There’s something a bit depressing about “Inhuman” #2, but unfortunately it’s not deliberate. After all the lead-up to “Inhuman” — the “Infinity” mini-series event and all of the crossovers, the “Inhumanity” issues, and the various tie-ins — the series is two issues in and feels curiously hollow. Without Marvel having told us that Charles Soule and Joe Madureira’s series was supposed to be the next big thing, I think “Inhuman” would have come across as a perfectly average comic. But with so much build-up and a hype machine attached to it, it’s almost impossible to not be disappointed.
Part of the problem is that there’s nothing in “Inhuman” #2 that hasn’t been seen before. This certainly isn’t the first time that we’ve had Inhumans, or even their city of Attilan up close and personal with humanity. In all of the various places that Attilan’s bounced around over the years (with other past locations including the Moon, the Himalayas, the Andes and floating around in outer space), one of them included the resurfaced island of Atlantis just off the coast of the United States. And of course, the Sean McKeever-written “Inhumans” series that was part of Marvel’s ill-fated Tsunami line had Inhumans going to college with regular people in Wisconsin. Heck, the “Silent War” and “Son of M” mini-series had other people being mutated by the Terrigan Crystals.
So once you strip away the idea that this is something new and different, that means that “Inhuman” can’t rely on big crazy different ideas, and has to instead solely go for the execution of these ideas. After all, you can get away without huge surprises so long as it’s done with a high level of quality. And with “Inhuman” #2, it’s just average. Soule’s script is just marching along without any real sparkle to it; a little bit of training the new guy, a little bit of bonding over something that you wouldn’t expect the hero to like, but nothing noteworthy. None of the characters have a distinct voice yet, or even a particularly strong personality. Again, it’s not bad — it’s just not memorable, either. Nothing that happens here is strong enough to make the reader sit up and take notice. After all of the delays and reshuffles with “Inhuman” in general, that’s unfortunate.
Madureira, who was originally supposed to have “Inhuman” be his big return to monthly comics (following some short stints on “Avenging Spider-Man” and “Savage Wolverine”), is now slated to depart after issue #3. And looking at “Inhuman” #2, it feels like his enthusiasm has already gone. There are some strong images here and there; for instance, the opening splash of the remnants of Attilan perched just off of the shore of Ellis Island, looks great. Attilan looks simultaneously high-tech and ruined, which is no easy feat. Having it dwarf the State of Liberty is a smart tactic, giving it a level of majesty. But Medusa ranges from regal to featureless here, and the opening page of the fight in Central Park looks like a big blurred mess. All of the energy and slickness that you associate with Madureira is muted in “Inhuman” #2, and when the dust settles… it’s average. And that’s not an adjective that should ever be associated with Madureira, or the art of what’s supposed to be your huge hot new series.
“Inhuman” #2 is depressingly average. It could be a lot better. It could be a lot worse. Maybe once things settle down and Soule’s had time to work with the new artist, things can turn around. He’s certainly worked wonders on a lot of other series. But for what’s supposed to be the next big thing at Marvel, “Inhuman” #2 is just the next thing.