Today, Shelby and Ethan are discussing Inhumanity 2, originally released January 29th, 2013.
Death is lighter than a feather. Duty, heavier than a mountain.
Shienaran proverb, The Wheel of Time
With great power, comes great responsibility.
Ben Parker, Spider-Man
Medusa, Queen of the Inhumans, is awaken from a dream of Attilan by a vision of a skull. It’s an appropriate way to start her day, as Captain America is waiting for her. Pieces of her city and it’s technology are scattered about Manhattan, a ton of Inhumans are missing, and people who thought they were regular humans are transforming into pods and coming out with super powers. Other humans are taking advantage, stealing pods to control, experiment on, etc. Humans and Inhumans alike are trying to use the situation to grab as much power for themselves as they can. Cap’s got a simple question: What is Medusa going to do about it?
Medusa and some members of her court descend upon a warehouse where pods are being stored for future experimentation. She tells one of the workers there that, “…we all crawled from the same caves…and some of us found our way to a throne…the queen is not amused.”
I always liked Medusa in FF. Matt Fraction writes her with this great balance of royal privilege and practical strength. The issue opens with her attendants rushing to her side, but she never shows a sense of entitlement to that treatment. She is the queen; she is pampered in a way that is deserving of her station, but at the same time that station and power comes with responsibilities. Her people (old and new) need her, and she has to do what she has to do to lead them. The last two pages of this book are absolutely my favorites, because they perfectly juxtapose the two sides of Medusa. First, we see her in full-on badass mode. She tells a man that she is the fucking Queen of the Inhumans, and that she will not hesitate to use lethal force to protect her people. Artist Nick Bradshaw even gives us a panel of Gorgon commenting that THAT is a queen, THAT is a woman worth fighting for.
But immediately after that, we see Medusa in bed, crying as she holds a locket with pictures of Black Bolt and Ahura.
This is the balance Medusa has to maintain, the balance I felt from her in FF. She’s the queen of some of the most powerful beings on Earth, but she’s also a wife and mother who lost her husband and child. If I were her, you couldn’t get me out of bed, and yet she knows she has to. I love seeing her try to figure out how to provide her people with the leadership they need while she mourns the death of her family. I didn’t read any of Infinity, and while I find the whole terrigenesis/new Inhumans/power imbalance thing intriguing, it’s Medusa herself that I feel most connected to this issue, and Fraction delivers with nice moments like these.
I really feel like the cover of the issue tells the whole story. Medusa is trying to lift some massively heavy burden; tears stream down her face as she strains to shoulder the weight. When I first picked up the book, I assumed it was literal; I figured there would be some devastating fight that Medusa would have to climb her way out of. Now, though, I see it as the weight of her responsibilities as leader of the Inhumans, and the extra weight of her grief. I honestly think it’s a much more devastating interpretation. Ethan, what did you think?
Ethan: I definitely enjoyed spending more time with Medusa in this issue, after seeing her in FF. That title cultivated a dense garden of Weird barely contained within the walls of Whimsy, so a character with prehensile, almost sentient hair was a perfect fit. Medusa is clearly more than what merely meets the eye, but fact is, she’s got crazy hair. When you’re portraying this character, you can either write it off as a kind of Art Deco visual garnish, or you can embrace it and integrate it into the core of the character. Bradshaw doesn’t waste any time at addressing this most obvious part of the Queen.
Think about it – if you had yards and yards of smart-hair, why would you ever limit yourself to using just two hands? The glimpse of Medusa effortlessly “handling” her hot tea a during her morning routine is a fantastic way to acknowledge one of the things that makes this character fun, and no one had to get punched or strangled to do it.
Physical appearance / superpower aside, Medusa’s definitely got her hands full, Shelby, as you’ve already pointed out. The one thing that’s popped up on her to-do list that caught my eye was the brief reappearance of The Unspoken – Black Bolt’s predecessor, the man who sat on the throne of the Inhumans before the current royal family we all know and love rose to power. This guy is one of the more iconic foes of the Inhumans: when the monarchy is as central to your civilization as it is for the Inhumans, the old, bad ones tend to stick in cultural memory. That is, unless the following king orders your name to be struck from history – hence, “The Unspoken.” Bit of an authoritarian, Phaoronic kind of thing for Black Bolt to do, really, but hey, kings are extreme like that.
In any case, it makes sense that The Unspoken has showed up now that his former subjects are in the spotlight, and as he points out, with Black Bolt out of the way, things should get interesting this time around. There’s the little detail about The Unspoken having been zapped with a Super-Fast-Aging-Ray last time we saw him, and now he’s looking rather spry. Maybe we’ll find out more about that, or maybe it’ll just be one of those superhero story details that gets swept under the rug. I can’t say I was really impressed with his introduction in this issue, though – if I hadn’t known better, I would have thought he was some kind of opportunist, C-list villain pouncing on some Inhuman pods to make a quick buck. Much less pomp and fanfare than, for example, Thanos. Was this because there wasn’t enough space to do it properly in this issue, or is his brief cameo a sign that he’s not really that big of a threat – after all these years out of the public eye, has he fallen to C-list villain status? One thing’s for sure: this issue did a great job of raising questions, and I’m looking forward to the next installment.
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