“Inhumans: Attilan Rising” #3 by Charles Soule and John Timms is divided between two battles: Black Bolt’s mission on New Mars and an attack on the Quiet Room led by Auran. The previous two issues have been building up to these confrontations, but the encounters don’t live up to their dramatic promise. Soule switches between the two settings throughout, but the scene changes don’t feel necessary or part of a larger pattern. As a result, the action feels choppy and it’s difficult to get immersed in either plotline.
Soule’s strengths are usually characterization and plotting, but “Inhumans: Attilan Rising” #3 isn’t strong on either. The dialogue is bland, devoid of quippy chit-chat or illuminating speeches. Part of the problem is that, with the exception of Kamala Khan (who is silenced for the whole issue), most of the cast is composed of solemn, humorless types. It seems ill-advised to muffle Kamala, unless the point was to crudely make sure that she couldn’t steal any scenes with her charm. The only event with any dramatic juice to it is when Black Bolt makes Medusa an offer. Even then, the nobility of his sacrifice doesn’t have enough pathos or originality in its expression to be memorable.
Soule’s Resistance vs. Tyranny plot is a variation on the old David vs. Goliath matchup. Despite how bad things look for the Resistance, there is no suspense. A classic plotline always has potential but, in “Inhumans: Attilan Rising” #3, the generic characterization and dialogue don’t inspire investment in the stakes. The costume redesigns look good, but Soule leans too heavily on legacy reader investment to fuel interest, and it doesn’t work. “Matt Murdoch” lacks Daredevil’s grace and brains, or at least he doesn’t show it here. Black Bolt vs. Medusa should be exciting, but their dialogue could be switched out for any two super-powered foes. The fact that the two characters are married in the regular universe doesn’t add any frisson, since they don’t have much chemistry on-panel. Dramatic tension never builds up.
Timms’ art is overly stylized. Costumes and muscles don’t drape naturally, and there is a lot of extraneous textural detail that clutters up the panels. Timms’ panel compositions look great, particularly for Medusa’s hair, but the sense of movement from panel to panel is very weak. Murdoch’s body has a beautiful curvature and confident linework as he jumps but, in the next panel, looks like he’s in an awkward split as he kicks. The foot extending beyond the panel doesn’t have any energy to it, because the limbs look too stiff.
Poggi’s inking is stiff, and it’s hard to know how much of the overall flatness and stillness of the artwork is due to his hand. Poggi defines outlines with a lot of flair, but he doesn’t distinguish the important details from the trivial ones. For example, Timms zooms in on Mega-Rad’s body in a battle scene. Not only is close-up unnecessary, but Poggi’s inking makes it pop even more when there’s no reason to make this panel the most prominent on the page.
Figures feel flat despite their heavy coutours. In some panels, there is a lighter-colored border around Timms’ and Poggi’s already thick outlines. This unfortunate technique makes the characters look like superimposed stickers on the page instead of figures that are integrated within their settings. The backgrounds also lack any sense of depth, and D’Armata’s palette of hazy, dull greens and yellows doesn’t help.
Even the Medusa’s parting shot in the last page cliffhanger leaves behind a bland, generic impression. All the lackluster action has little meaning behind it, except to establish Black Bolt’s bonafides as a good leader. “Inhumans: Attilan Rising” #3 is the weakest issue of the series so far, and it’s a surprising step backward in Soule’s efforts to raise the Inhumans’ profile in the Marvel Universe.