The Inhumans are here. Marvel’s latest TV series has arrived on ABC and you just know that they’ll be more Easter eggs than you can shake a teleporting bulldog at. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered as each and every week, we will spell out all the little bits of comic book fan service that Inhumans springs upon fandom.
So dive in kids, and get to know all the bits of comic business than inspired Marvel’s Inhumans…
The first shot of the new series is of the moon which is very appropriate. As old time Marvel fans know, the moon is a very important in Inhumans lore. When the Inhumans were first introduced to the world by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in Fantastic Four #45 (1965), they lived in a hidden location in the Himalayan Mountains. For years, Inhumans and humans lived with a sort of uncomfortable unawareness of each other. When the Inhumans came to be known to the world at large, humans grew more and more mistrustful of the hidden race. It was at that point that King Black Bolt decided to relocate his people to the Blue Area of the Moon.
What the hell is that, you ask? The Blue Area of the Moon is a hidden from human eyes portion of the moon’s lunar landscape that possesses a breathable atmosphere that was created by the Skrulls millions of years ago. The Area was used by Uatu the Watcher as his base of operations and became a familiar setting to the Fantastic Four as the team journeyed their many times to help their big headed, bald pal. Always tight with the Inhumans, the FF helped locate Black Bolt, Medusa, their subjects, and the entire city of Attilan to the Blue Area when pollution created by mankind began to sicken the Inhumans. This exodus happened in Fantastic Four #240 (1982) by John Byrne.
Speaking of Attilan, the city has long been the refuge of the Inhumans since Jack and Stan introduced the race in 1965. Attilan has long been called The Great Refuge and has served as a place where the Inhumans can be shielded from humanity. As we said, Attilan was originally hidden in the Himalayas when mankind’s technology became advanced enough to stumble on the Refuge.
Attilan is a Kirby creation at its core. Like Asgard, when Kirby rendered Attilan it was a sight to behold. Gleaming golden spires, archaic and futuristic technology and architecture, and wonderfully strange beings inhabited the city and Kirby’s sense of ownership of the setting was palpable in every panel.
The fish man Triton was the first Royal Family member to appear on the new ABC series. Before we talk about Triton, we have to ask, why would he be wearing a raincoat? Does the fish person not want to get wet? That’s just silly.
riton usually runs around shirtless and with bare legs because wearing a heavy raincoat would be dopey if you’re only power is swimming really quickly. Oh yeah, we’re going to get mileage out of this kids, strap in. Questionable wardrobe choices aside, Triton has long been one of Black Bolt’s most loyal followers. The seafaring Inhuman was one of the first to appear in Kirby and Lee’s Fantastic Four #45 and over the years, he was a constant presence wherever the Royal Family turned up. Lee must have liked the fish man because Triton even appeared in a few back up features in the pages of Thor. Triton is a staunch ally of Namor the Sub-Mariner because those fishy folk tend to stick together. It was really cool to see Triton make his live action debut after so many years, even if it was for only six seconds.
Our next major Inhuman power player to make a TV debut is the queen of the Inhumans, Medusa. Medusa was one of the only Inhumans to debut before Fantastic Four #45. Medusalith Amaquelin Boltagon first appeared in Fantastic Four #36 (1965) and was brought into Marvel continuity as a member of the Frightful Four. Joining Medusa and Wizard were Sandman and Paste Pot Pete (please Marvel, find a way to include Paste Pot Pete in Inhumans…please). At this time, Medusa suffered from amnesia and had no memory of her past. She was used as a living weapon by the Wizard in his attempts to take down the FF. Lee and Kirby really played up her mysterious past, until she was reunited with her Inhuman brethren. Medusa is an example of early brilliant Marvel continuity as her lost past become the narrative line into the introduction to the Inhumans.
Blackagar Boltagon is one of Marvel’s most mysterious and powerful characters. The voiceless King of the Inhumans and husband to Medusa has reigned over the Inhumans since Fantastic Four #45. The TV series pretty much captured Black Bolt’s mannerisms and his regality while skimping on his iconic costume. In the comics, Black Bolt wears a black mask topped by his signature tuning fork symbol. Blackagar also has bat-like wings that are so badass and cool that I can’t wrap my head around why the series jettisoned them. Yeah, the series got the color patterns right, but how do you add his that little tiara thing but forgo the wings?
