This Inhumans review contains spoilers.
Inhumans Episode 5
Okay, I think we’re being trolled now. Except for Gorgon, none of the major Inhumans characters use their powers this week. Again. Okay, Lockjaw does, but Inhumans continues to paint itself into a generic action show corner as a series that should be epic continues to be a mostly ponderous, low budget exercise in wheel spinning.
Things kick off with the most unneeded romance on network TV between Karnak and his drug dealing new lady love. This story arc is just so low stakes it’s almost a joke. I mean, you have an advanced race of half-human-half-aliens in the Marvel Universe and instead of some plot involving the Kree or something suitably big, you have a story about weed dealers in Hawaii. At least we get rid of the jealous wannabe boyfriend character, but he is just replaced by equally generic ruthless drug lords. Karnak and his lady must fight off these new generic hoods. The lady gets shot, Karnak is still struggling with his powers and blah, blah.
The series could show the world how cool Kirby and Lee’s Inhumans are, particularly Karnak, but instead, we have to deal with a depowered Karnak fumbling and bumbling through a fight scene. Depowered storylines only work if viewers have experienced the hero’s abilities. Imagine if in episode 2 of Supergirl, Kara just loses her powers before fans ever got to really experience those powers up close and personal. That’s what we’re dealing with in this silly Karnak story. Yeah, he does cut a bullet in half with his hand this week which is cool, but even there Karnak’s powers are so wonky that his girl ends up just getting shot with half a bullet. And yeah, cool points for having Karnak punch the bullet out of the entrance wound, but wouldn’t it have all been better if we just got to see Karnak unleashed? Maybe do the depowered thing next season?
If Marvel used Inhumans TV logic, Iron Man 3 would have been Iron Man 1 and we would have witnessed Tony Stark fight for his life without his technology before we got to experience just how awesome that tech truly is. Even the fight scenes are just ponderous and lack energy as Karnak just kind of goes through the motions when battling the drug thugs. Scott Buck had the same issue with the fight sequences in Iron Fist. Agents of SHIELD does not have the fight scene problem so it’s kind of shocking that Inhumans does. Anyway, Karnak fights off the drug dealers, gets caught, and is saved by Gorgon which finally leads to some fun stuff. And yes, Gorgon does use his powers. I’m surprised the writers of Inhumans didn’t give Gorgon bunions or something so he would have to get by without his foot stompy powers.
The good material comes this week in the form of a Gorgon and Karnak flashback. The flashbacks allow us to witness the bond between the two Inhuman cousins. Gorgon comes off as simple and likable, but it was the first time I actually felt a palpable bond between anyone in this series. Yes, I include Black Bolt and Medusa in that statement. The flashbacks allow us to see the familial love between Gorgon and Karnak, so when Gorgon makes the save, it has meaning. Gorgon and Karnak also reunite with Black Bolt and Medusa, so thankfully it seems like the wandering around Hawaii and finding mundane little adventures that are cheap to film might be coming to an end.
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Another intriguing idea introduced this week was brought up by Maximus’ minion Locus. Locus reveals to Black Bolt and Medusa that she joined Maximus because she wanted to be a healer but her powers of echolocation forced her into the role of tracker. All this shows that there is really no free will on Attilan and makes Maximus a more sympathetic villain. I guess this reveal was all the show needs out of Locus because as soon as she got interesting, she gets shot and dies in battle with the drug dealers. Sigh.
We also have the beginnings of another romance this week that’s just as irritating as the Karnak/drug dealer liaison. Does Crystal really have time to go swimming with Hunky McAbsbutt when her kingdom and family are in deadly danger? But she does just that as the show treats us to Crystal just sitting on a beach with some shaggy haired dude named Dave while her sister and extended family might be dying somewhere. Just no. At least we got to see Lockjaw teleport Crystal and her meat stick around. Lockjaw is always great.
Not much with Black Bolt and Medusa this week, but we do get a well done scene where the queen of the Inhumans tells her husband about her forced head shaving. The victimization of Medusa adds an element of tragedy to her character, but TV fans that don’t know her from the comic are being robbed of her strength and regality. When Maximus shaved Medusa’s head in the classic Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee Marvel Knights Inhumans series, fans knew Medusa and her hair for decades. It was shocking to see the queen robbed of her Inhuman gift. On TV, fans go to see Medusa’s hair for eighteen seconds or something because CGI hair is expensive, I guess.
We also get a plot line of Dr. Evan Declan experimenting on Maximus’ fallen Inhumans and Auron waking up and threatening the doctor, Black Bolt’s Hawaiian pal being dragged around the island by Mordis, and Maximus having to face a possible insurgency on Attilan, but it really is just all going through the motions. The sad thing is, there’s a good series somewhere here. The moving Gorgon and Karnak stuff proves that. But it just seems like Scott Buck and the writers are just finding stuff for the Inhumans to do that won’t cost money. We have two weeks left, is there any chance this show lives up to the rest of Marvel’s TV output?
“Something Inhuman This Way Comes…” is the title of the trade paperback that reprints Amazing Adventures (1970) #5-10 and Avengers (1963) #95. There is a bunch of story parallels between the Inhumans run in Amazing Adventures and this here Inhumans TV series. The issues were written by Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway and the first four installments featured art by the great Neal Adams. In these issues, the Inhumans find themselves trapped on Earth because of the machinations of Maximus and must battle a number of villains including Magneto. Black Bolt was separated from his family and must find his way back to reunite and return to Attilan. Other than Magneto, you can totally see where these late Silver Age issues inspired some of the events of the earthbound Inhumans TV adventure.
There is a Locus in the Marvel Universe, but this Locus belongs to the X-Men family. Actually, there was two characters named Locus, the first appearing in Thor #302 (1980). This Locus had the power to control geothermic energy. The second Locus first appeared in first appeared in X-Force #27 (1993) and was created by Fabian Nicieza and Matt Broome This Locus had the power to teleport and was part of the Mutant Liberation Front. Neither of these character really had anything in common with the Inhuman Locus.
When Crystal was first introduced in the comics, it was as a love interest to the Human Torch. Johnny Storm and Crystal became kind of like the Romeo and Juliet of the Marvel Universe with their love becoming forbidden by both human and Inhuman. It was perfect. The romance between Dave and Crystal is supposed to be the stand-in for the Johnny Storm romance, but it really just kind of sucks. I mean, the stand-in for the Human Torch is some schmuck named Dave. Not really the same thing, huh?