THIS REVIEW OF ‘DEATH OF THE INHUMANS’ #1 CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS.
By Jami Jones. Donny Cates has arrived to the Marvel universe bringing with him revolution and innovation. He’s shaken up the status quo of Earth-616 with brave choices, from giving the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme to Loki to ushering in the emergence of a symbiote god in Venom. And his latest creation, the Cosmic Ghost Rider, is yet another sign that Cates will not shy away from making insane decisions that result in direct consequences for everyone throughout the Marvel continuum. In Death of the Inhumans #1 Cates joins artist Ariel Olivetti, colorist Jordie Bellaire and letterer Clayton Cowles to deliver exactly what the title promises: Death. Lots of death.
The Inhumans as we know them debuted in 1965’s Fantastic Four #45. Genetic experiments intended as weapons for the Kree, the Inhumans began as an intriguing royal family of powerful individuals and went on to become world destroyers and creators, their drama unfolding on the stage of humanity. Their recent history has been tumultuous, what with having to destroy the Terrigen mists (the source of their powers) which doomed future generations of Inhumans to the comparative mediocrity of humanity. Their subsequent cosmic excursion led to discoveries about their species and themselves, priming the group to heal their tenuous relationships.
Death of the Inhumans begins with a genocide, bodies floating in space with a message etched into their skin and a king mourning subjects that were never his. A new menace has emerged which threatens to purge the universe of every single Inhuman to ensure a prophecy never comes to pass. Black Bolt and brood arrive for a palaver to determine how to respond the the mass slaughter of Inhumans, only to find irreversible events have already forced his hand into action.
The events of the past weigh heavy on Blackagar Boltagon’s face, the emotion evident through Olivetti’s confident linework. There’s a tenseness in this book as the artist examines the terror that permeates these alien worlds; our tour through time and space is enhanced by Olivetti’s panel placement, which deviates from the standard formula and enhances the story as a result. Bringing with him years of Marvel experience, Olivetti provides surprisingly human faces to very not human beings.
Rather than depend on backgrounds to set the scene Bellaire’s sharp hues tell a story of melancholy and violence, adding to the book’s somber tone. Action breaks through in spikes of red and black, the colors aptly reflecting the gravity of the title. No bright and festive tones here; Olivetti and Bellaire illustrate an elegant tale of sorrow and loss.
As for Cates, he shows neither hesitation nor subtlety in shocking readers with his portrayal of the brutality of mortality. In Death the writer navigates the lore of the Inhumans in such a way that a casual reader won’t have a problem following, no small feat considering the incredibly complicated history at play here. Pulling no punches, Cates wastes zero time in stacking up the casualties whether we’re ready to experience them or not.
Written by Donny Cates.
Art by Ariel Olivetti.
Colors by Jordie Bellaire.
Letters by Clayton Cowles.
7 out of 10