Since his very earliest appearances, Black Bolt has been fascinated with humanity and has tried to achieve racial harmony with his human brethren. Recently in the comics, Black Bolt was responsible for spreading the Terrigen Mists around the world creating millions of more Inhumans. Of course on TV, that event happened on Agents of SHIELD and had nothing to do with Black Bolt and the Royal Family. To conclude things with the Silent King, recently in the comics, it was revealed that Black Bolt owns a Karaoke bar on Earth and the TV series better acknowledge this because it’s just too cool for words. C’mon Marvel, you took the mask and wings, give me something here.
Since we’re talking about Black Bolt, we might as well mention that the Royal Family crest that repeats throughout the show as a visual motif is a mirror of the tuning fork thingie that the comic versions of Black Bolt and Lockjaw have on their heads. It’s nice that Marvel incorporated the familiar image somewhere in the show…
The next big deal Inhuman we will cover is Gorgon. Gorgon served as a harbinger to the arrival of the Inhumans in Lee and Kirby’s Fantastic Four #44 (1965), where the earthquake making, hooved Gorgon shows up to find the still suffering from amnesia Medusa. Gorgon has long been rivals with the Thing and has served as Black Bolt’s Inhuman captain of the guards. The comic book Gorgon is much more satyr like in appearance, but TV’s Gorgon perfectly captured the kindly brute’s courage and brashness. Recently in the comics, Gorgon has been crippled and is forced to use a huge wheelchair or exo-skeleton in order to achieve mobility.
And now we have Karnak. Karnak is a disciplined martial artist who has the power to find a weakness in anything. Karnak can stop a tank with a single chop or bring down a mountain with a whistle. Gorgon and Karnak are the closest of allies and family, but they have a serious adversarial relationship which carries over nicely to the TV series.
Karnak is one of the greatest strategists in the Marvel Universe and Black Bolt often looks to the disciplined monk for help bringing down even the most powerful enemies. Karnak used to be portrayed as having a monstrous oblong head that he would conceal beneath a distinctive battle helm. These day, comic book Karnak sports a hoodie and facial tattoos which is obviously where the TV version of Karnak takes its inspiration. Recently, Marvel published a short Karnak series written by the great Warren Ellis and that series serves as a guide to how creepy and awesome Karnak can truly be.
On the new TV series, Maximus is probably the Inhumans character that is most different from his comic book counterpart. In the comics, Maximus is known as Maximus the Mad, while on TV he is more like Maximus the Slightly Creepy. The classic Maximus has a great deal in common with Loki while TV’s Maximus is more like a mash up of Wormtongue from Lord of the Rings and some douchebag corporate middle management type.
But that’s not the comic book Maximus. The classic Maximus has been the Shakespearean antagonist in the Inhumans epic. He is an unpredictable force of nature that has served his family as many times as he has turned on them. In the TV series, Maximus is reviled because he is a plain human with no terrigen powers, but in the comics, Maximus has the power to muddle, wipe, and confuse the minds of others. He is a genius level intellect and a constant creator of chaos. Hopefully as we move forward, TV’s Maximus will become more than just a slacker Ramsey Bolton.
What is Terrigenesis?
So I guess we’re going to hear the word terrigenesis six million times on Inhumans, so let’s cover it. Since the Inhumans’ earliest appearances, it has been established that at puberty, they’re exposed to the terrigen mists and granted random powers. The terrigenesis can cause physical transformations or grant those exposed any kind of powers. It’s actually a pretty cool concept that sets Inhumans apart from mutants.
The story of Crystal and her star crossed romance was the original emotional center into the epic tale of the Inhumans. Crystalia Amaquelin instantly fell in love with Johnny Storm, the Human Torch when first meeting Marvel’s first family. The Torch and Crystal’s forbidden romance became the focal point of the first Inhumans stories and in many ways, Crystal has always been the Torch’s great love. The Torch and Crystal’s bond became the catalyst between the long friendship between the FF and the Inhumans, and Crystal even joined the Fantastic Four when Sue Storm Richards was pregnant with her first child.
For those not in the know, Crystal has had a long and storied presence in the Marvel Universe. She was married to and had a child with the mutant Avenger known as Quicksilver, she joined the Avengers, and she even led her own team of Inhumans (The All-New Inhumans) on Earth after the terrigenesis began to spread. It will be interesting to see if TV’s Crystal will fall in love with a human and recreate the bond that once united two races in the pages of the FF.
The TV series pretty much got Lockjaw perfect. I mean, he’s a giant teleporting bulldog, it’s impossible to mess that up (I suppose you can randomly give him a raincoat). Lockjaw first appeared with the rest of the Inhumans in Fantastic Four #45. For a while, comic Lockjaw was said to be a sentient Inhuman and not a dog. You see, the Thing was told that Lockjaw was an Inhuman that went through terrigenesis and was transformed into a giant canine. This turned out to be a rib and in truth, everyone’s favorite humongous bundle of cute is in fact just a really big, super powered dog. Throughout his history, Lockjaw has struck out on his own and even formed his own team of animal heroes, the Pet Avengers. And how that hasn’t been an animated series yet is completely beyond me.
