I am saying this to you as a person who is an OG Thug-Geek For Life. (That’s a thing, right?) The old school geek who went to cons when an attendance of 5,00 to 10,000 seemed like a huge number. I’m the geek who collected Incredible Hulk and X-Men obsessively – a geek whose been collecting comics since 1969. I’m the generation that has been waiting for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to happen since the first rumors of an X-Men movie made it’s way to comic shops and fanzines way back in 1985. So I don’t say this lightly. Marvel, the Inhumans will never be a thing.
I understand why you are trying to make them a thing, really I do. Let’s tell the truth, this isn’t the first time you’ve tried to make them a thing. However, your reasons this time seems a little childish. You’re having what feels like a silly reaction to not getting the licenses back to certain properties. This is “giant neon letters plastered across the night sky” obvious that you’re trying to replace the X-Men with the Inhumans in your movies and your comics. Lucky for us it has not reached the movies. . .yet. You think the cult success of the new Ms. Marvel and the excitement over Civil War II must mean that the Inhumans are a shoe-in, Yet you’re ignoring their failure as as lead characters in comics or as a plot deus ex machina in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The sales on your latest Inhuman comics suck. All New Inhumans #9 did not even crack the top 125 of July 2016 sales and Uncanny Inhumans didn’t sell enough copies to make the Top 300 Actual of ICv2. These are not bad books but they are Inhumans and there’s good reasons why they aren’t doing that well.
Who the Hell Are the Inhumans, anyway?
Borrowing a catch-phrase from one of my favorite YouTuber, Moviebob, Comics are Weird! Okay, let’s try to make this as easy as possible. In Fantastic Four #36 the first family took on a group of villains called the Frightful Four whose members had names like Wizard (mad scientist type, can hypnotize people, gets beat a lot), Paste Pot Pete (no, I’m not kidding, he shot sticky paste from big guns. I know but it was the 60’s), Sandman (the Spider-Man villain) and a woman named Medusa. Medusa has a mass of long red indestructible hair she could use like tentacles to tie you up or throw you around. (I know, a keeper, right?) The FF beat these guys easily, end of done-in-one. In issue #45 the Human Torch encounters this generic redhead babe named Crystal who turned out to have powers over the four elements. During the encounter Crystal’s family enters the scene, one of whom happened to be Medusa. Johnny Storm recognizes Medusa as one of the Frightful Four and calls in the troops. This was the first real introduction to the actual Inhumans.
After the typical battle over misunderstanding thing it’s explained that Medusa had amnesia when she was part of the Frightful Four but regained her memory and was always an Inhuman. It was further explained that the Inhumans are a secret race of super beings who lived in this hidden city called Attalan located in different places on Earth depending on what an Inhuman’s story called for. Much later in Fantastic Four #240 writer turned internet blogging nut-job. John Bryne. would explained that Attilan was a city that doubled as a ship. How everyone on the planet misses an entire city that flies around the Earth has never really been explained. Just file that one under the “comics are weird” and don’t think about it. We geeks didn’t. The established Inhumans history was that this group of aliens called The Kree came to Earth and experimented on some white cave humans and that experiment resulted in the Inhumans. The Inhumans hid from humanity because. . .um. . .reasons? The main not-ready-for-anytime-players are the royal family made of of Black Bolt (whose actual name is – I kid you not – Blackagar Boltagon), Medusa, the queen and Black Bolt’s wife (until he blew up Attilan to stop Thanos from doing something), Karnak a guy who could find the weakness in anything, Gorgon, a goat legged dude who could create mini-earthquakes by stomping his goat feet, Trigon, a fish guy and Crystal, the Mary Jane Watson of the Inhumans.
That is the Inhmans who in a nutshell. There will be a test on it later.
X-Men vs Inhumans
The point of telling their convoluted origin story is to demonstrate the first reason why Inhumans will never be a thing – their origin/comic history is too convoluted. It’s not your fault, Marvel. Listen to any interview by Stan Lee and he said that they were just coming up with stuff and throwing it against the wall to see what stuck. Every early Marvel character or villain was created through this hardcore scientific process. So of course you end up with “Frightful Four” or “Paste-Pot Pete” or Inhumans.
The X-Men was created this Marvel way as well but their origin is simple: Some humans are born with a rare gene that gives them super powers mostly manifesting in their teens. However those powers can, more often than not, be dangerous. Mutants are not like super heroes who fall in a vat of Ajax chemicals or get anal probed with alien radiation or get bit by a radioactive bunny, after which they put on a costume and become cool as shit. A super-hero declares themselves, they want to be super-cops and help the little man from dire threats like Past-Pot Pete. A mutant, on the other hand, can be little Johnny from next door playing with your kids when suddenly his balls drop resulting in the creation of a volcano in your backyard that swallows up the neighborhood. A mutant could be little Susie who reacts to Biff the jock going for 2nd base by suddenly spitting face-hugger alien like acid in his eyes. (These are actual powers of actual Marvel mutants, by the way.) And there’s the whole they might replace humanity on the evolutionary food-chain thing, so humans are scared of them.
Spider-Man was just some guy in a weird costume who says funny things while pounding the shit out of weirder guys in weirder costumes. The Fantastic Four are essentially the Marvel version of the Kardasians, only with actual talent. Hulk was a big brain who fucked up an experiment. Even Ghost Rider – a demon from hell, which means there’s a hell, which means there’s God, so yeah. A mutant can be anyone, even your own child. The Inhumans are half or part space alien who live on the moon and they got this mist thingy that transforms them from human to super human because weird religion and the ones who come out with super powers get to be citizens while the ones who come out deformed but no super powers get to work in the sewers of Attilan keeping Attilan working and they have a royal family of the most powerful super people who don’t like other humans so they hide in their city the sometimes flies but the periodically sneak out to come among humans because. . .okay, I’m not clear on that part. No one is.
