Steve McNiven – Uncanny Inhumans #1

The Inhumans are back, and it’s with a great pleasure that we find Charles Soule as the writer again. He did an amazing job on the first Inhuman series (2014-2015) with Joe Madureira (Inhuman #1-3) and Ryan Stegman (Inhuman #4-12) that there is no doubt he will continue doing so with the great Canadian artist Steve McNiven (1967 -). Besides, the both of them already worked together on the Death of Wolverines (2014). Beside Uncanny Inhumans, Charles Soule is also the writer of All New Inhumans – an other Inhuman title – and Daredevil. I like the fact that the same author will be in charge of the two Inhuman series, but why Daredevil ?

Steve McNiven has been working for Marvel for many years. He drew the seven issues of Civil War (2006-2007) and produced fantastic drawings on Old Man Logan (2008-2009). He was associated with the author Mark Millar for both these series. Furthermore, he also drew some covers for Secret Invasion (2008) and for Wolverine (2014).

Searching for his son Ahura – despite his promise to Kang – Black Bolt reunited around him a little team composed of Triton, Reader and himself. Thanks to Reader’s powers, the trio went back in time, thirteen thousand years ago to be precise, in Attilan. This is the place where the master geneticist Randac – and first ruler of the Inhumans – experienced on terrigen mist to reveal the Inhumans’ powers. The city of Attilan is a fantastic one : the contrast between this civilisation, thousands of years in advanced technologically, and the flying pterodactyl, is impressive. It allows us to think about our own species at that age. We were Cro-magnon back then, while the Inhumans were already building towers and generators. This panorama introduces the main characters and what we might think will be their first adventure.

Steve McNiven - Uncanny Inhumans #1 p.2-3
Steve McNiven – Uncanny Inhumans #1 p.2-3 © Steve McNiven / Marvel

But their journey into this specific age is quickly counteracted by Kang, even before they could enter in the city. Kang, the great manipulator of time, transported them in 1916 in the middle of the Arctic ocean, before launching on them dinosaurs and british soldiers from the XXe century. Kang’s head floating above the ground, certain of his victory. He’s like a general who watch the battles from his headquarter, safely. I love how this layout is designed : a double-page spread with three large tiers and on top, two panels on the same tier. The composition of the two last tier in particular is amazing : Kang’s head belongs to the first one, but appears mostly on the last tier. Step by step, we are getting closer to the Inhumans, the dinosaurs and the british soldiers. The reversal in perspective of these two tiers, with the shot reverse-shot, enhanced the emergency feeling for Black Bolt and his teammates. The new costumes Steve McNiven designed for Black Bolt and Triton are a sign of this series’ orientation : they are more suitable for battles. Black Bolt’s suit in particular looks more like an armor, almost like a bat-suit.

Steve McNiven - Uncanny Inhumans #1 p.6-7
Steve McNiven – Uncanny Inhumans #1 p.6-7 © Steve McNiven / Marvel

On this first Uncanny Inhumans‘ issues appears Beast, a prominent member of the X-Men and one of the original fives. What is he doing in the Inhuman’s camp, whereas he should be at the Jean Grey School working for a cure against the T-mist disease? Apparently he’s working on this but in New Attilan’s labs, helped by the NuHuman Iso (who appeared in Inhuman). I’m found of how Steve McNiven drew Beast’ fur on his face : everything is very precise, every hair on his beard is detailed. What a meticulous work! The presence of Beast in the capital of the Inhumans shows that, despite the T-mist poison, some mutants are willing to work with the Inhumans. Therefore Beast demonstrates a breadth of mind that I’m sure most of the mutants don’t.

Steve McNiven - Uncanny Inhumans #1 p.11
Steve McNiven – Uncanny Inhumans #1 p.11 © Steve McNiven / Marvel

Beast isn’t the only character who’s not related to the Inhumans, and yet is on the cover. The Human Torch, aka Johnny Storm, is too. But Johnny is a member of the Unity Squad, as we discovered in Uncanny Avengers #1, so what is he doing in Uncanny Inhumans ? Turns out, Johnny and Medusa are dating. This page, with its four rectangular panels regularly disposed, is a magnificent one : I don’t know if it is because of Johnny’s fire, or Medusa’s hair, but passion transpires from it. As the two lovers are getting closer, Johnny’s fire disappearing  while Medusa’s hair is enfolding him. Unfortunately, their kiss is being spied by a flying man, who proves to be Black Bolt in the flesh. Even if Medusa and him are separated, they are still married, and I don’t think he will appreciate the fact that she has a lover. The disposition of the two bottom panels reminds me of the movies, where the star-crossed lovers are kissing in front of a window, behind which stands the woman’s husband or father. We can even hear the dramatic music playing as Black Bolt appears from the sky.

Steve McNiven - Uncanny Inhumans #1 p.19
Steve McNiven – Uncanny Inhumans #1 p.19 © Steve McNiven / Marvel

This is a great first issue, with two different stories and two “teams” : on one side, Black Bolt is trying to get his son, Ahura, back from the hands of Kang ; on the other side, Medusa in Attilan is sheltering Beast, who’s trying to find a cure for the T-mist poison. If I liked the battle between Blackagar and the dinosaurs/british soldiers, with the wonderful drawings of Steve McNiven, I’m not very found of the passages with Beast. They were to thin in this issue where Charles Soule wanted to tell a lot of things. The last two pages are without a doubt among my favorites. Maybe for the first time, Blackagar understands what his fight with Medusa led to. They are no longer the rulers of Attilan, even less a couple. The former king has lost his son, will he lost his wife too ?

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