The Inhumans have been getting a pretty big push over at Marvel so it’s a pretty good time to check out some of their first comics. It’s mostly Fantastic Four adventures where the Inhumans just happen to be present, but I’ll take it. I’ve always found the Inhumans to be rather unnecessary, but maybe this collection could change my mind…maybe! It was a pretty good collection, but it was just lacking something.
Naturally, there are a lot of plots within this collection, but most of them are stand alone stories. We see the Frightful Four arrive to challenge the Fantastic Four on more than one occasion. Medusa is one of their members, which leads to inevitable battles with the Inhumans. (Johnny’s friendship with Crystal also complicates matters) The final part of the collection is dedicated to mini adventures with the Inhumans during the Thor comics. Thor’s part is cut out unfortunately and the stakes are noticably lower, but they’re decently fun short stories.
It should be noted that the Fantastic Four comics are typically pretty solid. They don’t tend to be quite as interesting as the other big hitters like Spider-Man, the X Men, or the Avengers, but their adventures can be pretty fun. What limits them is their small roster of 4 and the fact that they typically don’t open their ranks up to the public. So, you know what to expect in each issue and the actual story will need to be interesting to help you not mind the lack of character development. Well, this collection gives three of the members some character development due to some intriguing circumstances that change them so it’s an interesting time for the Inhumans to appear.
Mr Fantastic’s personality has definitely changed a lot during his encounters with Invisible Woman. He is typically the intelligent leader that we’ve all come to know, but he can be very testy with her. “Not now woman” is the kind of line that you can expect to hear from him. I know that this used to be something that was generally accepted back in the day, but I’m certainly glad that people don’t talk like that nowadays! There are two main reasons as to why Reed and Sue’s relationship is so strained. Reed Richards doesn’t see her as a Fantastic Four member anymore as he can only look at her as his wife and Sue keeps trying too hard to be helpful while also pulling pranks on Reed to get him to notice her. This doesn’t go very well for either of them, which causes a lot of arguments.
Both of them are to blame depending on the circumstances. Sue pretended to be dead at one point to get back at Reed and she also continues to bring up their honey moon when Reed is more worried about Johnny’s troubles and what’s going to happen to them. It doesn’t really seem like the time to think about those things. On the other hand, Reed tends to blow up at just about anything that Sue says and he continues to treat her as an underling. His orders are basically absolute and they must be followed!
Despite this, Mr Fantastic and Invisible Woman are still pretty close throughout the collection. They have their differences, but they start to work through them in their final appearances in this collection. They finally manage to go on the honey moon and they are able to keep their personal lives separate from the superhero biz. Once things are back to normal, they’re back to being good characters.
Mr Fantastic is still one of my favorite Marvel characters and he gets a lot of action in this collection. “Now you see why they call me Mr Fantastic!” is one of his big lines as he charges into powerful foes. He never backs down and he’s a very sensible leader. I dare say that he’s better at leading a team than Captain America or Cyclops! Invisible Woman is also closer to mastering her abilities in this batch and they come in handy many times. She shields the Fantastic Four from large explosions, tidal waves, and many other things. Being able to make her teammates invisible is very handy for just about any mission and her force abilities can affect any foe. She may not have realized that she’s potentially the most dangerous member of the team yet, but she’s definitely getting there.
The Human Torch can be a little annoying in this batch. This is during the time where he became distracted by Crystal and she was the only person that he would talk about. He kept on trying to shatter the barrier during a mini arc that felt like it would drag on forever with his college roommate. Teleporting from place to place was a decent plan, but it didn’t really work out very well. Reed Richards kept commenting that the Human Torch was finally a man because of this, but I wouldn’t say that the situation made the Human Torch more manly at all. He still pitched in to help whenever the need arose, but the Thing still does most of the work. Most of the villains have some excuse for why the Human Torch can’t burn them and it can be pretty sad for the guy. Technically, the Human Torch is still a pretty dangerous fighter, but he just tends to be out of his league. This was not his best appearance to say the least. (And he insulted Lockjaw, which isn’t cool)
The Thing is definitely in character since he’s constantly insulting himself and reminding the team that he is a monster. He definitely doesn’t like how he looks, but it could be a whole lot worse. Power wise, this could be the Thing’s most impressive outing. He’s able to defeat Black Bolt in a fist fight and he was also holding his own against Gorgon and Dragon Man. Whenever a strong opponent appears, you can bet that the Thing will be the last one standing. His personality can be a little too mopey for me, but he also has his moments where he can be likable so it really depends. It’s always good to see how determined he is and the Thing never goes down quickly. I like different aspects of his character while I don’t care for others. At least I can say that he’s a complex character!
