No one would ever excuse Marvel's Earth of being normal, and now Crystal and a band of Inhumans are going to track down the weirdness, Planetary-style.
All-New Inhumans debuts on Wednesday, featuring the Fantastic Four alumna leading a group of fellow Inhumans to help those of her kind and investigate the ominous appearance of obelisk-like Skyspears around the world. They have some connection to the Inhumans, but no one knows why -- but that doesn't stop those from wanting to profit from it.
Writers Charles Soule and James Asmus frame All-New Inhumans as a more worldly series that it's companion title, Uncanny Inhumans, mixing in Indiana Jones-style adventure with political and procedural flair. The duo talked with Newsarama about this second ongoing Inhumasn team book and how it fits into the Marvel U -- especially with the Inhumans now at odds with mutants.
Newsarama: Charles, James – what makes All-New Inhumans different from Uncanny Inhumans and everything else on shelves?
James Asmus: This book is gunning for a truly global perspective. The cast, the locales, and the worldview are the most widely rich and diverse of anything I’ve been involved with. We’re taking every opportunity we can to explore the implications of Terrigen going global.
Charles Soule: You have a great team of Inhumans old and new traveling the world in a huge, awesome ship investigating Terrigen-related “hotspots.” It’s part Indiana Jones-style adventure, part procedural and part geo-political thriller, all put through a superhero blender. I think of it as “Inhumans meets Planetary,” and it’s a blast.
Nrama: Who exactly makes up the team in this? And what do they call themselves?
Asmus: Well Crystal (sister to Medusa, Queen of the Inhumans and wielder of some serious elemental powers) leads the team - and while readers might know her from being a major player in everything from the Fantastic Four to the Avengers to War Of Kings over the years, this is really her first time taking the lead.
Soule: Crystal is the captain of the ship – which is called the R.I.V. The recently paralyzed and wheelchair-bound Gorgon is her second-in-command and trainer of the many NuHumans in the crew.
Asmus: He was always the hard-charging bruiser for the Royal Inhumans but was recently paralyzed, and is trying to come to grips and find a new way forward.
Soule: Speaking of new, we’ve also got Naja and Flint, who played a big role in the Inhuman series from last year, and Grid, who was introduced in the Free Comic Book Day story last May, not to mention other new, very cool characters.
Asmus: In addition to established Inhumans, though, we introduce three new characters in the first issue who really bring to life the unpredictable results of the Terrigen cloud transforming unsuspecting people as it moves through the world.
Plus… you’ll soon see two familiar ladies get tied up with the team – a former X-Man, and a villainess who will definitely add some fierce.
Nrama: The big focus of this is the Skyspears. Nineteen to be exact, and they’re ominous like the Monolith from 2001: Space Odyssey. Can you say anything about them? What they do, where they’re from, and where they’re at exactly?
Soule: They are from elsewhere, they can’t be damaged in any way, all sorts of people both on and off the planet seem to be interested in them, and they provide a small boost to Inhuman powers if approached. Beyond that, I don’t want to say too much just yet, as they’re part of a much longer play in the Inhuman universe that will be fun to reveal over time.
Nrama: One of the earliest big confrontations in this book will be an unnamed dictator trying to weaponize Inhumans—sounds like something out of recent episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Can you give us the particulars on this threat?
Asmus: Sure! Charles had the deeply intriguing idea of a dictator claiming that zero transformations happened in his country when the Terrigen hit – something unheard of in the many months this catalyst has wound its way through the atmosphere. Whether it’s true or propaganda – this assertion demands Crystal’s attention. The country, in our story, is Sin-Cong – a place that has mostly been isolationist since its appearance in Avengers #18 (of the original 60s run). But back then, the military leadership of the country lured the Avengers and fought them to a standstill with a massive android they’d created – The Commissar - all for a domestic PR victory. What we’ll find is that they learned a lot from their encounter with the Avengers – and the new generation of leadership has much bigger ambition.
Nrama: I’m told that in March the All-New Inhumans will be joined by Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man. Was that spider that bit him an Inhuman? What’s going on that brings him into play here?
Asmus: In the all-new Amazing Spider-Man, Parker Industries is trying to forward science and solve crises all around the world – so it made perfect sense he’d be one of the first people Crystal would collide with. In this case, it’s that his Shanghai research team has been called to deal with the Skyspear that landed in China once it becomes… temperamental. It’ll be one of our first big onion layers peeled away in the Skyspear mystery. But there’ll also be some other established Marvel heroes more interested in settling a score than solving a science riddles.
Nrama: Charles, this one’s more for you – how would you classify this book compared to Uncanny Inhumans?
