escapes.
Issue 44 finally starts to lay down the groundwork for the appearance of the Inhumans as a group. We meet up again with Madame Medusa as she is on the run from a man named Gorgon. And yes, he is an Inhuman. He puts up a fight against the Fantastic Four and shows off his incredible kicking and stomping powers. Just by tapping a wall with his one hoof (he’s got hooves) it crumbles onto the Human Torch. Later, he stomps and knocks down a conveniently abandoned city block.
Issue 45 is where we meet the rest of the main group. However, we don’t get to know very much about them. The Human Torch meets a girl who fears him and uses her powers to throw bricks and cinderblocks and hide from him. When he reveals that he also has powers she says that her name is Crystal asks if he is like her. he says yes just because he figures its what she wants to hear. This leads her to believe that he is safe to bring home to their secret home. I would think it slightly creepy that she lets her into her home because he looks nice and says what she wants to here, but that happens everyday in the real world. Also, she can probably feel safe because she has a giant teleporting guard dog named Lockjaw that could destroy anyone who laid a finger on her.
Inside Crystal’s home we meet the two more members of the Inhumans:
Karnak, a man whose power is being socially awkward. When introduced to Johnny he doesn’t even say “Hi”, he says “grasp my hand and you will see why no one takes liberties with Karnak” then throws Johnny over his shoulder. He also can detect weakness in anything.
Triton, a man who has green scaly skin and is shroud in both cloth and mysteriousness. (He’s a fish man)
Karnak and Triton know that The Human Torch lied to Crystal about being one of them and they throw in him into prison. He easily escapes. When he returns later with the full FF there is one final member, their silent leader Black Bolt….
That is where the issue and 1965 end.
It is revealed later that Black Bolt is the King of the Inhumans, Medusa is his queen and that this is the royal family. The Inhumans become close allies with The Fantastic Four in later issues. Black Bolt is unable to speak because his voice is so powerful it can destroy mountains with a whisper. The Inhumans are an offset of humanity that was experimented on by the Kree. (Remember Ronin the Accuser from Guardians of the Galaxy? He’s Kree) Similar to mutants, they get random powers when they reach a certain age, but instead of automatically, Inhumans must enter a chamber that releases sacred mists.
One of the first 2 comics I ever bought, way back on ’02, was an issue of Fantastic Four that featured the Inhumans, so I have been a fan of theirs since I got into comics. If they are heavily featured in a book, I’ll usually buy it. Over the years they have had a very complicated history, and there have been a lot of changes, so it will be interesting to see which version ends up on the big screen.
I’ve been reading from Inhumans: Origin of the Inhumans TPB. Some other seminal stories include
- Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee’s Eisner winning series Inhumans,
- Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s space opera War of Kings, and
- Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four / FF run
Next week i’ll be looking at 1966 and looking at Star Trek, The Fantastic Voyage, and a couple more early Marvel introductions! Thanks for reading!
Image from PREVIEWSworld