Matt Fraction (Writer), Olivier Coipel, Mark Morales, Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Dustin Weaver (Artists), Israel Silva, Laura Martin (Colorists)
The Story: Karnak tells the Avengers and other guests the story behind the inhumans and what could be the possible future for this blooming species.
The Review: Launching franchises must not be particularly easy stuff. To get people invested in something that needs to be huge must be pretty challenging. Sure, most indie creators do that each time they launch a new series, but right now there must be a lot of weight on Matt Fraction’s shoulders.
Tasked with bringing forth the inhumans as a viable franchise, as a new race that can thrive in the Marvel universe as a whole is something rather big. With a track record which indicates that he might just be better at more ground-level and independent stuff, can he actually pull off a way to make these concepts and characters feel new again?
Unfortunately, it’s a mixed bag filled with elements that are executed really well, while others really aren’t. While it does leave a certain impression and does its job at bringing excitement about the new titles and some of the changes to the Marvel universe at large, there are multiple flaws in this story that makes it weaker than it needs to be.
One of the best aspects comes in the form of the pacing, with the story having a rather natural progression of events that lead to Karnak, the right hand of Black Bolt, telling the whole history of the inhuman race. The jumps made between questions and Karnak continuing his tale and his explanations are done well, leading to a story flow that becomes rather natural.
The crash course in inhuman history is also a very nice touch, bringing in new readers up to speed while dealing with the additions that Hickman introduced during Infinity, getting a concise, yet very interesting way to see the dichotomy between various factions. While the history lesson do gets rather fascinating, multiple seeds of what could become important plot points for the incoming Inhuman series. The Kree, how some see terrigenesis, how the entire world is affected and how the absence of a king might destroy inhumans are subjects that are touched upon, with most of them being intriguing to say the least.
However, not everything is good in this issue. In many instances, the dialogue is rather clunky and ineffective, leading to awkward moment or lines that feel out of place with certain characters. While the polite and clear dialogue of Karnak is a nice touch, most of the Avengers don’t get voices that match their general personality, with Bruce Banner being condescending and insensitive in the first few pages, or Hawkeye being written as a bit too aloof and unprofessional during the whole thing. There is a certain lack of courtesy shown in some moments as most characters are seen being rather demanding of Karnak, who has just seen his home and some of the people he loves gets destroyed, which unfortunately reflects in the dialogue of some characters like Captain America and Iron Man. It is not wholly bad, as most of the lines by Karnak, Medusa along with other inhumans characters are very functional, yet it is uneven in most parts.
Another flaw, a smaller one this time, is the fact that while a good lot of possible plots are teased, there isn’t much given to characters. The culmination of this tale ends in a rather tragic and somewhat quick way, with a good number of teases until the story abruptly stop in a way that is rather depressing for older fans of the inhumans as characters. It works as a reminder, it functions as a big teaser for what might be coming, but as a story it doesn’t do much on its own.
The art is more than functional, though, as Olivier Coipel and Mark Morales provides the vast majority of pages in this story, with some help from Leinil Francis Yu and Dustin Weaver along the way. Coipel here provides for a certain dynamism in his panels layout, either by using empty space rather well or by filling them out to the brim, creating a certain rhythm and difference that allows for a certain energy despite the very low amount of action found in this book. The way he is able to fit his style through heavy science-fiction and more ancient times is something to behold, as the warm, yet savage prehistoric era mesh very well with the cold and alien technology of the present times, making those two very different periods work together despite their disparity. Where he fails a bit, though, is with his facial expressions, as Coipel doesn’t show a great range of emotions here. There are occasional exaggerations here and there, but for the most part a lot of characters simply choose stoicism, which doesn’t really help the narrative in most cases. For the rest, Coipel is rather effective, though.
Yu and Weaver aren’t overly present as artists here, though, with a fewer page count than Coipel. Still, they do a fine job as their style, for the most part, don’t detract from the main story or Coipel’s own presentation. The rougher approach of Yu is there for only a couple of pages, as he shows the more ancient times throughout his work, with his style being somewhat fitting as he shows caveman and spaceships cohabiting in the same pages. Weaver, on the other hand, pinpoint the pages touching Infinity, with a certain professionalism. His style is perhaps somewhat clashing with Coipel and Yu, but he is perhaps the least present in this issue as he deals with other characters and his pages are few and far between.
For the most part, all of these styles are brought together by the work of Laura Martin, who does the colorization here. Her approach to the story, for the most part, is pretty good, as she use a very simple yet effective technique to create a separation between past and present. Using a heavy dose of warm colors in the Avengers tower scene, Martin then use either a good dose of cold colors or a much more diverse selection to then create a disconnection from the present scenes, making it easier for the readers to disassociate the rest of the issue. Despite some heavy presence of red in some pages, she is still able to provide for a certain variety, creating a filtered version of some of the more iconic color patterns of certain characters as a result. It’s a bit subtle at time, but Laura Martin is really good here.
Israel Silva, on the other hand, is a bit more diverse in his colorization, although it robs him a bit of a certain appeal as a result in this issue. He is competent and he does bring in the focus to the desired elements, yet there is no hook or greater contrasts in his work that allows readers to appreciate some of his techniques.
The Conclusion: It succeeds at bringing some excitement for the inhumans franchise, it serves as a good introduction to new readers and the art is generally good, but the lack of an actual plot and a certain problem with the dialogue makes this issue a rather uneven affair. Good, but certainly not great.
Hugo Robberts Larivière