Charles Soule wraps up his first arc of the series with a rather low-key conclusion in “Uncanny Inhumans” #4, an issue beautifully illustrated by Steve McNiven and Jay Leisten. After surrendering Ahura to Kang, Black Bolt changes his mind in the wake of a series of disturbing confrontations and travels back to the early days of Attilan to get his son back. This, of course, is to undo Kang’s manipulations of Ahura, which resulted in the systematic removal of the Inhuman population by manipulating the timestream. Once everyone converges in old Attilan, though, the story doesn’t carry the same magnitude as the time-abusing despot destroying history; instead, it’s a mostly sedate encounter that coasts to an end.
A superhero story doesn’t necessarily have to end with nothing but fisticuffs, but — in lieu of that — there needs to be more tension, suspense or thrills; however, there’s really not much here to generate any kind of climatic ending. That isn’t to say Soule’s story is devoid of any kind of substance or completely lacking interest; Kang’s arrival in ancient Attilan and his discourse with King Randac make for a nicely explained recap of recent key events. Ahura’s “birth” as an Inhuman, though, lacks any real emotion. The boy’s life doesn’t really seem in need of all that much saving, either, which was the very reason for his being brought back into the distant past.
As always, McNiven’s art is attractive and beautifully detailed, and most of that detail shows through Leisten’s inks, although his style gives McNiven’s lines a little courser look than usual. The art team excels at character likenesses, giving each player a defining appearance beyond their masks and costumes. Even so, the illustrations lack punch in some areas, like Ahura’s rather pedestrian emergence from his cocoon. However, Sunny Gho’s colors bring a little more life to the scene.
In between Ahura’s awakening and the revelation of what Kang would have him become, there’s a whole lot of talking going on and not much else. The most notable moment is Ahura’s reunion with his mother Medusa, which seems cold and insignificant rather as warm and loving as intended; it simply doesn’t feel like a genuinely critical moment. As captured by McNiven and Leisten, it looks more like a posed shot than a spontaneous gesture.
There are some punches thrown near the end of the story, but they’re not enough to lift the issue out of its pervasive low-key vibe. The final battle isn’t the end of the story, though, and it gives way to a showdown intended to be Ahura’s defining moment, which merely plays out as surprisingly empty and partially predictable. He wins the day and proves himself to be the hero, but the resolution is too convenient and just doesn’t deliver the final rush that the story needs. Ahura’s instant emotional thaw towards his father doesn’t ring true either, despite Kang’s defeat.
Soule’s script has its moments and McNiven and Leisten’s art a few more, which is just enough to make “Uncanny Inhumans” #4 a passable but nonetheless disappointing conclusion to an otherwise enjoyable arc.