After I subscribed to marvel unlimited, I started reading Comic Book Herald's excellent marvel comic complete reading order in preparation for civil war. I finished reading Inhumans Vol. 2 and here's what I got from it.
The Inhumans is a society of people who were genetically modified by the Kree to be weapons in their war against the galaxy. Ultimately they were considered a failure and left behind on Earth. By being exposed to the terrigen mists their abilities are revealed.
The Inhumans are lead by the royal family. Black Bolt, their king, has a destructive voice; one whisper can read havoc on his enemies arena friends alike. Medusa, the queen, reads Black Bolt's intentions and relays them. Her power is her prehensile hair. Crystal, Medusa ' sister can control the elements. Cousin Gorgon can make the earth quake by stomping his bull like legs, Cousin Karnak was not exposed to the mists. He is an excellent martial artist and can sense the opponent's weak points. Karnak ' brother Triton is a fish man. Lockjaw, an extra large bulldog who transports them. Black Bolt's brother, Maximus the Mad, can control minds; he is angry that Bolt accidentally killed their parents after he gained his power and now wants to overthrow Black Bolt's throne.
This is a good volume about what it takes for the ruler of a hidden city of meta-humans in a time of crisis to lead and secure his city while trying keep from destroying all of humankind.
Now, Black Bolt, he’s a mysterious character, and at the beginning of "Sonic Youth," he is acting more suspicious to the royal family. Gorgon questions his passive intentions, Karnak who sees the flaw in everything, can not find a weakness in Black Bolt, Medusa, his wife and proxy, can not read his intents. Seeding the beginnings of the story arc, Bolt's brother, Maximus, who blames Bolt and his power for the death of their parents, seeks to rule Attilan while a Portuguese comprised mercenary army stands outside the protective barrier after the city ready to attack. I felt this book gave me a good idea of who each of the Inhumans in the royal family are and set up the volume well.
“Genotypical” follows the terrigenesis of the next selection of worthy teens. This book felt out of place after all the setup in the first book, it felt like it broke tension that didn’t exist. Six teens are chosen for transformation via the terrigen mists. One of the chosen, the scared and unsure Tonaja, mutates into a flier, a currently rare, highly regarded mutation. Dewoz’s transformation however, is lost as an Alpha Primitive, the genetically engineered slave labor for the city, confined to the bowels of the city. The others while less important to the overall story are still present in the later half of the run filling out the ranks, giving us a connection to those on the front line.
"Ghost in the Machine" takes a philosophical look at terrigenesis, Inhuman society and fate. Karnak explains that previous research into terrigenesis has shown mutations are adapted to future needs of the society; if a specific role is lost, a flier in the current example Tonaja, it will be replaced within three years. Losing an Inhuman to an Alpha Primitive or another useless mutation, not only is a blemish on family and society, but one less inhuman to fill the ranks, one step closer to extinction of the species. This was an interesting take on terrigenesis; not just a powerful mutation, but a doomsday clock counting the generations until their end. Not long after Woz is taken under the city to the Alpha Primitives, he discovers his true power of traveling through one mirror to another; this first jump ends with the mirror in Maximus' cell. This made the previous issue make more sense and solidified the how of Maximus’ plan from the first book as well.
"Chinese Whispers" is one of my favorite comic stories; the (re)action of the general public. Mr. Fantastic on the Bill Maher show, Jay Leno making topical humor, professor's lectures and a copy cat cult group. This is what makes the comic feel grounded in reality, more like I'm reading a historical account of the stand off than a work of fiction. This book also introduces Namor's connection to Attilan and the Inhumans, believing Attilan is the risen city Atlantis. We also get to see the further plot of Maximus to take over his brother’s city by having Woz running errands for the madman, including bringing KGB agent Stalyenko into Maximus' cell. I really liked finding out Maximus was planning everything from the beginning, if you’re going to make a plan this is where you start, the beginning.
"First Contact,” now, this is where Gorgon steps up and starts vocalizing his disdain for Black Bolt’s inaction. The KGB lead army begins its assault on the city of Attilan, soon after a, for lack of a better term, strike team of Inhumans go out to face their attackers to try and scare them away by showing them the Attilan’s lack of fear of the situation. Bolt catches a shell (cannon ball?) and after Salyenko spits on Black Bolt, crushes it in front of his face, a show of great strength and great restraint. The UN is visited by a group of diplomats from Attilan and say they will not help, but give them a token gift (a disrupter given to the US by none other than Black Widow in the beginning of this comic). Meanwhile, Maximus speaks to Woz about being brave in the face of humanity lest they will harm you, reiterating the inner dialogue that his brother began the comic with. Wrapping up this book, Karnak sees that the humans are not trying to break the first barrier, but overload it during the storm only too late. Another ingenious plan brought to you by your intricate planner Maximus.
There's a couple of my favorite panels in "Welcome to the Jungle," two silent panels showing Black Bolts' resolve. His conviction to remain non-violent in his his interaction with the attacking humans. The first panel (page 7) shows the royal family standing behind Bolt; following him reluctantly as he has seemingly turned his back on not only them, but all of Attilan. The repercussions of Bolts' choice come to light as the mercenary army steadily breaks down Attilan's every defence. Gorgon continues to question Black Bolt as the walls come tumbling down and is summarily rebuked, Karnak reiterates that Bolt's word is final and Medusa visits Maximus in hopes of understanding the decision made by her betroved.