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Soule Discusses Building His “Inhuman” Empire at Marvel

by  in Comic News Comment
Soule Discusses Building His “Inhuman” Empire at Marvel

The Inhumans have played a significant role in the Marvel Universe for thousands of years, but the secretive nature of the ancient society of super humans means the average Marvel denizen has no idea the impact they’ve had on the planet. Following the events of 2013’s “Infinity” event, everything changed as the world at large was alerted to the presence of Inhumans when a bomb unleashed a cloud of mist that transformed thousands of people into new members of their super powered society.

Write Charles Soule began chronicling this new era in the debut issue of “Inhuman,” and since then he’s weaved a tale that has grown bigger and bigger by the month. The Inhumans reestablished Attilan, their capital city, in the Hudson river; their new monarch Medusa has tackled the challenges of wearing the crown, and several “Nuhmans” have become part of the fabric of the Marvel Universe.

Soule Sends Black Bolt Down a New Path in “Uncanny Inhumans”

In the months ahead, both the scope and scale of Soule’s story will continue to escalate as he reaches the climax of his first long form “Inhuman” story and establishes them on the newly formed Battleworld as “Secret Wars” arrives. CBR News spoke with Soule about his plans for the Inhumans, including the return of former Inhuman ruler Black Bolt in a three-part tale that brings the first year to an explosive conclusion as well as “Inhumans: Attilan Rising,” a “Secret Wars” series that finds the titular cast dealing with the dangers and intrigue of Battleworld.

CBR News: Your first year of “Inhuman” is nearing its conclusion, and you’ve put a lot of new elements and characters in play in the Marvel Universe. It seems like your mission statement for this first year was to really add to the Inhumans’ world and grow the character of Medusa. Was that your goal for the series?

Charles Soule: I think you have it exactly right. Before “Secret Wars,” what I consider the first chunk of the “Inhuman” story will be complete, We’ll have fourteen issues plus an Annual. With some extra little bits and bobs here and there added in, I call it sixteen issues of material. In those sixteen issues, we introduced a ton of new characters and concepts. I wanted to make it very clear that “Inhuman” could sustain many types of stories — not just the cosmically-oriented tales focusing on the royal family that have characterized the Inhumans to date. The next few issues draw together all the threads I’ve laid down since Issue #1 — I love long-term storytelling, just because it’s so much fun to finally get to the point where you’re pulling the trigger on stuff you’ve been thinking about and setting up for months (and in this case, more than a year).

Soule Plots a Return of the Kings in “Inhuman”

Former Inhuman king Black Bolt was believed dead when the series began. His absence made him only loosely figure into the background of the series initially, but recently he’s moved back onto the main stage in a major way. What’s it like writing Black Bolt, especially considering his return and what that means for his people? You could definitely say that there’s something suspicious about Black Bolt’s body language and actions at the end of issue #12. Is Black Bolt keeping his cards close to his vest even around Medusa?

Black Bolt sort of doesn’t have any choice but to keep pretty quiet about his intentions, because the minute he opens his mouth everything around him is blasted into oblivion. Black Bolt was always part of my plans for the series, but he also carries tons of gravity. Bringing him in too early might have run the risk of overshadowing the story I really wanted to tell (at least in part), which was about Medusa building a new nation on her own. But now that we’ve seen what Medusa can do — she’s obviously an incredibly capable leader in her own right — it seemed time to bring back the king and let them bounce off one another a bit.

Black Bolt appears to be sticking around for “Inhuman” #13-14 and April’s “Inhuman Annual” #1.” Are these three issues one story? What can readers expect from them and how do they set the stage for “Secret Wars?”

They are absolutely one story, and also the capstone to the larger tale that we’ve seen in Issues 1-12. Let’s see — Lineage finally takes center stage, and we see what he’s been up to since the start. Eldrac has one of my favorite little bits I’ve done in the entire series, and I finally got to include a substantial guest appearance from Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan. In fact, I believe the events of the “Ms. Marvel” series line up quite nicely with what’s happening in these issues. It’s not quite a crossover, but people who read both will be happy, I think. These issues are also designed to firmly lock the Inhumans into the Marvel Universe. Events happening in New Attilan aren’t just affecting that little island near the Statue of Liberty — they’re rippling out to every corner of the planet.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that a few characters people have been clamoring for will appear in these issues — I don’t want to spoil that, but I think the last page of #13 will be very interesting to long-time fans of the Inhuman characters.

April also sees the release of “Uncanny Inhumans” #0, which stars Black Bolt. Does this also set the stage for the Inhumans’ role in “Secret Wars?” And does the series begin as its own thing or is it directly tied to the three-issue “Inhuman” arc?

“Uncanny Inhumans” #0 spins very directly out of what we saw in Issue #12 of “Inhuman” (that is — SPOILER! the knockdown, drag out fight between Medusa and Black Bolt that led to the king flying off, leaving Medusa to govern New Attilan on her own, as she requested). Black Bolt is off by himself, trying to figure out a way to continue helping the Inhuman nation, when he encounters — Kang the Conqueror!

The whys and wherefores of that adventure I’ll leave for the issue, but the story has some fantastic action, and it a) lets us see Black Bolt in a way we haven’t really before and b) sets up the start of one hell of a story that we’ll see spinning out as the story continues. Introductory issues are always tricky, but I’m pretty happy with that one.

