“Inhumans: Attilan Rising” comes to a close in issue #5, and the big twist manages to surprise the reader without deflating everything that’s come before it. Charles Soule knows how to tug at a reader’s heartstrings with high drama, and John Timms, Roberto Poggi and Frank D’Armata pack a punch with classic, killer artwork. Despite all it has going for it, though, “Inhumans: Attilan Rising” #5 is still rushed, and it’s hampered by the need to establish a place in the larger “Secret Wars” narrative. As a tie-in, “Inhumans: Attilan Rising” has been a satisfying read, but it didn’t do much beyond that.
For its first half, this issue capitalizes on the good work done in issue #4. The rebellion plot picked up and took on clear direction last issue and, as a result, Soule can motor through the beginning of this one by unleashing all the consequences of that development. Soule also does excellent work cutting between scenes; he has a strong ear for when to break, so even the plans and discussions feel exciting and pressing. However, Soule knows how to pace a plot, but not a relationship. Medusa and Black Bolt’s kiss is depicted with fiery, end-is-nigh passion by John Timms, but emotionally it felt too fast and unearned. Medusa and Black Bolt’s partnership was built up thoughtfully and believably, but I didn’t read any sexual tension or romantic passion in their exchanges. It’s possible I’m just a cold fish, but that aspect of their relationship felt like it was required by their character histories rather than justified by this actual story. The rest of the denouement also came on so speedily it didn’t always have time to land, though Black Bolt’s devastating transformation is the exception here.
John Timms’ figures are strong and bold, and Roberto Poggi leans into that effect with thick, clear inking that enhances the solidity of every character. Colorist Frank D’Armata goes full superhero, using a slick, familiar palette that pulls the reader right in. The team has particular fun with Medusa’s hair, a visually arresting power that can be difficult for some creative teams to capture in motion. The team on “Attilan Rising” handles it with aplomb; I loved the panel where she escapes from the Thors on her hair, as if it’s just a set of particularly long spare legs.
Despite all these excellent characteristics, the art does get spotty at points, with some awkward postures and unnatural angles. This looks like more a matter of rushing than ineptitude, but it does crop up.
Now for the twist. (Please feel free to skip this paragraph to avoid spoilers.). While Doom’s grand experiment does undo the four issues that came before it, giving this particular tie-in a sort of pointlessness, it also illuminates the sickness of Doom’s godlike powers. Doom’s even, disengaged observation of the Inhumans’ misery — “Fascinating…Utterly fascinating” — feels particularly heartless beside Black Bolt’s vengeful cries. Letterer Clayton Cowles really drives the contrast home. In the scheme of “Secret Wars,” it’s fascinating. In terms of its own storyline, though, it does leave a little wanting.
“Inhumans: Attilan Rising” #5 manages to drop a meaningful twist in a series that, by its nature, doesn’t have Marvel Universe-wide meaning on its own. Soule and Timms show that it’s possible to get investment and shock out of a tie-in series that must inevitably end. With more time and less meandering in the first three issues, this could have been truly excellent.