Inhumans: Once & Future Kings #1 (Marvel)


Rating: 4.5/5 – Great Backstory for the Inhumans Royal Family
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall

The Inhumans are getting a lot of press lately, Marvel is pushing them in the comics with a lot of new series and mini-series and on TV with their own show debuting at the end of September.  It seems as though Marvel wants them to be the “new X-Men” who are not optioned to Fox.  All that aside, the attention is a good thing if we get some good comics out of it and I certainly think this new series by writer Christoper Priest with art by Phil Noto is a very good tale recounting the early years (late teens?) of Black Bolt, Maximus, and Medusa.

I cannot claim to have read every comic featuring the Inhumans, in fact I’ve been kind of actively avoiding them lately.  But when I flipped through this one on the rack at my Local Comic Shop the Phil Noto artwork lept off the page at me.  No great surprise, he is one of my favorite artists and his style is very distinctive.  He does a great job portraying the future leaders of the Inhumans as young adults.  They don’t look like adults, they don’t look like children.  Their faces, body language, and scale to adult characters all look appropriate to the age they are supposed to be.  The writing is very “Priest-like”.  By this I mean I was flipping through the book without having explicitly noted the creator names.  Noto’s art was identifiable at a glance, but I usually need to do more reading to note a writer’s particular style… Except every scene as I flipped through the book had a “title card”, like: “In Memorium” Alpha Primitive Barracks.   This is something Priest does in most (all?) of his writing and it got me to flip back to the credits to confirm his name.

Priest and Noto keep the story moving throughout the issue introducing characters and plot points in an even flow from the beginning to the end of the issue.  Priest seems to have a really good grasp of the characters “voices” (even the typically silent Black Bolt).  These are characters I have “known” for many decades and they felt right to me.  We’re even treated to a whimsical 2 page backup story featuring Lockjaw and Ben Grimm by Ryan North and Gustavo Duarte.  This issue was a winner for me.

There is seemingly a minor continuity conflict with Lockjaw, the giant teleporting dog who is a fan favorite.  The conflict is between Once & Future Kings #1 and Black Bolt #5, both of which shipped to stores on September 6th and both edited by Wil Moss.  In this comic, Lockjaw is shown to be a puppy (albeit a very large one) when Black Bolt & company are in their late teens.  In Black Bolt #5 a much larger Lockjaw is seen to be watching over an infant Black Bolt. Maybe there are multiple teleporting dogs that are all named Lockjaw; as each one passes on into dog heaven he is perhaps replaced with a cloned replacement of the same name.  This might be hinted at by them mentioning Lockjaw is an “experiment” in Black Bolt #5.  If there is only one Lockjaw, then the 2 issues contradict one another and it is something that the editor should have had fixed.

Inhumans: Once & Future Kings #1 gets a big thumbs up from me.   Priest sets up some nasty politics and court intrigue surrounding Black Bolt & Maximus’s Father (not the nicest guy) and the obligatory evil court advisor, as well as budding revolution and a moral conflict surrounding the Alpha Primitives.  A lot of story packed into a first issue that did its job in selling me on this series that I had previously passed over.  That makes it a 100% successful 1st issue for me and a series that I look forward to reading more of.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
)   By Fans who Love Comics for Fans who Love Comics

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