This miniseries effectively represents the end of Marvel’s big “Inhumans” push of the last few years. The reason for such a thing was rumored to be down to how Marvel owned the film and TV rights to these characters, but didn’t have them for the X-Men, and was looking to push the Inhumans as a replacement for mutants. Whether or not that was actually true, the end result was that we got a lousy “Inhumans” TV series and a bunch of comics that didn’t inspire anything more than a collective shrug in the comics-reading audience. Now it’s up to Donny Cates and Ariel Olivetti to bring an end to this particular era of these characters.
They do this by delivering a solid enough hook at the beginning which offers a history of the Inhumans’ creation at the hands of the Kree and the latter’s current status after the destruction of their home planet. Said destruction has led the Kree to rebuild their empire, and they’ve chosen to start with a declaration to their former slaves: Join or die. In the Kree’s eyes, most are choosing the latter and the cull is being carried out by the ruthless scythe-wielding, black armor-clad Vox. Now it’s up to the Inhuman king Black Bolt to determine how far he’s willing to go in order to secure a future for his family and his people, along with which group he wants to put first.
Unlike “Thanos Wins” and “God of Magic” there’s no feeling here that Cates was given the freedom to tell whatever story he wanted within a five-issue space. He’s here to show the “Death of the Inhumans” and the end result definitely lacks the spark of those prior efforts. (Along with the one I wrote about yesterday.) It’s a straightforward slog as bad things happen to Black Bolt and his family and we’re meant to feel bad about them.
Maybe I’d feel differently if I’d read more than one of the many “Inhumans” titles released prior to this miniseries and felt more invested in the characters featured here. As it is, I’m mainly left feeling disappointed that Cates really skimps on the characterization here and I’m left trying to care about characters whose adventures only occasionally intersect with my reading interests. So I’m mainly left lamenting that the writer doesn’t really go in for the “human garbage fire” take on Karnak that Warren Ellis established for that character’s miniseries.
There’s also the fact that for a series called “Death of the Inhumans” there’s precious little death that actually matters here. I know the first issue shocked a lot of fans because of one prominent death, but that one and the other one that occurred in the issue don’t actually stick. There were plenty of other Inhuman deaths in that issue but most of them were just generic cannon fodder. When we finally get to the big climax of the miniseries and Black Bolt realizes that the Inhumans have to die, it’s an awkward mix of the metaphoric and literal that doesn’t feel like it has resolved anything. I know “Death of the Inhumans” sounds really dramatic and all, but a more accurate title would’ve been “The Mass Reduction of the Inhumans.”
Is the whole miniseries as bad as this? Of course not. There are some clever bits sprinkled here and there. Maximus’ introduction to Vox is one. So is the reveal of who the Inhumans have gone to for reinforcements at the end of the third issue. This character also supplies some welcome irreverence to counteract the dour tone of the story. I’ll also admit to liking Black Bolt’s prison break-out as his stoic nature along with the means of his escape gives it a kind of badass feel to it. So long as you’re willing to overlook the Kree’s stupidity in overlooking the ONE THING they should’ve done to safeguard themselves against the Inhuman King.
Then there’s the art from Ariel Olivetti, which is very much a mixed bag. Olivetti has abandoned the computer-enhanced look that defined his style for years, which I generally liked. This new style he’s working with is simpler, grittier and not without its own appeal. It works best in scenes where the scale is small and intimate, such as the aforementioned prison escape. Where the artist stumbles is in depicting anything that requires a sense of scale greater than that. This is most evident in the scenes where Black Bolt has to use his voice and these scenes of great drama and destruction come off like I’m watching someone play with their action figures.
You’ve probably already guessed that the main reason I picked up “Death of the Inhumans” was because of Cates’ involvement. I’ve enjoyed a lot of what he’s written, both before and after his big breakthrough to the mainstream on “God Country” and I was hoping that would be true here as well. However, this miniseries winds up being a mostly joyless slog that feels like it was commissioned to tie off the whole bloody stump that was Marvel’s attempt to make the Inhumas “a thing.” I can only hope that people who have been following the “Inhumans” comics for the past few years will get more out of this than I did.