Black Bolt is the legendary leader of the Inhumans and you can be sure that he’ll get a huge role in the upcoming Inhumans film. I’m not really a fan of the character and I blame the recent Fantastic Four run where things got cosmic and epic. The overall arc was great and I really enjoyed the series, but it contained all of the worst traits from Black Bolt. He was very proud and full of himself the whole time and he acted more like a villain than a hero. “It’s because he’s King” but that’s not a good enough excuse. Kings have to make the tough calls sometimes, but other characters have handled their royalty better. (Yu-Gi-Oh for example)
Luckily, this is before that era and maybe it was just that series since Black Bolt looked good in Infinity. (From what I saw) Black Bolt is a pretty heroic leader in these comics. Of course, most leaders were pretty heroic back in these days, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that Black Bolt is pretty likable here. He risks life and limb to help the Inhumans escape their (basically anyway) prison. He’s also acknowledged as one of the stronger fighters and he’s likely the strongest fighter here aside from the Thing and maybe Gorgon. (He could take out the Thing and Gorgon if he yelled though) I definitely have no qualms with him here and maybe this is a good sign for the fearless leader.
The elemental master Crystal gets a large role and hers is probably the largest aside from Medusa. I can’t say that her role was too great though. She was a little more reasonable than the Human Torch, but she gets a little too caught up in the romance of it all. She should be trying to help her comrades find an island to stay at while the humans go away. Heading for Johnny does allow her to save Mr Fantastic and play a critical role in several other dangerous situations though, so there is always a good silver lining. Unfortunately, Crystal doesn’t really get to fight that much here, but we do see that she at least has the potential to be very powerful.
Medusa gets the largest role from all of the Inhumans (arguably I suppose), but it’s mainly because her first few appearances come before the Inhumans appear. Before the Inhumans
were invented appeared, she was a member of the Frightful Four and she challenged the Fantastic Four with these allies. She always met with defeat, but the Frightful Four did give the Fantastic Four a run for their money on quite a few occasions. She eventually started to change into a nicer person and then the Inhumans arrived to claim her. By that point, any shred of toughness was basically gone since an arranged marriage was coming. Luckily, the Fantastic Four don’t let this kind of thing slide and that’s how they jumped in to fight the Inhumans. I think Medusa could have put up more of a fight when she was taken and I can’t really accept how she went from total villain to possible hero so quickly. As such, I can’t say that I’m a big fan of hers. She was better as a villain.
Maximus is the most popular Inhumans villain, but he doesn’t really have that much strength. He doesn’t even really have a super power, which is always a disadvantage in this kind of comic. He goes insane for most of the collection and his only cohesive thoughts aren’t that good. He’s as petty as a villain can be and I doubt that anyone will be rooting for him at any point. He wants to be King, but he doesn’t even know what to do when he is King. He had his chances, but he was doomed from the start. I will admit that it was a little annoying to see the Inhumans following him at the beginning of the collection. They must have thought that they had joined the Shiar for a second there! Trust me, you won’t miss Maximus when his appearances are over!
Gorgon is another Inhuman who had a decently large role in this volume and he was easily one of the better members. That’s not saying a whole lot and I definitely wouldn’t be putting him in any Top 10 Marvel character lists anytime soon, but his abilities are definitely impressive. With a single stomp he can take out a city and that probably makes him the second strongest Inhuman behind Black Bolt. His fight against the Thing was intense and it’s a shame that he didn’t really get to use his abilities after that comic. I suppose that the fights would be over a little too quickly if he got to fight.
Karnak knows advanced martial art skills and he can find the weak point in any object. Essentially, this means that the writers can have him break whatever he wants whenever he wants. He’s not very likable though and I dare say that he’s the worst member of the Inhumans. He’s seriously out of his league in every fight because he’s still a human physically. Having advanced martial arts is cool, but I’m sure that Ironfist or Spiderman could still outfight him.
Triton is the water member of the group and he’s not that powerful physically, but he’s good underwater. (Who would have guessed right?) He does have a key moment where he ends up saving Reed Richards, but he mostly spends the collection getting knocked out or just being a non factor in the fights. He’s a pretty bland character compared to the others, but I would still say that he is better than Karnak.
