Note: The following commentary features some material from my original review of the series (which also is my first review for Comic-Watch!)
The Inhumans The Complete Series
Airdate Sept. 29, 2017 – November 10, 2017
Created by Scott Buck
Production Company ABC Studios and Marvel Television
The Inhumans was Marvel Television’s second TV series and was the first show to get an IMAX release in the theaters. So, what went wrong?
Marvel’s Inhumans made their comic book debut in Fantastic Four #45 (Dec 1965) although Medusa first appeared as a member of the Frightful Four in issue #36. The Inhuman’s home, Attilan, was mentioned much earlier, in a Tuk The Caveboy story by Jack Kirby in Captain America Comics #1 (March 1941). The Inhuman Royal Family consists of King Black Bolt whose slightest whisper can level a city, Queen Medusa who can control her hair down to a single strand, Princess Crystal, Medusa’s sister and an elemental, cousins Karnak the Shatterer who can find the weakness in anything, Gorgon (pronounced “Gor-Gone”) whose hooved feet can produce earthquakes and Triton a green scaled fish-like creature. They are joined by Crystals pet, Lockjaw, a dog the size of a horse who slobbers a lot and can teleport people.
In what turned out to be a bad move, Marvel released the first 2 episodes of The Inhumans to theatres in IMAX three weeks before the television premier which may have guaranteed low ratings for the tv debut. It also received scathing reviews from the critics and fans alike. So let’s look at the series and try to answer that question of “What went wrong?”.
The story, as with many of the Inhuman’s comic book tales, is one of brother vs brother, King Black Bolt vs his brother Maximus The Mad. Via flashbacks it is shown that Black Bolt was chosen over Maximus to be the leader of their people because Max exited the Terrigen Mist Chamber with no abilities…the Inhuman had become just human. Further flashbacks also reveal the fatal encounter that left the brothers’ parents dead. The first hour opens on the island of Oahu as a girl is being pursued by men with machine guns. As she hides out in a tree, she hears some heavy breathing and turns around to come face to face with the green-skinned amphibious Inhuman, Triton who tells her she has been transformed into an Inhuman (due to the Terrigenesis event that played out on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series). As the machine gun fire draws closer, the two of them take off. The girl gets shot and dies. Triton makes a run for it only to be caught in a hail of bullets and plunges off a cliff into the sea below which turns blood red. Fishy Triton has gone to sleep with the fishes. So sad.
Cut to naked Medusa and Black Bolt playing 50 Shades of Red (so naughty!) blanketed in Medusa’s red tresses. King Black Bolt and Queen Medusa step out on the balcony (clothed!) and look out over their city of Attilan (pronounced “At-till-lan”) which is *gasp*…on the moon!!!
Back on Earth in California at the Callisto Space Center, scientists are watching video from their moon rover on the moon. Rover then gets smashed by…a hoof? Scientists say “WTF?”.
Back on the moon in Attilan, the Royal Family gathers for a Terrigenesis Ceremony for a teen boy and girl. Smart-Ass Karnak explains “Terrigenesis” for the home viewing audience then coldly explains none of it ultimately matters because one day the universe will fall into a black hole and no more universe. What a pessimist!
Medusa’s little sister, Princess Crystal who for some reason has a big black road stripe circling her hair like a crop circle (what is it with these sisters and their hair?!) is late for the ceremony and calls her puppy Lockjaw to teleport her to the event. And yes, comic aficionados, he has a little glowing antenna, just look for it, people! The Terrigen Chambers open up and the girl steps out with a beautiful pair of wings while the boy steps out with apparently no change. If Boy (Bronaja) doesn’t develop powers he will be shipped off to the mines. Oh no!
At the Royal Family dinner, Karnak hits on a servant, “2 1/2 days… the first day I’d be captivated by your beauty, oh the fun we would have. The second day it would start to bother me that you’re a servant. I’d discover your dependency and that you chew with your mouth open and I’d want to kill you by afternoon”. Wow, what a Romeo. Mad Max enters and tells everyone Triton is dead. Sighs and tears. Lockjaw teleports Gorgon to The Island to look for Triton. Mad Max disses King BB and hits on Queen Medusa who tries to strangle him with her hair. You go, girl!
Bronaja gets his power which is seeing the future. No mines, yay! Mad Max uses Bronaja’s visions of the future and rallies the citizens of Attilan against the Royal Family and their society’s caste system. With a full-fledged coup underway by Maximus, the Royals are forced to flee Attilan. To the tune of “Paint It Black”, Lockjaw teleports Karnak to Oahu as Mad Max shaves Medusa’s hair off. Holy Rapunzel! Lockjaw returns and teleports Medusa to Honolulu then comes back and teleports Black Bolt to the middle of a busy Honolulu intersection. Inhuman’s best friend! End part one.
