REVIEW: Uncanny Inhumans #5

Writer: Charles Soule

Artist: Brandon Peterson

Colourist: Java Tartaglia

Release Date: 17/02/16

Publisher: Marvel Comics

QUICK REVIEW HAIKU

Broadening scope

Unsettling undertones

Much prefer this art

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This series functions far better when it focuses on the political drama gained from the regality of its titular characters. Introducing the idea of a neutral zone where all of these friends and enemies can meet is a concept that’s rife with potential narratives and it really broadens the scope of what the Inhumans are capable of as a race. With an entirely fresh art team beginning on this arc, they bring this luminescent and hectic building to the page in a way that wouldn’t have worked with the previous styles. The story is framed as a tour of the facility for the royal heir, Ahura, and what he encounters along the way is a tease for what’s to come in this arc.

Before I get any further into this review, the fresh-faced characters introduced by Soule and Peterson take this book to another level. Introducing the rolling wave of terrigen mists around the world was a masterstroke of genius; it allows the gradual introduction of new and interesting characters in totally believable ways. Ahura’s companion, Flagman, looks so magnificently slimy that he works as the perfect guide through this story. The face and body language that Peterson gives him starts to form a character that puts you on edge; this contrasts beautifully with the bright and varied colours from Tartaglia to destroy any confidence you have in the content of his character.

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There’s one character in particular that only makes an appearance on one page, quickly named Fantomelle, that seems to have an important role in the upcoming game. She’s portrayed with such confidence in her capabilities and unrivalled enthusiasm that it’s infectious. In a world where everyone appears to love the melodrama, taking me right along with them, she’s a breath of fresh air. Clayton Cowles uses lettering for her that I don’t think I’ve seen in a comic before; it implies a form of telepathy, but somehow feels more technological. Peterson and Tartaglia’s design for her also makes her stand out from the crowd with an aesthetic of an established cat-burglar, but is instead covered in white and yellow. All of this comes together to create a character that makes an enormous impression is such a small space of time that it’s astounding.

Soule writes such smooth dialogue that, as we continue to flash around this broadly defined location, it gives the impression that we’re getting a brief glimpse into a conversation that was already happening. Peterson’s relaxed body language compounds this feeling and creates a world that feels three-dimensional. All of the tension throughout the story is palpable and you’re constantly trying to pinpoint the weak point in the structure before everything overflows; eventually releasing this build-up in an extraordinarily cathartic way, this issue would work magnificently as a one-shot. The scope of what the Inhumans are capable of has expanded, and the scale of future stories has been seeded effectively, so you would now be able to move right back into the ongoing story.

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Even though this is a definitively a quieter issue and the amount of fighting is kept to a minimum, the art keeps it vibrant and exciting. There’s never any doubt that you’re getting a tour around a lively and populated club and even the pages full of talking heads are positioned in a way that prevents them from feeling stale. Body language and lingering glances between Medusa and her estranged husband show that however much they insist to the contrary, it’s never going to be over between them. Building on the past of the characters, it’s clear that they simply understand each other in ways that nobody else will.

This issue ties back into the past of this magnificent royal family and what they’ve been through, while bringing forward everything that Soule wants to play with in the future. Reminiscing on the previous Inhuman series is something that I’m always happy to do, so it’s great to see consequences from it book carry forward into this current ongoing. As much as I loved McNiven’s pencils on the previous arc, there was something slightly lacking in the colour pallet that prevented me from getting enveloped by the series as a whole. This art team has been brought on at exactly the right time and are working magnificently with Soule to add an extra layer to a team that’s only just starting to come together; everything about this issue pushes forward their place in the Marvel universe and that’s absolutely fine with me.

FINAL SCORE: 9/10

1794510_10152296358040871_1273862368_n Written by Mark Dickson

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