Updated on December 10, 2021
Lately, I’ve noticed there’s a lot of grumbling online about the Inhumans, the traditionally second-tier characters with mutant-like powers that Marvel’s been pushing quite hard lately. This push has come both in comics (an explosion of titles, crossovers, etc., including this month’s solicitations) and in other media (they’re on “Agents of SHIELD”).
First appearing in “Fantastic Four” #45 in 1968, the Inhumans are a race of humans that gain powers when exposed to the mutagenic gas the “Terrigan Mists,” which give each person a different power, similar to X-Men’s mutants.
The main characters are a group called the “Royal Family.” They’re a family that’s traditionally ruled over/led the until-now smallish group of Inhumans. However, recent storylines have seen the Terrigan Mists spread over the Earth, leading to a mass explosion of people with Inhuman heritage to gain mutant-like powers. The most prominent such person so far is Ms. Marvel.
Why the push?
The reasons for the Inhumans push are rather corporate: movie rights. Marvel sold the film rights to Fox for not just the X-Men, but the concept of “mutants” itself. Someone at Marvel has presumably remembered they have the Inhumans, whose powers are mutant-like (despite having a completely different backstory). Also important, their media rights are still under Marvel’s ownership.
Hence, Inhumans aplenty, including their power source (the “Terrigan Mists”) serving as Marvel’s new go-to generic superpower origin (that was once stating “(s)he’s a mutant”). Squirrel Girl was originally a mutant with few if any ties to the X-Men, just as Ms. Marvel’s an Inhuman with few ties to those characters. (Recent stories have started downplaying or being vague about Squirrel Girl’s origins.)
Pros and cons
That said, a lot of people online dislike how aggressively Marvel’s pushing the Inhumans; some also just have a dislike of the Inhumans themselves. I don’t have strong feelings about them, but it’s interesting to see the reaction. There’s lots of remarks/jokes on Twitter about how Marvel “needs to stop trying to make Inhumans a thing.”
Probably not helping comic fans’ reception is that the Inhumans push is:
- Somewhat aggressive. They’ve got their own book, various appearances in other books, etc.
- The Inhumans are a concept that was fairly B-list until recently.
- Being done in part for non-comic-related, commercial reasons, versus comics/story related reasons.
Still, the characters do have fans, though maybe they aren’t as vocal as the non-fans/those who’re indifferent. Also, the upcoming “Inhumans” TV show, due in 2017, might improve their image the way “Guardians of the Galaxy” did for Rocket Raccoon and Star-Lord.
As Marvel’s films have shown, even a B-list concept can be elevated to stardom with good writing. A decade ago, even Iron Man was a second-tier character versus, well, the heavy mutant/X-Men presence or Spider-Man. Now, everyone knows who Iron Man is, and even recent merchandise like my Lego Marvel game shows Iron Man front and center, not main Marvel star Spider-Man.
How do you feel about Marvel’s Inhumans push, or the Inhumans themselves? Will they ever “be a thing?” Chime in below in the comments.