Last week fans of the Marvel Universe were stunned to learn that the Inhumans would be adapted for television. The characters had originally been planned to appear in theaters as part of Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now they will be coming to the small screen in summer of 2017 with 8 episodes in their first season, including 2 that will be screened in IMAX theaters.
For some unfamiliar with who the Inhumans are, this may seem like a downgrade. However, for those familiar with their origins or recent strides in comics and television, it’s clearly anything but that. The Inhumans were introduced in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and it makes sense for their story to be continued alongside that show, even if the royal family still hasn’t been revealed. Furthermore, the Inhumans as a sprawling culture and set of characters make much more sense as a television series than a film franchise. They need the extra time and space of TV, even if it comes with some budgetary constraints.
If you’re still skeptical about why the Inhumans will make for a killer television series, keep reading. There’s more than 50 years of comics that show why we should all be getting hyped for 2017 and the coming of the Inhumans.
Kirby and Lee
The Inhumans first appeared in the pages of Fantastic Four #45, created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee at the start of their most prolific period on this renowned series. In the course of the next year, they would also create characters like Galactus, Silver Surfer, and Black Panther. It was a time in which this duo was at their absolute best together and the Inhumans are a perfect reflection of that. Each member of the royal family, the set of Inhumans that rule the rest in their capitol of Attilan, is a unique creation. Their powers and appearances make them unforgettable, designed to be as bold and interesting as anything else in Kirby’s repertoire. Those designs are presents in their personalities as well, leading to plenty of conflicts even within their own family that Lee happily played up.
From their debut, this family would remain a constant sub-plot within the pages of Fantastic Four until Kirby and Lee finally parted ways after more than 100 issues together. Their rivalries, romances, and recreation played second fiddle only to that of the titular characters. Something as simple as an argument between Karnak and Gorgon could fill pages with panel-busting action. This core set of characters were clearly a fascinating lot, and so was the mythology that made them royalty. Kirby and Lee’s conception of transformative Terrigen Mists that took seemingly ordinary humans and gave them strange, new appearances provided an idea that was both thematically and visually fascinating.
Finding a Home
Like many of Kirby and Lee’s creations from this period of Fantastic Four, the Inhumans would remain a fixture in the Marvel universe in the decades to come. Yet they would never rise above the role of supporting characters. Between 1977 and 2004 they received four different series, but none of them ever ran more than 12 issues. This wasn’t due to a lack of quality either. Of particular note is the 1998 mini-series written by Paul Jenkins and drawn by Jae Lee. It was a truly stunning story that infused the bold Kirby designs with Lee’s otherworldly inks. Despite their lack of a central role in the Marvel universe, this royal family continued to call out to prominent creators as an untapped resource within this rich universe.
Marvel architects like Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathan Hickman utilized them to great effect in a series of events. Black Bolt featured prominently in both World War Hulk and Secret Invasion as a member of Marvel’s Illuminati, a secretive group of the most influential, superpowered leaders on Earth. Then in Hickman’s impressive run on Avengers, the entire Inhuman race became a centerpiece to his first event Infinity. It was here that the Terrigen Mists which transform those possessing Inhuman DNA into their evolved forms would be released to spread across the Earth. It is this change that finally brought the Inhumans centerstage for Marvel Comics.
Return to the Spotlight
The release of the Terrigen Mists led to two major transformations within the Marvel Universe. First, it placed the Inhumans as an important element within almost all of the publisher’s most prominent stories. These changes affected the Avengers as new superpowered individuals rose up and the X-Men due to the Mists poisonous effects on those with the X-gene. It also meant the Inhumans could no longer hide and led to them settling right outside of New York City. These stories have been told in a new line of Inhumans comics, including All-New Inhumans, The Uncanny Inhumans, and Karnak. These new stories of the royal family and various novices have been compared to the X-Men line and live up to the standards of that beloved franchise.
Just like the X-Men, the Inhumans expansion has led to some breakout stars and two of our favorite new heroes of the past decade: Ms. Marvel and Moon Girl. Ms. Marvel’s impact on superhero comics is undeniable. The sales of her series, its critical acclaim, and mainstream recognition has established her as a lasting force in the Marvel Universe. She has already been an Avenger and a Champion, but started as an Inhuman. It was the Terrigen Mists rolling through Jersey City that gave her powers, and the Inhumans have regularly featured in the pages of her own series. Lunella Lafayette’s adventures in Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur have been driven by her own genetics and fear of the Terrigen Mists, leading to some very endearing and bizarre tales. Both are series that stem from the Inhumans franchise, and any chance of seeing them brought to television as well is incredibly exciting.
The Terrigen Horizon
Both the new adventures of the Inhuman royal family and the creation of new characters like Ms. Marvel and Moon Girl have shown just how much potential lies in the Inhuman concept. It’s something that Jack Kirby knew 50 years ago when he filled Fantastic Four and Journey Into Mystery with their ongoing tales. Now it’s something we’ve all been successfully reminded of.
The Inhumans are a group with their own rich history and culture combined with a set of superpowers so diverse and fascinating that the stories they can tell seem endless. Whether it’s the struggles between Black Bolt and his brother Maximus the Mad or new tales of teenagers with inexplicable gifts, the Inhumans are bound to keep us coming back for more. Both in comics and on TV, we’re ready to see a lot more of this odd extension of humanity.