Blastaar is only around for a quick issue, but he is definitely a formidable opponent. He gets a whole lot of feats during his trip in the negative zone and even the Sandman is intimidated by him. The Sandman was decently good in this collection since he fears no one and he talks tough to the end, but I still prefer him in later issues. Paste Pot Pete and the Wizard are so forgettable that I don’t even need to mention them. (The Wizard will always be one of my least favorite FF villains. At least Paste Pot Pete is good in the Spiderman series.) Blastaar really gives the Fantastic Four a tough time and it’s similar to Darkseid in that the heroes seem to be outmatched. (When Superman isn’t around of course) It makes for a solid stand alone comic.
Dragon Man and Black Panther get small roles as they aid the Fantastic Four. Dragon Man is in over his head as he faces Gorgon, but his heart’s in the right place. He’s pretty heroic and he thinks that Crystal is in danger so he attacks. He definitely gets the short end of the stick here though and his ending is downright tragic. You really feel bad for the poor guy. The Black Panther gets to appear briefly for his daily page filled with hype and his wise words of wisdom. He attacks the Inhumans and he naturally overwhelms them until Black Bolt arrives. Black Panther implies that Black Bolt would give him a good fight, which made me smirk a little. I have nothing against Black Panther, but if I had to name a character that I felt was the most overhyped in Marvel…he may actually be at the top of the list! He’s still a good character though and he ends up helping out in the big battle.
Most of the villains in this collection were pretty good, but Psycho Man was definitely not one of them. I’ve always found him to be pretty dull and his arc in a recent Spiderman collection was one of the only downers to be found. He relies on his minions to fight and he really has no distinct characteristics. I really hope that he never appears in the cinematic universe and he should be fazed out. He’s just too weak to be a real threat to the Fantastic Four.
Ronan is one of the final villains to appear in this collection. I still can’t say that I find him to be too impressive in the comics, but that’s mostly because he wasn’t established as Thor level until the more modern days. That’s not to say that he doesn’t get his props here though. It’s safe to say that he could also take the Fantastic Four down depending on the circumstances and it’s heavily implied that he is much stronger than the Sentry 459. (Who gave the Fantastic Four a beating)
The Sentry 459 was a solid guardian and he actually got some character development. He technically feels no emotions, but he sure acted like he had them in his flashback with the Inhumans. He doesn’t bare any ill will towards the heroes, but they invaded his island so they have to pay the price. He’s pretty impressive looking and I wish that EMH had kept this design. (Although he still looked cool there) For a one shot villain, he makes for a nice opponent.
The artwork for the comics is pretty good. It’s what you would expect from the classic Marvel days and I always enjoyed this style. It has its advantages and while it may not look quite as sleek as some of the newer comics from the current days, you can’t underestimate the fact that it was a lot of work. No fancy computers back in those days so they drew the comics as best as they could. A good amount of work was put in and you can tell from the backgrounds and the emotions of the characters.
The fight scenes in this volume are pretty solid. They involve more strategy than the other teams because the Fantastic Four aren’t quite as powerful as the Avengers or the X Men. That being said, the Thing is always ready to slug it out and he has three really good fights against Gorgon, Black Bolt, and Dragon Man. He fights several others as well and he puts up an admirable fight against the Psycho Man. The rest of the team also get their share of action and Reed really tries to show just how powerful he can be by thinking of advanced tricks that he can perform with his stretching abilities. The action scenes definitely hold up well against the other comic book brawls that you may be used too.
There really aren’t any negatives in this collection. I guess you could say that the romance was a bit much and it could start to drag on, but it’s not as bad as it would have been if it was a modern comic. One thing that keeps this comic from getting a higher score is that there was no story that really blew me away. The fights were great and we got several story arcs, but there weren’t any moments that would make me take a step back or go high five my dog. The team fight between the Frightful Four and the Fantastic Four as well as Black Bolt vs Thing would be the highlights for the collection though. The short stories about the Inhumans were definitely a little lacking in excitement since nothing really happened in those. I would say that this could be a negative, but the mini comics are so short that they can’t really hurt and the collection Did have well over 300 pages in it so it can afford to have some moments that didn’t have action.
Overall, This was a solid collection of Marvel comics. It was really a Fantastic Four collection, but I suppose that the Inhuman mini comics as the end help it live up to the title. They don’t even appear for the first few comics, which was intriguing. I definitely recommend this to any Marvel fan who wants to be introduced to the Inhumans. If you’re a Fantastic Four fan, then you’ll definitely like this one as well. This bundle definitely has some fun issues and it’ll never get boring since the writing was really good back in those days. You won’t regret picking this title up and it takes a while to finish the volume since it’s so long. Length is always an important part of any media! This may be the last Fantastic Four adventure that I read for a while so I tried to make this one count!