Soule: It’s a different focus. Uncanny takes something like a high-level perspective on all the Inhuman-related stuff going on in the Marvel U – its intrigue and royal family stuff and backstabbings and so on. All-New, on the other hand, is more down and dirty, right on the ground where things are really getting intense. If I had to resort to comparisons to TV shows, I might say Uncanny is sort of like Game of Thrones, while All-New is more like Homeland. But even that’s pretty reductive, and James might not agree!
Nrama: How do the Inhumans, and particularly Crystal and the characters in this book, feel about the Terrigen Clouds being so positive for Inhumans yet so negative for mutants?
Soule: It’s a complex issue, and there’s no consensus. Some people are thrilled, some people are horrified, some people aren’t sure how they feel – just the way things tend to work when issues like this pop up in the real world. One of the great things about the Inhuman concept is that it allows for a lot of moral complexity, since the characters come from so many different backgrounds. I’m not sure how I would feel in a similar situation – there’s really no good answer, and we try to explore that.
Asmus: We tackle that question in the first issue pretty head-on. The effect of Terrigen on mutants is a disaster no one intended. But while she’s concerned for mutants, Crystal’s first and biggest responsibility in all this is to the new Inhumans. (NuHumans) But that answer isn’t going to sit well with some people…
Nrama: Digging into that deeper, many of the X-Men books are dealing with the effects of the Terrigen Mists – will the Inhumans book look into it from their side of things?
Soule: Absolutely. The effect of the Terrigen cloud on the world is a huge part of all of the series, and will continue to be for some time to come. It’s just such a great story generator.
Asmus: For sure – there’s very serious consequences when the Terrigen rolls in for Inhumans, mutants, and humans alike. That murky moral water – how you balance the good for one people against the harm it might do to others – is incredibly intriguing and relevant stuff to explore. It’s a question that screams out from the core concept of the series, and I’m thrilled Marvel has really let us explore the difficult choices it creates. In trying to describe Crystal’s experience in this book to friends, the closest comparison I’ve come up with is Rick from The Walking Dead. Every turn demands a new moral choice with real consequence, and the answers don’t come easy.
Nrama: James, you’re coming in and joining Charles who’s become the Inhumans showrunner of sort. How did Charles and Marvel help you get up to speed with the short- and long-term plans for the Inhumans in order to co-write?
Asmus: Well to my relief, there was already a whole document written up with Charles’ vision for all things Inhumans. He’s an incredibly smart guy – and as you might imagine from his tremendous output as a writer – he’s also someone who can think big and make lots of little pieces work together. Charles and our genuinely amazing editors (Nick Lowe & Charles Beacham!) struck a dream balance right away – there were big, deeply rich concepts and opportunities already teed up, but there were just as many places for me to bring in my own interests and ideas for where to take and grow these characters and their stories. Knowing the big spots we’re going to hit along the way, or what’s going to get tackled elsewhere only helped me focus my own brainstorming and creative energies. There’s been very little learning curve, but the absolute best minds pitching in on everything. So I feel pretty lucky.
Nrama: Charles, James, how does the co-writing process work? Do you do drafts, or split scenes, or does James here handle nouns and Charles handle verbs?
Soule: I came up with the blueprint for the series, plots for arcs and how it works within the larger Inhuman world, and wrote the story introducing the “new” Crystal for the Marvel Point One issue, but James certainly doesn’t need my help with scripts! We talk pretty regularly about what’s going on in both series, and I’m always jazzed to see what he brings to the book.
Asmus: I took Charles’ vision for the series to heart – its purpose, character notes, and storyline concepts were all absolutely inspiring. From there, I’ve been given a lot of freedom to grab the reins and explore the stuff that excites me. And the stories have definitely taken big turns even I didn’t expect. That’s generally a great sign that your characters really are taking on a life of their own – and so far, everyone’s been on board with where they’re taking me/us/the readers.
Nrama: For this you two are working with artist Stefano Caselli. Since signing with Marvel in 2006, Caselli has always been placed with big series Marvel wants handled a certain way – from launching Secret Warriors to doing Amazing Spider-Man, a run on Avengers with Jonathan Hickman and then Avengers World. Why does All-New Inhumans need an artist like Stefano?
Soule: Man, Stefano is so good. When those first designs for the revamped Crystal started coming through… wow.
Asmus: Stefano is an absolutely incredible artist. He is an absolute master of combining character nuance with mood. He can juggle the emotional and atmospheric drives of a story alongside huge doses of style and action. Couple all that with the fact that he did huge and tremendous work designing new elements for the book (the R.I.V. alone is a big ask and feat of imagination) – and this just wouldn’t be the same book without Stefano’s DNA baked into its core. I really can’t wait for everyone to see. He’s sent in sequences for every issue that make me literally jump out of my chair with excitement when I get them! He’s truly delivering all the action, heartbreak, horror, and hilarity you could handle in your monthly comic books.