The series continues with the Royal Family separated from each other and scattered throughout Hawaii. They are also, except for GorGone, cut off from their powers as Black Bolt must refrain from using his destructive vocal abilities, Medusa, now looking like a red headed Sinead O’Connor, is literally cut off from hers, Karnak, who can see the weakness in anything but is unable to judge the instability of a rock he is standing on and tumbles down a cliff bumping his head on his way down and Lockjaw is sedated and locked away in a chamber back in Attilan while Crystal gets sent to her room to pout. Mad Max sends an Inhuman hit squad to Earth to find and wipe out his beloved relatives led by a woman named Auran who can die and resurrect herself. Very convenient! Also part of the hit squad is Flora who controls plant life and Mortis who shoots powerful destructive beams from his eyes. *cough* Cyclops *cough*. Also in pursuit, the ditzy blonde scientist from the Callisto Space Center who is determined to prove that, dammit, she did see a hoof smash the Lunar Probe! Later, Henry Ian Cusick joins the mix as a doctor who is unknowingly helping Mad Max with his coup. Henry is no stranger to the lush Hawaiian locales, having spent 5 seasons trying to escape them in the series Lost. Then Desmond returns to the hatch to press the button, no, wait, wrong show. Back to Inhumans.
And the silliness of the storyline just spirals uncontrollably from there as Black Bolt is arrested and sent to jail where he just happens to run into another Earth-born Inhuman named Sammy and the two of them seemingly just walk out of prison while Medusa tries to talk an ATM machine into giving her money. Gorgon meets up with some surfer dudes who help him battle Max’s machine gun toting goons while Max continues his tirade on the moon over his parents not choosing him as King. When Lockjaw wakes up, Crystal takes advantage and has the pooch teleport her to Earth to find her family. But once arriving, Lockjaw is again taken out of action when a hunky blond motorcyclist runs him over. Crystal seems more concerned with making goo-goo eyes at the cyclist than taking care of her dog but luckily (not so) Easy Rider conveniently has an ex-girlfriend who is a veterinarian. Meanwhile, Karnak crosses the dangerous path of a trio of cannabis farmers and goes from Smart Ass to Sexy Beast when he gets it on with the female pot grower in one of the most awkward sex scenes of the television season. When Ditzy Scientist Girl catches up with Medusa they become BFFs and she helps Medusa reunite with Black Bolt. Then they catch up with Crystal, deal with a jealous vet and move on to collect Karnak and Gorgon.
In a final battle with Auran and Mordis, Gorgon makes the ultimate sacrifice and is killed protecting the others. Triton AND Gorgon dead? Say it isn’t so! “It isn’t so”. Upon returning to Attilan with the fallen Gorgon, the Royal Family is reunited with Triton who obviously didn’t die in his plunge from the cliff. We see him with his shirt off and he’s…just green. No scales, no fishiness, just a teeny weeny fin like mohawk on his head. Karnak then goes about resuscitating Gorgon by putting him through another Terrigenesis. But he emerges different, all angry and growly….sort of like the Hulk but not green (or scaly either). Black Bolt and kin finally go after Mad Max but his messing with the dome that protects Attilan on the moon begins to crack so all 1400 Inhuman residents must now be relocated to Earth.
By a couple of episodes in, a second season of The Inhumans seemed impossible. I was very optimistic about the show at the beginning of the first episode, from the opening credits to seeing the Terrigen Chambers from the comic book to the use of actual titles from the Fantastic Four stories featuring the Inhumans for episode titles. We had cool heroes with cool names and some of them even had cool costumes at least till they got to Earth. It was almost as if this show was being made by people who knew and enjoyed the comic book. “Almost” being the operative word. Then it seemed that the Powers That Be were hellbent on destroying the series. “Killing” Triton right off the bat and then leaving him out till the end. And while we’re on Triton…couldn’t they have hired someone from Face-Off to give him a proper makeup job? Green skin. That’s all we got. And a little ridge on his head. How is anyone unfamiliar with the comic supposed to know this guy is amphibious? You can surmise that Triton is one of my favorite Inhumans. Black Bolt’s ability to fly…gone. Then the Producers, fresh off their shearing spree on Thor Ragnarok take the clippers to Medusa, arguably the most popular Inhuman of them all. One little B & D scene with Black Bolt and an encounter with Maximus then pfft! Her powers are taken away for the rest of the series! And if taking away their powers wasn’t enough, the family is scattered across Hawaii for 75% of the series. Oh yes, the creators of this show had only one intention and that was to destroy the Inhumans and leave them in such a condition no one would want to see them again. What the hell happened behind the closed doors of Marvel Studios? How did The Inhumans go from a planned motion picture to a sloppy tv mini-series with its characters castrated? That’s a question we may never get answered. I had hoped the Royal Family would pop up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with their powers restored to their original glory but they just didn’t bother to bring them back at all.
Now, with a very welcome cameo for Black Bolt (still played by Anson Mount) in Dr Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness there is renewed interest in The Inhumans. While, officially, the Inhumans do not exist in the main MCU Universe outside of Dr Strange’s trip through the Multiverse, the Inhumans should be featured to some extent in next month’s Disney+ series Ms Marvel unless they plan on giving Kamala Khan a completely new and made up origin (which would not be a first). We already know that Kevin Feige has changed her powers so as not to conflict with Mr Fantastic when the Fantastic Four finally make an appearance in their own movie.
I still maintain that 2017’s Inhumans series wasn’t totally bad, the writing, which saw all of the characters powers taken away (shame on them for cutting off Medusa’s hair after 15 minutes!), was right there the downfall of the series and someone behind the scenes should have stopped production on the show right there. People do not want to tune into a super hero show where the “super” has been eliminated. I hope we get to see these characters again in the spotlight one day–maybe in a Fantastic Four film/sequel. Until then, it was certainly a great moment for comic fans to see Black Bolt in his costume at least for a few minutes.
Behold! The Inhumans!
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