Friday, August 30, 2013

The Inhumans and Jack King Kirby

Jack Kirby's birthday was last Wednesday, which I missed, but here's a little tribute to him featuring my favorite group of outcasts (second only to the X-Men), the Inhumans!  I found a few of these images while research Marvel's history of splash pages.

Amazing Adventures 1 1970 Inhumans splash by Jack Kirby

In 1970, right before he left to do the Fourth World series at DC Comics, Stan Lee gave Kirby the opportunity to write and draw the Inhumans.  Pretty cool, right?  Only 1 problem: it was in Amazing Adventures #1 (where the above splash page was taken from) and it was a split book, shared with the Black Widow.  Jeph Loeb often comments on how miscast these two features were -- the Widow goes with the Inhumans like Peanut Butter and anchovies.  Imagine if this had been Inhumans #1, what a collectors item this book would have been!  Instead it is a footnote to Kirby's waning days at Marvel.

Fantastic Four 83 Inhumans splash page 1969

Fantastic Four #83 (1969) featured this dynamic splash page of the Inhumans racing off to stop Mad Maximus once again.  Now here's one thing about this team that I love.  They are all so individually stylized and so different from one another.  It's hard to get them all in the same frame doing something as a team!  I think Kirby pulled it off well here, but the splash from AA #1 is a bit better.

Fantastic Four 99 Inhumans splash 1970 Kirby

This splash from FF #99 (also in 1970) features one of those royal court settings with the Inhumans -- something you see over and over when the Inhumans make appearances in modern comics but never executed as well as this splash page.  Triton with his green scaly visage makes a big impression and so does Medusa (va-va-voom) standing protectively on the right in front of her sister Crystal.  This was the issue where Johnny Storm realized he would be apart from his favorite elemental girlfriend.

I've always wondered why the Inhumans were never popular enough to survive in their own series.  Certainly their powers and costumes were even more dynamic than the X-Men.  However, probably what made the X-Men successful was the conflict and the dynamic within the team: the love triangle between Scott/Jean/Warren, the banter between Hank & Bobby, the angst of crippled Professor Xavier.  What's the conflict between the members of the Inhumans?  Except for Maximus, there is none.  Roy Thomas added a good bit to Black Bolt's history when he revealed that using his powers at an early age may have driven his brother insane.  It was interesting to read that Matt Fraction will be writing a new Inhumans comic and there will be a big event tied to that.  Nuff Said!

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