See how simple explaining the X-Men is compared to trying to explain Inhumans?
Not to mention mutants are metaphors for prejudice and racism as well as weapons of mass destruction. The X-Men are relatable metaphors where the Inhumans only rise to the level of Bigfoot or crop circles. Inhumans are great for a story arc, team-up or cameo but since no one ever gets exposed to a special mist that turned them into goat legged fish people Inhumans are simply hard to relate to. You can relate to Spider-Man: picked on teen who get special powers and decides to do the right thing after fucking up so royally it gets a family member killed. You can relate to the FF: famous family that does not always get along but comes together to fight the good fight. Even the Avengers: Super-human response team similar to S.W.A.T or the ATF – but with a big green guy and a dude with a magic hammer. X-Men? You become a teen, your body changes and the world around you reacts to who you are. Who does Black Bolt relate to? Or Medusa? Or Gorgon? See the problem? Crystal could have been somewhat relatable but for far too long sexism relegated her to Marilyn Munster status. She was the hot Inhuman who felt out of place because she was the hot Inhuman. It didn’t make sense in The Munsters either which is why it was no more than perpetual running gag.
Inhumans Fail on Their Own
I have seen many Inhuman comics by this point of my life. None of them were super sellers or so popular we discussed them in the comic shops or ever had key issues that gained any real status or value as years passed. There no notable amount of Inhuamns Cosplay coming to an Instagram post near you. War of Kings came close to being interesting. . .okay, passable, but it was the follow up to a much better story called Annihilation. Marvel was too chicken shit to keep the major changes they created with War of Kings and they ended up putting the Inhumans right back where they started a few years later. Only this time around they blew up Attalan because. . .um. . .reasons? The Fantastic Four #240 issue where the Inhumans moved Attilan to the “blue area of the moon” (don’t ask) was a kinda-sorta big deal. However, right after that the FF fought Doctor Doom in a character changing retcon so the Inhumans on the Moon thing got never made it to “key issue” status. I can point new readers to tons of X-Men or Hulk or Avengers stories that will get them up to speed on the characters easily and are pretty good despite the times they were written. I can think of one Inhuman story of any real interest and that’s their introduction in FF #45. Reading almost any of their stand alone series would make new readers ask a lot of questions that would take digging up too many scattered Inhuman appearances to answer. While comics are weird, Inhuman stories tended to be weirder. I know them because comics are soap operas at their core and I remember the time line of certain stories. (See: Major Geek Creds, Yo!) This is why their comics are not top sellers, they are just not a relatable group of characters. They’re too alien.
Agents of S.U.C.K.
Since Marvel’s first attempt to bring the Inhumans into the mainstream started with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. we have to go there. Once upon a time in comics Quake (Daisy or Sky) was the mutant daughter of a D-List villain called Mr. Hyde. Until this TV show Daisy was a mutant recruited by Nick Fury to be his enforcer. We were told who her daddy was and where she got her powers from and all was good. Then Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. happened, and Chloe Bennett happened and Marvel Comics tried to jam in the Inhumans down our throats by proxy. (Hey, it worked with Harley Quinn, right?) Oh yeah, and that fight between Kevin Feige and the TV dude happened. The story was not handled well in either season two or three, fans got bored and they reacted to the whole Inhumans thing with a collective “MEH!” But that Chloe Bennett is equal genetic portions of adorable and hot so there’s that. There’s a bigger issue why Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fails but that’s another long blog post for another time. Today Quake is an Inhuman because X-Men are owned by Sony and Marvel is throwing a temper tantrum because Darth Mickey does not have enough dark side of the force to get them back.
Summary – Bad Foundation
One of the reason I have no hopes for the current direction of the DC Cinematic Universe is because it is being built on a god-awful foundation. That foundation is Man of Steel. I was not surprised that Batman v Superman sucked like a Hoover upright. I was not surprised that Suicide Squad was a mess and I won’t be surprised if Wonder Woman and Justice League turns out to be equally messy. Man of Steel is only saved from #1 suck fest by Batman v Superman being a mega-giant ball licking suck fest. I have some hopes for Wonder Woman because it has different hands steering the ship, but so did Suicide Squad. I have the exact same feelings towards the Inhumans. Marvel’s TV division of one whole show already dropped the ball with these guys. (See, #DroppedTheBall #DeflatedTheBall #ThrewTheBallUnderTheBus #BackedTheBusIntoTheBallServeralTimes.)
Next season the main Inhumans are coming to the same TV show that dropped the ball in the first place as well as the worse version Ghost Rider ever. (I’m not kidding, the Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider story was brain bleeding bad.) I suspect they are going to take an awesome hell demon character and turn him into an Inhuman because. . .Agents of S.U.C.K.. They already got rid of the flaming bike and skull for a stupid Supernatural car knock-off and a helmet. (GROAN!) Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. seems terrified of going full blown super hero because they apparently can’t see that this formula has been working pretty damn great on the WB for the past three years. All this is the bad foundation of a show that went wrong two and a half seasons ago. A show that’s about to introduce Blackagar Boltagon to what’s left of Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s audience. (I think maybe three people are still watching it.) Oh yeah, that’s going to work out just as well as bringing Ford back from the dead a trillion times. For this and the other reasons I overstated, the Inhumans will never be a thing. So please Marvel, stop trying to make them a thing.