Superhero comics are weird. Over a month ago, writer Matt Fraction and artist Oliver Coipel brought us Inhumanity #1, a one-shot—or so it was called at the time—that kicked off Marvel’s latest crossover “event” while also serving as a prelude to an upcoming new series called Inhuman (notice the lack of “ity”), which would have been written by Fraction with art by Joe Madureira.
Then, after Inhuman’s release date was delayed, it turned out that Fraction had been conflicting with Marvel over the direction he was taking with that series, so the reigns were handed over to Charles Soule, who already appears to be writing about one tenth of all the superhero comics currently on the stands. But Matt Fraction is back once more, this time with Nick Bradshaw on pencils, to bring us Inhumanity #2, which had previously been advertised as Inhumanity: Medusa. ANYWAAAAAY… is it good?
Inhumanity #2 (Marvel Comics)
It’s difficult to ignore the specter of editorial oversight that permeates throughout the pages of Inhumanity #2, but I tried my best to read it from the perspective of someone that was unaware of the events surrounding the production of this comic. I didn’t love Inhumanity #1 — it was too heavy on exposition, and the plot felt convoluted — but I liked it well enough to want to see where it would go next. The premise was intriguing, and Fraction has been doing such good work lately on Hawkeye and Sex Criminals that it stands to reason that he would pick up the pace eventually.
Unfortunately, Inhumanity #2 fails to satisfyingly build upon the promise of its predecessor. It’s still far too expository, and while its plot may have become easier to follow, it’s also more conventional and far less interesting. On paper, it definitely should have been interesting, because it follows Medusa (the Marvel Comics character, not the Greek mythological creature) as she mourns the death of her husband, Black Bolt, and the fall of her city, Attilan, all while trying to make her next move as to defend her people as queen of the Inhumans. This should have been tense and foreboding. Instead, it meanders along without any significant sense of urgency.
Much of the blame here must go to artist Nick Bradshaw (with assists from Todd Nauck), which feels strange to say considering how much I like his work in Wolverine and the X-Men. His clean lines, expressive characters, and generous detail made him a perfect fit for the over-the-top action and goofy humor that defines that series under Jason Aaron’s pen. Frankly, Bradshaw’s name was my primary motivation for picking up Inhumanity #2, but it soon became apparent that this story is not well-suited to his talents. Make no mistake, the pages still look fantastic, but the cuteness betrays the melancholy tone of Fraction’s writing. Part of me wishes that colorists Antonio Fabela and Andres Mossa would have muted their color palettes a little to better suit the atmosphere that Fraction was trying to establish, but then that still may not have worked with Bradshaw’s pencils.
Inhumanity #2 isn’t a terrible comic, but at best it’s a missed opportunity. Matt Fraction seemed to have everything he needed to make a great comic: great artists, great ideas, and a great deal of talent. One can’t help but wonder how things may have turned out had Marvel given him greater freedom.
Is It Good?
Not really. Hopefully, with the help of Joe Madureira, Charles Soule will be able to turn things around when he begins Inhuman in the coming months.
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