The Inhumans have become a major part of the Marvel Universe in recent years - specifically Earth, but now with Royals - a new ongoing series featuring Black Bolt, Medusa, and the Inhuman Royal Family - writer Al Ewing is taking them into outer space. And former Teen Titans artist Jonboy Meyers is joining him.
In Royals, the Inhuman Royal Family will travel to the deepest reaches of Marvel space, seeking the secrets of their origin. Along the way, they'll be joined by some unlikely allies - such as Marvel Boy, the Kree warrior from an alternate reality - and, Ewing promises, one of them will die.
Newsarama spoke to Ewing ahead of Royals #1's April 5 release date, and while he wouldn't spill the beans as to which Inhuman will reportedly die, he did say that Royals will bring major revelations to both the Inhumans and the Marvel Universe; revelations, he says, which will be "written in letters of fire on a rock at the end of humanity."
Newsarama: Al, you’re taking over the adventures of the Inhuman royal family in Royals. Are these characters you’ve known or wanted to write for a long time?
Al Ewing: I've definitely been thinking about them for a little while - I knew Wil Moss was interested in me writing something about the Inhumans, and we've been talking about them on and off for a little while. So they've been on my mental radar. I was pretty happy to be picked for Royals, because of the Jack Kirby and Stan Lee connection, that through-line right back to the early days of the Fantastic Four - the Inhumans, particularly the royal family, were definitely one of the big ideas of a run that's not short on big ideas. I feel like from the beginning, they've been a little out there, a kind of hybrid of regular Marvel and a stranger, more science-fiction-y area, and we're definitely going to be in that tradition.
Nrama: The Royals are some of Marvel’s most unique characters in terms of designs and powersets. How do you plan to capture that off-the-wall spirit in their adventures?
Ewing: See above! We're going to be off the wall - a little different from the norm. Physically, we're going to put increasing distance between ourselves and the main Marvel Universe - our first arc is heading out into the wilds of Marvel space, and then after that we're going further, to places and stars never seen before. And after that, the plan is to loop back to Marvel Earth and bring it all with us. If everything goes to plan, we're going to be making some big additions to the mighty Marvel mythos.
Nrama: Along with familiar faces like Black Bolt, Medusa, and Gorgon, you’ve added some interesting characters to Royals – particularly Marvel Boy. How did you arrive at this line-up, and how does Marvel Boy fit into the Inhuman dynamic?
Ewing: I wanted a non-Inhuman in there, just for flavor, and when Wil suggested Marvel Boy, I jumped at it. He's one of the few Young Avengers we haven't seen much of, and like the Inhumans, he's a little outside the rest of Marvel - most of his stories since his debut have been about him trying to find himself and his place in one way or another. So he's an interesting guy to take away from the Earth, away from this place where he's been trying to build a life for himself, and out into the void, which is where he came from. He started as a crewmember on a starship on a quest - now he's back in that role, but with everything he's learned since. It'll be interesting.
Nrama: What are the Royals up against in this series? What are their goals?
Ewing: Here's where I run up against the spoiler curtain, so I'm going to put this in vague terms. Essentially, they're looking for the secret of the universe, and how it relates to Terrigen, the substance that gives Inhumans their powers, and in a real way provides each of them with an identity of their own. Their entire culture is built around this stuff, and there are secrets about it they don't know. And that will end up tying into the Kree, and the Universal Inhumans, and various other bits and pieces. It's your basic mythic quest for knowledge, in space.
Nrama: Marvel has a deep-seated secret history revolving around the Inhumans, the Kree, the Celestials, and so forth. With Royals taking the Inhumans to deep space, will they start to unravel some of these secrets?
Ewing: Definitely. At least one giant secret will be revealed at the end of the first arc, and more after that, leading up to that giant mythos-shaking revelation I teased earlier. People can expect some big stuff along the way.
Nrama: Will we see any other of Marvel’s cosmic characters pop up in Royals?
Ewing: Yes! You can expect Ronan The Accuser in the first arc - Crystal's ex-husband and lost love. Last time we saw him, he'd been transformed by the Black Vortex - the same story where Hala was destroyed. Ronan's been hanging around on the lifeless rock of Hala ever since, mourning the death of his world. By a strange coincidence, the Kree were briefly ruled by the Inhuman Royal Family - before they abandoned their post, not bothering to return even when Hala was murdered. But I'm sure that won't lead to any conflict when Ronan - did I mention he now has incredibly powerful cosmic abilities that could wipe the floor with a dozen Inhumans? - sees them again.
Nrama: You’re working on Royals with Jonboy Meyers, whose art has been in demand in recent months. What does he capture in the Inhumans that another artist could not? What’s your favorite thing he’s drawn for Royals so far?
Ewing: He's got a kind of wild energy to his stuff. It really leaps off the page. I'm consciously trying to get a bit more all-out action into the book because of that, but I'm also getting him to draw some weird stuff as well - at some point I ask every artist to draw some weird stuff - and so far I'm really enjoying what he's doing with that. Plus I like his design work - all the Inhumans have various outfits that he's designed, and in most cases, rather than saying "Well, I'd like to pick Design A for so-and-so, and that Design C for such-and-such", I've been thinking in terms of "well, they could wear that on a desert planet, and that'd be good for heavy combat, and that's more ceremonial..." It's fun. I want to use them all. I want the whole line of action figures.
Nrama: You’ve teased that one of the cast will die in the series. Obviously you can’t reveal who that is, but why tell us now? Will they stay dead, or is this another Marvel stunt?
Ewing: I'm telling you now - and I'm phrasing it a certain way, with a whiff of prophecy and myth to it - because it makes it all a bit more real. Every cliffhanger has a bit of weight to it now. It's not "How will they get out of this?” It's "Will they get out of this? Because we know for a fact that one of them eventually won't, and I kind of like them all." If I told you the mission was dangerous, you'd kind of nod along, but you wouldn't believe it - if I say someone's definitely not coming back, and write that in letters of fire on a rock at the end of humanity, that hopefully piques the reader's interest at least a tiny bit.
Nrama: Marvel has put a major focus on the Inhumans in recent years. What sets these characters apart and makes them vital to the current Marvel Universe?
Ewing: They don't fit into the boxes. They're not heroes - they've done some awful things - and at the same time, they're not villains. They're not aliens, but they're not part of human society either - although thanks to the NuHumans, any part of human society can be part of them. They're their own complicated thing, unique and weird, a little piece of pure sci-fi with a toe-hold in standard superheroics. I think there's a worry that that can make them hard to identify with, particularly Inhumans like the Royals that haven't ever been part of human culture, but at the same time I feel like there are some rich story rewards waiting there, and we've seen previous creative teams do some great things with them.
Nrama: What is something you haven’t told anyone else about Royals? What can readers expect as the title rolls on?
Ewing: I'm trying to remember what I've told people now! Let's see... People know about the Universal Inhumans, and the other galaxies, and the Last Inhuman... There is one thing. I've been thinking about the Skyspears, and I've talked to Charles Soule, and will again when I next see him, about his ideas for the Skyspears. Essentially you can expect Skyspears at some point, probably in the second arc. I know people have been very curious about those freaky Skyspears. So there's that.