Marvel Television is set to bring the Inhumans, arguably the strangest heroes of the Marvel Universe, to IMAX screens this weekend. While this will be the Inhumans' live-action debut, the characters are nearly as old as the Marvel Universe themselves, with a rich library of comic book stories for fans new and old to indulge in.
The Inhumans are a creation of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and they first appeared in 1965 in Fantastic Four #45. The first few issues to feature the characters marked the beginning of what many consider to be the creative highlight of Lee and Kirby's long run on Fantastic Four.
The Inhumans have had an unusual publication history since then. Kirby had a particular fondness for the Inhumans, but his attempts to convince Marvel's publisher to launch an ongoing series were continually undermined. What Inhumans stories Kirby did get to tell were instead relegated to backup stories in books starring other Marvel Characters.
Because of this, the Inhumans haven't had the decades-long, continuous publishing history that so many of Marvel's other Silver Age breakouts had. In a way, that's contributed to their prestige and narrative weight. If the Inhumans could be bothered to leave their hidden city of Attilan to become involved with the goings on of the larger Marvel Universe, then that meant the story must be significant.
More recently, Marvel has begun taking a different approach. Over the past several years, Marvel has given the Inhumans their own ongoing series, launched solo series for characters like Black Bolt and Karnak, and introduced new Inhuman heroes like Ms. Marvel, Mosaic, and Moon Girl, perhaps in an attempt to increase the Inhumans' profile leading up to their live-action debut.
Now that the debut is imminent, fans looking for more Inhumans have plenty of comics to choose from. We've narrowed it down seven essential Inhumans stories, ranging from their origins to the modern era, that
Because the Inhumans didn't have a comic book to call their own in the 1960s, their earliest appearances can be hard to track down in collected form, and obtaining the original issues would be pricey.
Most if not all of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's Inhumans stories from Fantastic Four can be found on the Marvel Unlimited subscription service, as well the origin story told as a back-up story in issues of Thor, but those who prefer to read in print should hunt down the 2013 collection Inhumans: The Origin of the Inhumans.
This volume collects Lee and Kirby's Inhumans stories from both Fantastic Four and Thor, including the Fantastic Four's first meeting with the Inhumans, which put in place the dramatic family dynamics that have informed every Inhumans story since.
Most fans would agree that the Inhumans made their first steps into the modern era in the 1998 to 1999 Inhumans series published under the Marvel Knights banner, written by Paul Jenkins and drawn in the distinctive style of Jae Lee.
The series finds the Inhumans living in their secluded city of Attilan, which is now positioned on a risen island believed to have once been Atlantis. Jenkins and Lee begin by examining what living in a secluded culture based on evolutionary diversity might look like, and also take a hard look at the costs and flaws of that societal structure.
Mix in the traditional Inhumans family drama and geopolitics and it's easy to see why many still consider this series to be the Inhumans at their finest.
The Inhumans go cosmic in the long, epic, intergalactic crossover event from the mid-2000s.
War of Kings begins for the Inhumans when they travel to the planet of Hala, homeworld of the Kree race that created them, to claim rulership.
However, that's just the start. After taking control of Hala, the Inhuman's lead the Kree Empire into open warfare with the Shi'ar Empire which is currently being ruled by Vulcan, the incredibly powerful brother of the X-Men's Cyclops and Havok.
With the war spreading through the galaxy, Darkhawk, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and the Starjammers (now led by Havok and including several other mutants) also become involved in the conflict.
For readers looking for Inhumans by way of space opera, War of Kings is just the thing.
If War of Kings represented the Inhumans going cosmic, then Infinity represents the cosmic coming to the Inhumans.
The Inhumans are actually only one part of Marvel's Infinity event, which was built on writer Jonathan Hickman's run on Avengers and New Avengers, the latter of which featured Black Bolt as a member of the Illuminati.
However, the Inhumans are a vital part of the series, which begins with Thanos' search for his son. The search leads the Mad Titan to Earth and right to Attilan's front door.
Infinity ends with Black Bolt making a huge and drastic decision that alters the Inhumans' existence for the long run, beginning their push into the Marvel Universe's spotlight.
Inhuman and Uncanny Inhumans are placed together here on this list because they represent two parts of one long saga told by writer Charles Soule.
Uncanny Inhumans takes place eight months after the final issues of Inhuman (Marvel's Secret Wars event takes place in the interim). The series sees Black Bolt return to the fold and begins with a more traditionally super-heroic tone, but the Inhumans are eventually forced to deal with the fact that their new stability on Earth has come at the cost of the stability, and perhaps the very existence, of mutants.
The Inhumans vs. X-Men event, or IvX, brought Charles Soule's character-redefining run on Inhumans to a close, as well as marked the end of a dark era for the X-Men.
The Terrigen Cloud that had allowed the Inhumans to flourish on Earth had proven to be poisonous to mutants, as first discovered during the events of the Death of X miniseries.
The era of Uncanny Inhumans and the X-Men comics that were running around the same time established that tensions were running high between Inhumans and mutants, in a way that some would say made real-world tension among fans who felt the Inhumans were overshadowing the X-Men into in-universe canon.
IvX kicks off when Beast, who had been searching for a cure to the "M-Pox" while living in New Attilan, discovers that Earth will soon become entirely uninhabitable for mutants. The result is a war on a blockbuster-movie scale, and the conclusion is a decision made by Medusa that rivals the one made by Black Bolt in Infinity in terms of scope and consequence.
The game-changing events of IvX led to a new era for the Inhumans that launched as part of
With Charles Soule's departure, Al Ewing, who is one of Marvel's best and most creative writers, took over writing the Inhuman royal family in the new series simply titled Royals.
The series sees most of the royal family, including Medusa, leaving Earth and following Marvel Boy, a Kree superhero from another reality, on a quest for the origin of the Kree.
The future of the Inhuman species rests on the success of the royals' quest, and the series has already featured plenty of unexpected swerves, clever twists, and emotional character beats.