You kicked off the first year of your Inhumans work by collaborating with Joe Madureira and looks like this year you’ll be bringing it to a close with some other fantastic artists that include Ryan Stegman who’s done several issues of this series, Andre Lima Araújo who is doing issues #13 & #14, and Steve McNiven who’s drawing “Uncanny Inhumans” #0. How does it feel to be given the chance to build up and expand the Inhumans’ world with all these great artists?

Andre is doing an incredible job. You can’t forget Pepe Larraz on issues #7-8, either. The artists on “Inhuman” have been, without a doubt, top notch. I hadn’t worked with any of them before my time working with them on this series (Steve McNiven is the one exception, as we did “Death of Wolverine” together), but I would do another book with any of them again in a heartbeat. These books are never a solo effort, or even really a duo effort.

The colorists have been exceptional as well, from Marte Gracia to Richard Isanove, and then there’s poor Clayton Cowles on letters, stuck dealing with all my many, many words. The “Inhuman” team has strong mojo, now and going forward. I’ve been very lucky.

Soule Enters “Secret Wars” with “Inhumans: Attilan Rising”

In May you’re shaking the Inhumans’ world up by transporting it to Battleworld during “Secret Wars” with the “Inhumans: Attilan Rising” series. What’s it like writing the Inhumans against the backdrop of the “Secret Wars” Battleworld? What can you tell us about the domain Attilan is in when the story begins?

Well, part of the fun of “Secret Wars” is that a lot of it is secret, so I don’t want to spoil too much. I will say that much of “Attilan Rising” is set in or around Manhattan and New Attilan, but it also bops around to many of the other incredibly cool locations we’ve already seen revealed on the Battleworld map. The story starts in Greenland, for example.

I am having an absolute blast with this story, as well as everything else I’ve been doing in connection with the “Secret Wars” event. The framework is set up in such a way that almost anything goes (depending on how you want to look at it), and I’m really trying to run with that in a big way.

As you’ve possibly seen from some of the images released so far, I’m going with sort of a “resistance movement” story. I referenced “Casablanca” a lot when I was working up the pitch for this, and while that’s not a perfect analogy, I think it’s close enough to give you a vague sense of the tone. I’m going for epic, both on the emotional and the action sides. There’s a strong beating heart to this story that I think folks will dig whether they’ve been reading “Inhuman” or not. It works on its own as well as a cool “Secret Wars story,” and I’m really looking forward to people seeing the first issue.

What kind of impact will the destruction of the Marvel Universe and the creation of Battleworld have on your cast and the issues they’re wrestling with? Are you still dealing with the same cast of Nu and established Inhumans that you’ve been developing? Or is your cast composed of new or slightly different incarnations of the Inhumans?

“Secret Wars” will have a massive effect on everything. Believe me. But specifically with respect to the Inhumans (Nu or otherwise), I would expect some changes. That’s part of the fun of the event. I don’t have to do things exactly the way people would expect, and messing with those expectations can yield some very interesting dramatic (and funny, or scary, or exciting) results.

Artist John Timms will bring the action in “Attilan Rising” to life and what I’ve seen of his art in recent issues of “Nova” suggests a flair for action and a style similar to Ryan Stegman, which means there’s a sense of visual continuity for “Inhuman” readers. Would you agree with that assessment, and what has your collaboration with John been like so far?

First, John is super excited to be working on this book. His enthusiasm is infectious, as they say. I was always into this story, but knowing that John is as into it as he is gives me a boost as well. He designed a big new location called the Quiet Room which will play a big role in the series, and just nailed it. I gave him a very specific sort of reference — a location from an iconic film that I wanted him to emulate on a tonal level — and he took it and made it his own. He’s great. And I have to mention Dave Johnson who’s doing covers and many of the character designs for the book.

To wrap up, I know you don’t want to give away the secrets of “Secret Wars,” but what can you tease for readers about “Attilan Rising” and how it figures into your grand Inhumans saga? What kind of obstacles will your characters encounter on Battleworld?

As I mentioned, we see some scenes in Greenland, and other places as well. Not just places, either. There’s a major non-Inhuman character I had to reach out to Jason Aaron to discuss. I wanted his thumbs-up before I used this particular person, and thankfully he was on board. Who is it? Well, you’ll find out in a few months, but it was very fun to research his particular patois, and I think John’s having a great time drawing his stuff as well.

You know what? I can’t wait. It’s the Undead G-Man from his “Ghost Rider” run. The Undead G-Man is in “Attilan Rising.” That sort of thing is precisely why “Secret Wars” (my stories and everyone else’s) will kick ass.

I would certainly suggest that everyone check out the Free Comic Book Day issue from Marvel, which includes a gorgeous Inhuman-related story drawn by Brandon Peterson, with colors from the incomparable Justin Ponsor. Some major revelations and new character introductions in that one.

Beyond that — well, it’s a hell of a time to be at the wheel for all this Inhuman stuff. It feels like there’s new stuff happening all the time, between Nuhumans popping up on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” the upcoming “Inhumans” film, and the many awesome things we have planned for the comics. There’s a lot of energy in the Inhuman corner of the Marvel Universe at the moment, and I’m really enjoying being a part of it.

“Inhuman” #13 by Soule & Ryan Stegman goes on sale March 25; “Uncanny Inhumans” #0 by Soule & Steve McNiven debuts April 1; “Inhumans: Attilan Rising” by Soule & John Timms begins May 27.

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