With the launch of Inhuman #1 earlier this month, Marvel is kicking off what they promise to be their “latest epic.” In much the same way 1975’s Giant-Size X-Men redefined that kind and mutantkind as a whole, this year’s Inhuman is doing the same with the long-hidden race known as the Inhumans. Like the X-Men they were created by the legendary team of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, and now in the hands of Charles Soule and Joe Madureira they’re getting their moment in the sun – and under fire – from outsiders and from their own kind.
Described as “an epic tale of superpowered high adventure” by series writer Charles Soule, Inhuman touches almost every corner of the Marvel Universe. With the explosion of the Terrigen Bomb in Infinity #4, it brought the old guard of the Inhuman royal family down to earth – literally – while also igniting hundreds – and possibly thousands – of latent Inhumans who were born and raised to believe they were mere humans like you and I. These “NuHumans” as they’re referred to in Inhuman are entering a strange new world and a strange new race, and their allegiances fall all over the map.
With Inhuman #1 on shelves now, we caught up with the extra-busy writer Charles Soule to discuss the events of that issue, his favorites amongst the classic and the new Inhumans, and the big picture of Inhuman itself. Along the way he drops some tantalizing pieces of information such as the rise of a new Inhuman capital, a Mad Max-style new character, and one classic Kirby/Lee creation who has a secret love of Brazilian heavy metal.
Newsarama: Charles, Inhuman #1 is finally on shelves and in people’s hands. What was it like for you to come in on the crux of a major shift for a classic Marvel concept and charting the course for Inhumans and Inhuman?
Charles Soule: Fantastic. Before I ever worked for Marvel, I had a list of characters I was interested in writing for them, if ever given the chance. The Inhumans were on that list - but at the time, I figured I'd be dealing with the classic "royal family" of Black Bolt, Medusa, etc. The scope of Inhuman is about a thousand times larger than any Inhuman-related story we've seen before. I feel privileged to be working on it, honestly. I also think that this particular development of the Inhuman concept feels very organic. It's a shift that makes sense - of course there would be people across the globe with Inhuman genes. The story has a strong backbone, which really helps.
Nrama: The Inhumans already had a big cast with the aforementioned Black Bolt and Medusa at the head of it, but there are a large amount of new Inhumans coming to light thanks to the Terrigen bomb. Can you pick out one of these new characters you think fans will be drawn to most and tell us about them?
Soule: I'm a huge fan of Reader at the moment, although you're right, many new characters are on the way. Reader is an Inhuman whose ability is to make anything he reads real. Unfortunately, he's blind, but he makes it work. He carries a little ring of tin sheets clipped to his belt - each has a word stamped on it in Braille. When he needs to, he just grabs the appropriate word and whammo - things happen. He looks a little bit like Mad Max, and he travels the globe scooping up new Inhumans (I call them NuHumans in the book) as they appear. He's a little good, a little bad, but all kickass.
Nrama: So it’s in with the new, but as readers of Inhuman #1 can attest you’re not sweeping away the old. Medusa is featured prominently, but who are some other classic Inhumans fans can look forward to in future issues?
Soule: I've been having a lot of fun with Gorgon, actually. He's training up the NuHumans that Medusa brings to New Attilan (oh, have I not talked about New Attilan yet? Oops) and it turns out he's a huge metal fan - Sepultura and bands like that. You know, honestly, I'm having fun with all of them. This series is right up my alley.
Nrama: A real X-Factor here, to me at least, is the whereabouts of Black Bolt and Maximum the Mad; they faked their death in Infinity – will they be showing up in Inhuman?
Soule: They are referenced regularly - Black Bolt and Maximus cast a big shadow, certainly. However, their absence gives Medusa both a huge crisis to solve and an opportunity to shine. I think it would be foolish to never use them, since they're fantastic, but I have some other ground to cover first.
Nrama: Will this series bring in the other previously known tangential Inhuman races, such as the Universal Inhumans from Johnathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four run?
Soule: We'll see Orrolan quite soon - that's the group referenced in Infinity. Thane, son of Thanos hailed from that city. The Unspoken will appear (he was the king of the Inhumans before Black Bolt, and he might be looking to capitalize on that currently empty throne.) Beyond that... wait and see!
Nrama: That idea that anyone could be an Inhuman – as a writer, did you explore your own potential reactions if you got hit with a whiff of the mists and found yourself an Inhuman?
Soule: My life has changed dramatically in the past year even without the mists - I mean, I'm writing Inhuman, you know? I was able to draw on that to flesh out some of the character beats here, but everyone knows change, really. Life is change - hopefully mostly good, but it's never going to be just good stuff.
Nrama: The first two covers focused exclusively on NuHumans, and the third issue only shows a pre-existing one – Medusa – in the background with Lash in the foreground. Can you tell us about mixing the “old order” of Inhumans with these NuHumans and finding the balance?
Soule: It's a bit complex, but I have a framework I like. More or less, what you have is Medusa trying to hold her fractured kingdom together while attempting to understand why Black Bolt released all of this Terrigen onto the Earth. He didn't explain it to her - it was kind of an odd move, honestly. Simultaneously, she has to deal with the appearance of the NuHumans on the planet. They're a gigantic new potential power base, and she's not the only person who wants to "collect" them. The first batch of stories are concerned with various factions new and old trying to consolidate the NuHumans and understand what they're going to mean to the rest of the planet. Epic.
Nrama: Big picture, the idea of the old order of the Inhuman royal family mixing up against with the massive rise in Inhuman population that may or not fall in line is supremely intriguing. Will that be a big part of Inhuman?
Soule: A huge part. I'd say it's one of the main throughlines of the story, actually.
Nrama: The Inhumans have been around for decades, but with Inhuman it seems like their next step in their evolution – to me reminiscent of Giant Size X-Men changing the X-Men franchise back in 1975. You’re on the inside, working with Joe Madureira and the editors – does it feel any different than say, launching She-Hulk or Superman/Wonder Woman?
Soule: Every series is different, but I do agree that this series is concerned with big-picture elements in a way that She-Hulk isn't (for the moment). It's a different focus and a different challenge, but one I greatly enjoy. Even Superman/Wonder Woman, which does have a gigantic scope, has a different vibe to Inhuman. I like my projects to all be a bit different, so I can use different parts of my brain to execute them. Inhuman is pushing a bunch of great buttons for me, and I think it's going to do the same for readers!