Halfway through “Secret Invasion,” do we really need another tie-in series to launch? Well, we’re getting a bunch of them this week whether we need them or not, and while I haven’t read the others yet, I can say that “Secret Invasion: Inhumans” is worth your time. It’s a great start, and an excellent Marvel debut for “Heroes” writer Joe Pokaski.
Like the more effective and interesting “Secret Invasion” tie-ins — “Captain Britain and MI: 13” and “Black Panther” come to mind — this one takes place away from the center of the action. I suppose you could say that the entire Earth is the center of the action, but with the focus of the main series on New York and the Savage Land, and with most tie-ins filling in back story, it’s nice to see how some of the lesser illuminated corners of the Marvel Universe are dealing with the invasion in their own way. And what makes “Secret Invasion: Inhumans” so good is that it operates as an excellent Inhumans story as much as it’s a story about Skrull hijinx.
I’ve been following most, if not all, of the Inhumans-related series over the past 10 or 12 years, and I really wouldn’t be able to identify the status quo on Attilan. It’s been kind of a mess recently, with events in “Silent War” seeming to contradict what was happening to the Inhumans elsewhere. While Sean McKeever’s “Inhumans” was a nice, short-lived little series, it was the foreign exchange student version of the Inhumans, and the Lee and Kirby classic characters appeared only in cameos. So while I know that Black Bolt was one of the first big guns to be revealed as a Skrull, I’m not sure what the Inhumans are really about these days.
This series immediately clarifies that. Pokaski and artist Tom Raney use the first issue to firmly establish the Inhuman status quo, and they use a brilliant visual technique to recall the highlights of the past. Instead of using flashbacks, Pokaski and Raney use stained-glass windows, designed to illustrate the Inhumans past inside a temple, as Karnak speaks to his acolytes. The stained glass allows Raney to use a thick, Kirby-esque line as he shows a group image of Black Bolt, Medusa, Karnak, etc. in their prime. And while the opening scene is exposition, it’s much-needed and interesting exposition, clearly defining who the Inhumans are and what they’re all about. Even as a long-time Inhumans reader (and a fan of the idea, if not the execution of their past few series), I appreciated it. And Pokaski is excellent with dialogue, clearly defining each character by the way they speak.
Maximus, the new leader of the Inhumans, who sees this Skrull threat as yet another reason to consolidate power under his control, is portrayed as a bored, selfish emperor. When the aquatic Triton updates the Inhuman council on current political affairs, Maximus retorts sarcastically, “Oh, what could I possibly add that the cod hasn’t gurgled so eloquently?” Pokaski just nails the character and the rest of the Inhumans with such spot-on dialogue, and Raney does a nice job capturing the appropriate body language.
The series doesn’t seem to be heading in any surprising direction, but it’s extremely well-executed and establishes the strange incestuous wonder of the Inhumans as well as any series in recent memory. It’s nice to see the Inhumans get their groove back, and if it took a Skrull invasion to do it, that’s okay with me.