Matt Fraction Explores "Inhumanity"

SPOILER WARNING: The following article discusses events from this week's "Infinity" #3 in detail.

These days, Marvel Comics event series are popping off like firecrackers. Currently, the Avengers-led series "Infinity" is blowing up things across the entire cosmos of the Marvel U (in some cases literally) while the X-corner of the world is embroiled in the "Battle of the Atom" storyline. But coming this December, another event will take center stage, spotlighting a group of characters who most often live on the fringes of the publisher's line: the Inhumans.

This winter, "Inhumanity" launches from writer Matt Fraction and artist Olivier Coipel. That core special will explore a new set of challenges for the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby tribe of genetically enhanced ancients after their home city of Attilan was destroyed by Thanos in this week's "Infinity" #3. Meanwhile, many Marvel Universe titles like "Mighty Avengers," "Indestructible Hulk" and "Uncanny Avengers" will tie into the event with special issues carrying a ".INH" distinction after their numbers. The event will also launch some spinoff series including Matt Kindt and Paul Davidson's "Inhumanity: The Awakening" and Fraction and Joe Madureira's "Inhuman."

To prep readers for what's coming, Marvel hosted a press call with Fraction and Senior Editor Nick Lowe about "Inhumanity," and CBR News was on hand to record all the action.

"The fall of Attilan is going to be one of those sort of moments where the status quo for a big chunk of the Marvel Universe changes," Fraction said at the start. "'Inhumanity' which spills out of 'Infinity' deals with the immediate fallout of what that means for the royal family...and to Inhumans all around the world."

As for his take on the heroes, the writer said that much like Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso's description of the characters as "space hippies," this event marks the death of their "San Francisco" which will shake out a lot of characters who have been living in secret that fans have never seen before. "We find out there are a lot more Inhumans than we ever imagined," he said. "It's not a book that's just about the royal family...this had to be what Bendis and Millar were feeling when they were cooking up the Ultimate Universe back in the day...the opportunity to cook up all new kinds of stuff."

Alosno joined in to say that the story would explore layers under layers of the Inhuman's world. Fraction said that for many characters, they'll be understanding their Inhuman legacy for the first time. "It's like finding out your grandfather was a pirate very suddenly," he said. "And I think the Marvel Universe will be discovering the Inhumans for the very first time much like the readers will."

Lowe added that the series will shake up "the structure of the Marvel Universe...it's really exciting. There's a new angle that got us all pumped up while discussing it here." The editor said that artists Olivier Coipel and Joe Mad were digging in to designing new parts of this world and new characters within it.

Press questions opened up with the idea of how the world would respond to the Inhumans being revealed. Fraction called it "A super-humanitarian crisis" where there will be multiple responses from the fear of the public to villains wanting to take advantage of the situation to heroes trying to help. But overall, the view of the events will be ground level from the new Inhumans.

Fraction said his first connection to the characters reading the Marvel historical series "Marvel Saga" which mixed together panels and events from Marvel's past. "As 'Marvel Saga' got to the Fantastic Four's first encounter with the Inhumans, that's where I first saw them," he said, noting that he was struck by the image of Johnny Storm and Crystal being separated from each other. Lowe said he also learned about the characters from old Marvel Handbooks, but his first main story exposure was the classic Paul Jenkins/Jae Lee Marvel Knights mini series on the cast from the late '90s.

Fraction clarified how the event will roll out, saying that the "Inhumanity" #1 issue will be a one-shot focusing on the royal family first and where they are at with some of the Avengers reaction to the fall of Attilan tied in. From there, the story will spread out into tie-in issues of regular Marvel series while the "Inhuman" series will carry the brunt of the story of new Inhumans in the Marvel U. "All the tie-ins I've been really pleased with," Lowe said. "It's been really interesting to see how different points of view attack this concept and story."

The writer said that part of the fun of the series has been not nailing down big events to dictate to tie-in writers like Mark Waid, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Warren Ellis. Rather, they want to leave the story open for anyone to build their own part of the Inhumans universe as it goes.

When asked about how the Inhumans will be seen as different from the X-Men's mutant population, the call said that they can't say too much until "Infinity" #4 has hit, but the history of the characters as a genetic mistake will drive some major differences in the two groups. "The history is wildly different and the circumstances are wildly different...and with all due respect, I think the metaphor is wildly different," Fraction said. "In 'Inhumanity' you get a hint of prehistorical man...it's a big, long story."

What they could reveal is that there will be some new looks to the Inhuman characters. "I've been all for letting two of the best designers working at Marvel Comics go nuts with these guys," Fraction said, noting that the core characters will be recognizable, but "If Olivier and Joe want to be Olivier and Joe, I'm not going to stop them."

Lowe added that since they've only been used sparingly over the years, only a few artists have guided how the characters are presented - Kirby and Lee in particular. He also joked that Joe Mad was worried about Fraction "making him work" with a lot of panels per page, but the writer pointed out to his artist that the most he's ever drawn in a story came in "Battle Chasers" which he wrote for himself and added 16-panel pages.

As for the Fantastic Four, the franchise that Fraction just left to spend all his time on "Inhumanity," the writer said it was no mistake that he put many Inhumans characters in "FF" and hinted that the seeds planted there would play into the event in some way. But overall, Fraction said this story is all-new territory for him in terms of style and substance. He compared it to writing a novel more so than a regular comic series.

Karnak will play a major role in "Inhumanity" #1, and Fraction said that the "Karate Genius" took the lead as "He's perfect for this story because he's the one who puts puzzles together." The plan behind the scenes that Black Bolt and Maximus have been building needs to be unveiled, and Karnak is the character who can best guide the reader through that process. He would not, however, confirm whether Maximus survives the explosion of "Inhumanity" #3.

As far as influences go, Fraction pointed towards big science fiction epics like "Dune" and comics own "Metabarons."

The call wrapped with Lowe noting that this is a story that's been long in gestation. "I'm just glad it's coming to fruition in such a really cool way," he said. The call also noted that there will be a second "Inhumanity" bookend which could not be revealed until after "Infinity" #4.

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