Lately, I’ve been on a tear finding superhero comics that question the idea of what it means to do good in a community, and, moreover, what a superhero team could look like.

And these are the heroes! who have to fight to not be politically involved by the United Nations

Let me talk about another. This one is another title that isn’t exactly in print, but a trade of it is strangely more expensive than the comics themselves, which can be found often for under cover price. Regardless, this is a comic you will want all twelve issues of after you get into it, so maybe a slightly more expensive bound comic is better anyways. At least, that’s how collectors see it, but then, you miss the lettercolumns.

And those really are the treats of the comics. Longtime Inhumans fans chiming in on how the series respects the Inhuman’s hidden legacy spreading throughout many comics with flashier hero’s titles.

You also read comics by punk teenagers who hate any kind of superhero comics, and how the book is a revelation.

It’s an odd feeling, watching a comic like this unfold while reading the reader’s simultaneous classical appreciation and sui generis style. And definitely a pleasure  relating to comic’s periodical, episodic nature instead of their collected volume edition, but, hey, my resentment of the term “graphic novel” would be the topic of another post.

Let’s get back to the art, shall we?

which was then garishly computer colored into this cover:

oh, haha, you thought this was going to get diplomatic? nah, this is a comic about mistranslation more than anything else. Terrible miscommunication like draping garish aluminum metals over Jae Lee’s magnificent shadow work.

And his work really does always look better in black and white.

And even then, the colorist draped sick, feebly colors over these instead of stark light and shadow, as his black and white art suggests.

His fans keep his work as it should, be though.

It’s made even more post-colonial with the present of ads in the comics. If you buy the collected edition (that Marvel did not provide a foreword for, and still refuses to reprint), there won’t be a panel of medusa wondering if her husband will still love her “after what happened in darkness” won’t be greeted with a page turn into a child’s spiderman comic, that continues for twelve pages.

But maybe that unintentional image of the narrative continuing into juvenile superheroics is what makes this comic so special. Produced at a time when Marvel Comics was bankrupt, they had started throwing anything and everything at a wall, hoping that some of their shit would stick.

This is the only character that Marvel’s CEO, Joe Quesada, had ever created, a vixen that goes by the name of Painkiller Jane.

A lot of great comics came out, ones that likely won’t have a chance to ever happen again. Bullseye went from insane and precise to serial killer level insane, his girlfriend Karen Page, turned into a junkie by Frank Miller, redeemed by Ann Nocenti, became ruined yet again (she secretly did drugs the entire time, Matt. And she’s dead. Kevin Smith’s contribution to the Daredevil mythos). Daredevil’s other on and off again girlfriend, Black Widow, became a MAX comic that had her liberally use sex to get what she wanted, and spend time earning money as a dominatrix in Amsterdam, and Captain America’s boss Nick Fury became a grouchy old war veteran who would shoot anything that moves, and pee on its front door.

It was an interesting time to be a superhero. Spiderman and X-Men were just brimming around the corner, and companies still thought that the way to make more money through comics was by creating more innovative content. You know, instead of milking out their properties to media with greater visibility, like movie screens and children’s underwear.

So this comic, the inhumane, came out under Marvel’s “gritty” imprint. A far cry from DC’s vertigo, it actually resembled the comics that inspired that run more: superheros with just a few more shadows than would be normally comfortable, just a hint of horrific violence whispered through mute panels and lucid threats. Basically, the good shit.

And this is probably the best of that shit. From its perfect circular structure, to its classical, almost Homeric recontextualization of superheroes as warriors engaging in rhetoric (much much more often than them fighting). Heck, if y’all were as big classical nerds as I was, I could mention how the comic has many familiar formulas and events to homeric literature, and the entire comic can be read as an extended arming scene for a battle that never happens, but I am not going to bore you with the truth.

So let’s get artistic.

Jae lee’s Ultimate Inhumans, when he got to reimagine the concept for a “parallel universe story”

I will get to Jenkin’s writing in a moment, which is in rare superb form here, but the star of this book is Jae Lee’s artwork. A fill in superhero artist who slummed around just long enough to get noticed by Image to do more creator owned and illustrative work, the man nonetheless can work his way around a comic page.

This is some of his mature work, the other stellar examples being his shortly following sentry mini-series with the same writer, and a two issue ultimate fantastic four fill in arc written by Lucifer scribe Mike Carey that is really just superb, but that is far from the point.

This man understands the menace of superheroes. They are not glimmering servicemen looking to help you out. They are terrifying beings of power who wish they didn’t have to cloud their mind by bothering that you are there. They stare through you, often while emanating sparks and/or smoke. And there’s never a photo reference to distract you from them. Jae Lee would just draw an ugly, nondescript face there instead. It places more focus on the muscles emerging from the shadows for a single punch, maybe just a single glance before it decides it doesn’t need to bother with you anyway.

And not needing to bother with humanity becomes a theme throughout the series. Black Bolt, the reigning king of the Inhumans’ island Attilan (or Atlantis, as Namor imagines in his conquest to capture it), is cursed with a terrible power: his very speech is so sonically powerful that it is a devastating weapon whenever used. After exposing his alien developed but still humanoid body to Terrigen Mists (the rite into adulthood of every inhuman), he gained this power. His childhood sweetheart, Medusa, stands by as an interpreter of his facial expressions (and he becomes very skilled at writing).

Naturally, he becomes king of the land with the respect of a disabled man as well as the respect of a warrior. He is father to all.

Moreoever, no one can best him in combat. An eternal being ran at him with a spear, and he shouted in his direction, sending him back to space. He simply needs to speak to disarm someone. So he obsessively searches for ways other violence and combat to solve his situations.

I would speak more of this series, but, really, the suspense lies in what Black Bolt’s silence means. So I will leave with this:

This comic will change you.

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