‘Inhumanity’ Could Position The Inhumans As Marvel’s Primary Metaphor For Oppression
Marvel has teased that the Inhumans would play a large role in Jonathan Hickman’s upcoming Infinity storyline. It seems that wasn’t an exaggeration, as today via Entertainment Weekly the publisher announced Inhuman, a new monthly series written by Matt Fraction, which will serve as the centerpiece of an event called Inhumanity. To go with the news Marvel released an image of the characters who’ll be at the forefront of the story, illustrated by Steve McNiven and featuring a new look Wolverine, the Winter Soldier, a non-Superior Spider-Man and, interestingly, very few Inhumans.
The announcement, along with comments from Fraction and Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, further enforce the idea of the Inhumans as an analogy for oppressed minorities, and possibly sets them up as the primary metaphor for oppression and alienation in the Marvel Universe, a position previously occupied by the X-Men.
[Spoilers for Infinity below]
The premise of this event revolves around the Terrigen Mists, which give the Inhumans their powers. Created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, the Inhumans are an ancient race of super powered beings spawned eons ago due to experimentation by the Celestials and, later, the Kree. And while their numbers seem relatively small, being a race that old they have literally millions of descendants across the planet. Unlike the members of the Inhuman Kingdom, these descendants have no exposure to the mists, leaving them unaware of their ancestry. Following the events of Infinity, the Terrigen Mists are released throughout the world, causing the activation of previously dormant Inhuman cells in millions of people, giving them various superpowers, though they aren’t all glamorous, according to Marvel Alonso:
“You might learn that your new self is fantastic, beautiful, filled with immense power. By the same token, you could turn around and find out that you’re nothing. You’re a blob. You have no powers. You can create a little flame out of your pinkie.”
This is a development that would obviously have a drastic effect on the world’s population. Looking at the image above, the team will feature Black Bolt and Medusa, the king and queen of the Inhumans, and a mix other Marvel heroes — some of whom could have new powers as well. Outside of the primary story, the McNiven illustration indicates a few new developments and leads to a few questions: The Spider-Man depicted is decidedly not Superior, the Winter Soldier is joining a major superhero team again, and there’s a character in the background who may or may not be Nightcrawler. Also present is Angela, because apparently she’s important now, and Yondu, who can come in handy if you’re ever playing comic book bar trivia. But the salient development is the push to have the Inhumans at the forefront of the Marvel Universe, while driving home the idea of them as a minority metaphor. Fraction shared this quote about Inhumanity:
“It’s giving us a chance to get back to a classic Marvel metaphor of alienation. We’re telling science-fiction stories, but really it’s about race, gender, sexual equality. It’s a very relevant, pertinent metaphor.”
This is in contrast to recent developments in Uncanny Avengers, a title featuring a mixture of Avengers and X-Men which, according to writer Rick Remender, is not at all meant to be a metaphor. If the publisher has decided to use the Inhumans as their primariy commentary on alienation — assuming this development is meant to last for an extended amount of time — it’s an interesting choice, as that has been a role the X-Men have played for decades. That said, there’s obviously room for both — it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Still, many readers will likely be curious about what this new direction means for both franchises. Entertainment Weekly has promised more news regarding this series is coming soon, so the best approach is likely to wait and see how this all develops.
No artist has been announced for Inhuman as of this time. Issue #1 arrives in stores in December.