Who the hell is this guy?
The name of the prescient young Inhuman boy that has become Maximus’s pawn is very reminiscent of recent Inhuman comic book addition Ulysses. First off, I’m not even going to try and spell this young Inhuman’s name. His moniker sounds like that noise that Curley Howard made when he got scared. Anyway, Ulysses is an Inhuman that was introduced in the pages of Marvel’s Civil War II. He was about the same age as the precognitive young Inhuman introduced in the premiere. Ulysses caused no end of trouble when the heroes of the MU began battling over whether they should arrest the people who committed acts of evil in Ulysses’ visions. I don’t think young Bnnyannagh or whatever his name is will have that sort of effect on the MCU, but there are some interesting parallels between Ulysses and Maximus’ precog patsy.
The Cutting of Medusa’s Hair
Medusa’s haircut was taken right out of the comics. In the absolute classic 1998 Inhumans maxi series written by Paul Jenkins with art by Jae Lee, Maximus violates Medusa by shaving her living locks. It was a shocking moment, but it led to an absolutely stunning revenge by Medusa that defined her inner strength for years to come. In the comics, the haircut led to an awesome conclusion, on TV. I have a feeling the haircut was simply done just to save on the FX budget which is a damn shame. I hope the series proves me wrong because Medusa’s revenge is freaking epic.
Maximus’s psychic toy (Let’s just call him Not Ulysses) is forced to work in the mines as a member of the Inhuman labor class because he did not clearly display any terrigen powers. In the comics, the Inhumans have a slave class known as the Alpha Primitives. The Primitives toil to keep Attilan functioning but are treated like pack animals. When they are first introduced, the Alpha Primitives have no rights in Inhuman society and are just expected to function quietly and efficiently. At first, the Primitives seemed simple and content, but some of the members of the royal family began to be troubled by essentially having a slave class in the otherwise free society of Attilan. Crystal in particular had empathy for the Primitives while Maximus often used the Primitives as foot soldiers in his many attempts to overthrow Black Bolt’s rule.
All this holds true to the introduction of a forced working class in to the TV series as Maximus is using the unpowered residents of Attilan’s discontent to feed his rebellion. It’s interesting that this TV dynamic is kind of the reversal of the classic mutant human dynamic over in the X-Men. In the X-Men, the powered mutants are the subjected class while humans rule, and now on TV’s Inhumans, the situation is reversed. The MCU already played it’s Alpha Primitive card on ABC a few seasons back on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD where Hive and Doctor Radcliffe created a bunch of savage, ape-like, Inhuman powerhouses that they called Primitives. So between the idea of a subjugated Inhuman slave class and Radcliffe’s frothing Inhuman minions, ABC has gotten a lot of distance from the concept that began with Stan and Jack’s creation of the Alpha Primitives in Fantastic Four #47 (1966).
By the way, just to end this on a happy note, in the comics the Primitives were freed before the wedding of Crystal and Quicksilver back in Fantastic Four #150 (1974).
All this brings us to some Inhumans created in the past few years. Auran was first introduced in Inhuman #7 (2014) and was created by Charles Soule, Pepe Larraz, and Ryan Stegman. Unlike the villainous TV Auran, the comic Auran is a yellow skinned Inhuman private investigator that possesses floppy ears and the ability to hone in on any spoken word. So if she was looking for me, she would listen for the words “pizza pocket” or “Bossk” and probably have a good chance of finding me.
In the comics, Auran is a hero and a detective extraordinaire who sort of looks like a kangaroo. She has a bunch of daughters and is a really fun and heroic character so one wonders why Auran was made a generic, leather clad baddie on TV.
Yes, that is Eldrac!
And we end with the strangest Inhuman of all and one I’m delighted was included on TV. Eldrac, the sentient door was introduced in Fantastic Four #577 (2010) and was created by Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham. And yes, I said sentient door. Eldrac was once a mid-level Inhuman politician, and when he lost power he underwent terrigenesis and was transformed into a architectural being that had the power to open gateways anywhere he wishes. Yes, there are two Inhumans with teleportation powers and one is a doorway while the other is a dog. I love comics. Props to Marvel for leaning into such a wonderfully weird character in a show that kind of shies away from the more oddball elements of the Inhumans.