Shelby: Serialized media has it’s pros and cons. I rather like having to wait a bit between installments; as long as the wait isn’t too long, and I know when I’m going to get my next chunk of the story, that waiting period adds delicious tension to the tale. I think it also makes things more special, having to wait for them; anticipation can definitely make things sweeter. But, like everything, there’s a downside to dragging a story out over months; when the reader wonders, “wait, is this still happening?” when we’re only on issue 2 of the book, you know there’s a problem.
Dante and his sister Gabriela have been taken to New Attilan by Medusa. The queen explains a bit of what’s happening, and then Dante is taken away by Gorgon for a little training on how to not set everything on fire all the time. Cap shows up to offer his and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s help in picking up the pieces of Attilan, dealing with the new Inhumans (read: Nuhumans), etc. Medusa somehow says she doesn’t have the resources to do it all, doesn’t want any help, and accepts his help all in just a few pages. They head to Central Park, where A.I.M. is trying to claim what turns out to basically be a busted-up piece of Attilan ductwork. Medusa takes care of the situation.
Cap asks why she would fight so hard for a worthless piece of salvage, and she answers very simply, “It is Attilan.” Later, a mysterious, smooth-talking Inhuman by the name of Lineage shows up requesting an audience. He claims to “know everything” and proceeds to tell Medusa, Queen of the Inhumans, that she is totally fucking it all up.
I wasn’t exaggerating in the intro when I said I felt that this story is already being d-r-a-g-g-e-d out, but in reading through it again I think I honed in on the problem a little bit more. Not only has it been nearly two months since the last issue, both issues 1 and 2 of Inhuman re-cover a lot of what has been covered already in the Inhumanity event and Inhumanity prequel issues. We’re still talking about Attilan recovery, Cap is still worried about what Medusa is going to do about things, Medusa is still unwilling to accept help (except when she did here). We’re getting somewhere with Dante, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of his training, but otherwise I feel like this story is on a treadmill.
It wasn’t until the end of the issue we finally saw some forward momentum with Medusa’s announcement to the world. I was struck by how arrogant her message was. She says the Inhumans want to live amongst us regular folk in peace, but goes on to say that the piece of land she’s claimed is sovereign territory, and those who show up uninvited will face the consequences. She tells the Nuhumans that New Attilan is a sanctuary for them, and reminds the rest of the world that the Inhumans are a force to be reckoned with. It’s a strangely contradictory message of peace and threats, I’m not sure what to make of it. I haven’t quite got a handle on where Charles Soule is going with Medusa; she showed the same contradictory behavior when she was talking to Cap. She finds herself in a tricky, complicated situation, and I completely see both sides of what she’s saying; she needs to appear strong to lead her fallen and scattered people, but because they’re fallen and scattered she needs outside help to do it, which makes her look weak, etc. I understand the difficulty of the decision she’s in, but it’s frustrating to me that she appears so wishy-washy in her decision-making. Maybe that’s the direction Soule is taking this story; by putting Medusa in a lose-lose situation to see how she can make the best out of it. At this point, I’m just kind of frustrated with her going back and forth between impotency and arrogance.
There is some fun stuff in this issue, however. I still have some problems with how much Medusa’s ass and tits are featured by artist Jose Madureira, but I can’t deny loving the way her hair dominates every panel she’s in.
I think my favorite part of the issue, though, has got to be Dante bonding with Gorgon the trainer over heavy metal. Gorgon grounds the scene by talking to Dante about something normal, something he can relate to. The kid is in a tank of water in a lab because he can’t stop bursting into flames, and Gorgon manages to diffuse that weirdness enough to then explain the weirdness to Dante. It’s the little character moments like this that make me enjoy Soule’s writing so much; he has a way with applying a layer of reality as we understand it to these fantasy situations. Patrick, what did you think of this chapter of Inhumans? Did you find it really satisfying to watch Medusa step in and kick some royal ass?
Patrick: I did find that tremendously satisfying. I’m most used to reading Medusa in Matt Fraction and Michael Allred’s FF, and that series, for all its strengths, never put much weight behind the action. Medusa would mess some dudes up with her hair, but the physicality of it was mostly lost to the joke of a hero fighting with her hair. Under Madureia’s pencil, her follicle tendrils feel muscly, matching the strength projected by Cap, even as he holds his indestructible vibranium shield at his side.
Unfortunately, I do think Shelby’s 100% right about Soule’s voice for Medusa — it’s either not very well developed or she’s just developed as an intentionally wishy-washy character. She’s got that kind of tone-deaf fish-out-of-water quality I see in all my least favorite renditions of Wonder Woman. I am certain that I’m being overly critical of the character — partially because she’s a strong female character, and I love seeing well-developed female characters, but also because she is the most accessible link to what Inhumans are and what global terrigenesis might mean. If the queen of these guys is unknowable, that puts a huge distance between me and the rest of the Inhumans. That’s why Xavier and Magneto are such charismatic figures: their clear perspectives give a relatable lens through which to view the whole “mutant issue.” We don’t have an Inhuman Xavier yet, representing a peaceful integration into human society, nor do we have an Inhuman Magneto, representing a rejection of that integration. Medusa’s left to fill both roles simultaneously, which makes Dante’s role in this all the more confusing.
And Dante was my favorite part of that first issue: he so effortlessly occupied the highly specific space of “Latino musician from suburban Chicago.” Check your comic book character archetype charts, that one’s not on there, but hot damn did we learn a lot of interesting things about the guy very quickly. In fact, when we compare our discoveries about Dante to the rate at which we’re allowed to discover things about the Inhumans, it’s clear that the clarity with which Soule draws Dante is something special. We don’t get a lot of that here — aside from a few reminders that he’s committed to taking care of his family, and a weird suggestion that he has an aptitude for controlling his powers, Dante’s an object, and not a subject.
While I do generally agree with Shelby about the way Madureia draws Medusa, I’m not sure that his style specific targets one gender over the other. There might even be something inherently sexual about the Inhumans that Madureia is trying to express. Dante’s looking pretty trim in that water tank, with bulge and butt lovingly articulated in opposite panels.
It’s not even the standard male power fantasy: sure, he’s fit, but his frame is dwarfed by Gorgon on this page and by Captain America elsewhere. I went flipping back through the book with this in mind and realized that we also get a gratuitous crotch shot of Lineage as he’s looking about as sexy as a spikey-headed demon man could possibly look… which is to say: in a perfectly fitting suit.
Now, I understand full well that this is not how representation or marginalization work, but I’m starting to feel that the series’ themes of rebirth and self-discovery are being aided by reproductive imagery. Mind you, Medusa’s boobs still look silly in her costume, so maybe I’m full of shit.
Shelby’s opening paragraph made me laugh out loud, because she’s totally right, of course. For as big of an event as Inhumanity is supposed to be, it looks like it’s been sentenced to simmer in the background as the rest of the Marvel line moves on to other stories. Indeed, with the exception of Ms. Marvel (on sale now!), this is the only series really dealing with the Inhumans right now. Not that the release schedule is giving me much of a choice, but I am deciding to be patient with this one. It’ll be quietly developing in the background as everyone else is enthralled with Original Sin (also on sale now) and Axis, so when it does finally move into a place of prominence, it’ll be some kind of something.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?