The Inhumans have by and large replaced mutants in the Marvel Universe. From being major plot points in comics events like Infinity and Civil War II to propelling the last two seasons of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Inhumans are the big new thing, and now the animated Avengers have got them. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “Inhumans Among Us.”
First things first, we should probably talk about the Avengers Assemble news coming out of the San Diego Comic-Con this weekend. The upcoming fourth season of this series will be subtitled “Secret Wars,” just as this season has been subtitled “Ultron Revolution.” Bleeding Cool had the news first here, and it may make many folks happy.
Breaking with tradition, Avengers: Secret Wars will feature several new members in the team while most of the original team has gone missing. Among these new Avengers will be the returning Ant-Man, favorites from the comics Captain Marvel, the Vision, the Wasp, and the Black Panther, and also Ms. Marvel and Jane Foster as Thor. A few of these newbies might be making their first appearances this season as well. And despite my questions in my review of the season finale of Guardians of the Galaxy, the Avengers may be crossing paths with that team in the future as well.
We’ve talked about this before, but the fact still stands, and the rift has gotten wider. Because Fox owns the film rights to the X-Men and thereby, believe it or not, the word “mutant,” a mainstay of the Marvel Comics Universe cannot be used in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even though the battle lines have been mended with Sony over the rights to Spider-Man, allowing the character’s use in Captain America: Civil War, the war for the X-Men with Fox has only become more vicious.
Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are no longer mutants in the comics or the MCU, and there is nearly no mention of the X-Men and mutants in the Marvel Animated Universe, and as noted in this review’s intro, they are being replaced by Inhumans. They are all over the place in the comics, in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., even the aforementioned Guardians of the Galaxy animated series, and now they have come to the Avengers. They’re everywhere. To paraphrase The Who, meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Small Town Terror
We open on Thor being pulled away from a sparring match with Volstagg the Voluminous by an Avengers mission. It’s always a treat to see Asgard, and especially any of the Warriors Three. The mission, attended by all the team sans Hawkeye and the Black Widow, is in the small town of Maple Falls, which at first reminded me of Pleasant Hill from Standoff. It’s enshrouded in a mist, which Thor dispels easily, but we know simply by the title of the episode what this mist is – the terrigen mist that transforms humans into Inhumans.
Indeed, when the mist clears, the Avengers are set upon by Alpha Primitives. They are the politically incorrect sub-human working class of the Inhumans, most often used as pawns by Maximus the Mad, the black sheep of the Inhumans Royal Family. I was impressed how their animated forms were so close to Jack Kirby’s original concept. Battle ensues, but only briefly before the Inhumans arrive.
Paul Dini, the Hulk, and the Inhumans
One of the first things I noticed about this episode was how canny and intelligent the Hulk seemed, as the credits roll at the beginning I found out why – it was written by Paul Dini. He was not only one of the masterminds behind Batman The Animated Series, but Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. was one of his, too, where the Hulk was much smarter. When the Inhumans arrive, Hulk even acknowledges that he knows them, from when he had met them before on Agents of S.M.A.S.H. Nice continuity bit, Paul.
In attendance are Black Bolt, Medusa, Karnak, Gorgon, Seeker, and Lockjaw. Seeker is an odd choice, an old school Inhuman who has served Maximus in the past… my spider-sense is tingling. Speaking of which, Triton is missing, perhaps still training with S.H.I.E.L.D. over on Ultimate Spider-Man. After the out of continuity Guardians of the Galaxy, this is a breath of fresh air. The Hulk describes the Inhumans as “super people with attitude, they don’t play well with others.” With an introduction like that, you just know they’re going to fight, right? Right.
Fight for Your Right
Hulk goes off to Attilan (still floating above the Earth) with Lockjaw to retrieve some terrigen crystals to calm the Alpha Primitives, so with their negotiator gone, suspicion and antagonism grows between the Avengers and the Inhumans in Maple Falls. When the Inhumans fudge on what the mist actually does, and find a cocoon in the town, things get dicey, and blows are exchanged. Can’t we all just get along?
While I wished that the Avengers showed the kind of teamwork that the Inhumans did, the one-on-one battles were quite impressive, especially Thor vs. Black Bolt. This was so much better than when the Inhumans fought the Guardians. This fight is not a time-eater, it’s an entertainer. And I loved the cameo by Don Knotts.
Birth of an Inhuman
As the two teams fight, the cocoon hatches releasing a new Inhuman, a giant living inferno that can only be stopped by the Inhumans and Avengers working together. This new Inhuman is actually Inferno, a Charles Soule creation and result of the events of Infinity. The mistrust continues as the Avengers find the Inhumans have not been completely truthful about the terrigen mists and what they do. Nevertheless, the Hulk returns and they are able to calm the new Inhuman and the Alpha Primitives.
Nice as it was to see the two groups make friends and suggest that Inferno would make a good liaison between Inhumans and humans, it was even nicer to see Thor portrayed well in this series. Thank you once again, Paul Dini. All too often Thor is the drunken and stupid frat boy rather than the regal prince of Asgard and god of thunder. I applaud the change of pace. More Dini please?
As I suspected, Seeker is not above board and not to be trusted. At the end of the episode we see him reporting to someone in a crimson cowl, and old school Avengers fans know what that means before I even say it. It’s not the villain one usually suspects in an Inhumans story – Maximus the Mad, but the Avengers’ deadliest foe… Ultron!
Next: “The Inhuman Condition!”