When a property has had as much press about its editorial delays and turnarounds as the Inhumans have had, it can be tough to separate the twisting process from the finished product. Knowing that Fraction is being replaced by Soule on "Inhuman" due to creative differences, however professionally and amiably the transition played out, has probably colored my review a bit -- so I’ll give out a caveat lector -- but it’s hard not to see some evidence of editorial confusion in "Inhumanity" #2.
Originally solicited as "Inhumanity: Medusa," this issue was retitled to represent its wider scope and better pave the way for Soule’s plans on the main Inhumans title, "Inhuman." It’s clear that Fraction’s doing some foundation-laying: things move along briskly, and a range of promising conflicts are introduced. As a whole, though, "Inhumanity" #2 feels choppy and meandering. It’s frustrating, because there are some good pieces in here, but there’s just not that much to recommend it overall. What it’s setting out could turn out cool, but I’m still missing the why. Why does this matter to me as a reader, or to these characters as people?
Medusa is ostensibly the dramatic and emotional anchor of the action, but there’s so much plot here that it’s tough to figure out what the point is. Plenty happens, but the progression from one event to the other and the relation of these events to the larger Event-with-a-capital-E aren’t laid out clearly. It may be reductive to ask, "What does it mean?" this early, but that was my biggest takeaway question. Part of that derives from a lack of emotional heft. Medusa has lost her husband, her child, and her homeworld, but I didn’t feel the emotion of that with so many other things going on. When she rises to the challenge of representing her people, the moment didn’t hit.
A portion of that blame falls on the art. Bradshaw and Nauck’s work here is not built to convey majesty. It isn’t bad, per se; Medusa’s hair is gloriously lively, and there’s one page where her hair is used to separate all the panels that I particularly enjoyed, but many of the moments fall flat. There are scenes in the script that feel like they’re meant to be weighty and triumphant, evidence of Medusa’s queenly composure and strength. Unfortunately, the style is too cartoony to carry off anything like a regal march. When Medusa seethes, "The Queen is not amused," she just doesn’t look that powerful. The colors from Fabela and Mossa don’t help, though as with the line work, it’s very likeable out of context. This is beautiful stuff; it just doesn’t seem to fit with this storyline. (In fairness to all the pencilers, inkers and colorists, though, I’m not sure what would have fit this story.)
There’s nothing to actively dislike here, but it just doesn’t work. I felt like I was reading five different pieces of six different stories, all of them solid on their own, but none of them developed enough here to make an impact. Going forward, I hope the Inhumans will have more cohesive, less tortured issues.