The Inhumans, a hidden race of super-powered men and women, were co-created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. They made their first appearance as a group/team in FANTASTIC FOUR #45, December 1965, although a couple of the characters had previously appeared in the title. First, Medusa was a charter member of the super-villain team The Frightful Four, which included The Wizard, The Trapster (formerly Paste-Pot Pete, I kid you not!) and The Sandman. That was in FF #36 in March, 1965. Then Gorgon, he of the hoofed feet, debuted in FF #44, a month prior to the introduction of the rest of the Inhumans members.
There was the regal Black Bolt, whose merest whisper could destroy mountains, Medusa, his queen with her living hair, Karnak (no, not the Johnny Carson character), a karate master who could find the weakest point of any object and shatter it with one blow, Gorgon, who's cloven hooves could cause earthquakes when stamped upon the ground, Triton, the amphibious Inhuman, and Crystal, who controlled the elements and was the object of Johnny (The Human Torch) Storm's affection. The whole gang is pictured above as they appeared on the splash page of their first solo series which premiered in AMAZING ADVENTURES #1 August, 1970. There were two other key members of the Inhumans. Maximus the Mad, Black Bolt's insane, evil brother who reared his ugly head from time to time in various attempts to overthrow Bolt and conquer Attilan (the Inhumans hidden city) and Lockjaw, a gigantic bulldog able to teleport himself and others across vast distances.
These eight characters formed the core of The Inhumans and it's those characters for which I have the most affection and affinity for. The Inhumans have appeared in dozens of Marvel Comics over the years and I have absolutely no idea what the current iteration or status of these characters are in the Marvel Universe as it currently stands. I'm sure changes have been made and will continue to be made. There's also an INHUMANS film on the production schedule for Marvel Films and it remains to be seen which of these original characters (if any), will be depicted in that film.
Yesterday, I pulled out from one of my long boxes and read for the first time THE INHUMANS #1-4, a mini-series published in the summer of 2000. It was a very good read.
All of the regular players are here (except for Lockjaw). The Thing and Human Torch make a guest appearance as does Crystal and her husband Pietro (aka Quicksilver). The main bad guy is Ronan the Accuser of the alien race The Kree (he was in the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY film). There's star-spanning battle and intrigue aplenty in a story which finds the royal family forced to serve as pawns for Ronan in his plot to start an interplanetary civil war. We get to see the Shi'ar alien race, represented by Majestrix Lilandra and her Imperial Guard (Marvel's doppelgangers of DC's The Legion of Super-Heroes). The action is fast and furious and there's a major plot twist in the last issue. If George Lucas directed a Marvel Comics movie it would look like this.
What sets this mini-series apart is the story by Carlos Pacheco and Rafael Marin and the fantastic art by Ladronn Studio. Imagine Jack Kirby's pencils inked by Moebius (Jean Giraud) and you'll have some idea of how great this hyper-detailed artwork is. The only problem, and it's a big one, is that many of the panels are small and tight making the artwork cramped and hard to see. The muddy, dark coloring job (also by Ladronn Studio), doesn't help either. There are a few full page splashes but in general, the art is small and dark in a story that screams for the wide screen, four color brilliance of Kirby's '60s work.
Make no mistake. The artwork is stunning. I just wish I could see it in a larger, cleaner format. As it is, THE INHUMANS (2000) #1-4 is a good little self-contained series that is worth digging through the bargain bins at your local comics shop for. Thumbs up.