After years of trying to fold the X-Men into the background and have the Inhumans step up to the plate, Marvel finally seems content to bring the two teams to the roles they originally had. This week, we’re covering the brand new Legion mini-series based on one of the most insane X-Men ever, but will the comic live up to the television series’ namesake? Elsewhere, the Inhumans (as we currently know them) are coming to an end, come see our thoughts and reactions to this week’s books in The Marvel Rundown!
Written by Peter Milligan
Illustrated by Wilfredo Torres
Colored by Dan Brown
Lettered by VC’s Travis Lanham
Alexander Jones: AJ, Marvel has resurrected the Legion concept for brand new miniseries thanks to a recent television series. Did you get lost in David Haller’s trippy adventures through multiple planes of existence or did you take joy in the issues’ visual nods into the psychedelic landscape of the Marvel Universe?
AJ Frost: Hey Alex. Not gonna lie, this is a trippy issue. Fourth walls and fifth walls come tumbling down in a story truly off the proverbial walls. It was interesting to me how the issue feels non-linear while still being rooted firmly in the linearity of the superhero quest. As the main character, David Haller is both our guide and our tormentor. He’s unreliable and susceptible to the manifold voices reverberating around his head. We never know what exactly Haller is thinking: his manifest personalities not only physically and psychologically attack him, but they also leave us wondering what exactly their next move is.
Jones: With someone who has a background on the character from the television series but not the comics, I loved how this doesn’t seem to cater to fans of the show. Haller still gets to keep his incredible haircut and connections to the greater Marvel Universe. Getting both sides of the story and seeing Peter Milligan push Legion into a new direction which doesn’t pander towards newer fans or existing ones make this the kind of comic I want to see Marvel publish more often. The pages have a casual, approachable vibe but aren’t afraid to dive belly-up into the weird. Shockingly enough, I think the television show might actually be stranger than the material featured in this comic but there’s still a lot more issues to come. As a stranger to Haller, how did you interpret the plot and what kind of reaction did it elicit from you?
Frost: Lamentably, I haven’t yet watched the show. I think, however, this allowed me to come into this comic with fresh eyes and no expectations. It is nice to know every Marvel property doesn’t cater exclusively to the hardcore reader.
And yeah, the hair is insane.
Jones: This is a rare case of a first issue actually being a first issue which I think is definitely cause for celebration. Wilfredo Torres’ art is very pretty and has a really nice vibe, but I want him to kick into overdrive in the next couple chapters. The artist has a license to go absolutely insane and should dial up the weird or even try to match the crazy covers of the book. There’s a lot of potential here and even though this is a very good start to the story, not everything on the table is being realized. What did you think of the second half of the comic introducing (who I think) is a new character? Milligan took chances by shuffling her into the field and spending so much screen time with her.
Frost: That’s the thing about this issue which was so interesting to me: there’s never a sense of what is true from the character’s perspective. David’s unreliability as the focus of the narrative means every turn of the page introduces something weirder than the last. The character you’re talking about is, I presume, Hannah Jones, the “celebrity psychologist?” She’s fascinating because she is both a reader surrogate and an ambiguous player in the larger plot. Besides knowing little of her backstory (indeed, she’s just known as a bit of a British Dr. Phil), the reasons why we should care about her are pretty slim. Slim, until we see her subjected to increasingly bizarre ordeals. I quite enjoyed seeing everything escalate on the scales of the strange.
Jones: I want to see how Jones is directly integrated into the plot which the last page teases. It is interesting to take a story like this and compare it to recent Doctor Strange or even Doctor Who stories where the madcap brilliance and weird supernatural monsters are all there. The other interesting part of the book is writer Peter Milligan who has a ton of different modes he operates in-he seems so focused with the plot and only gives a sprinkle of oddities portrayed in David’s fight with one of his evil personalities. What did you think of Torres’ art?
Frost: There were pockets of great energy and nice background details. The writing and the dialogue were more what I focused on in this issue–what were your thoughts on the art?
Jones: Torres takes excellent risks here and fills out the pages with exciting shifts or different scenes which really draw me in the comic in a pretty major way. The hospital sequence, in particular, is very well drawn and tows the line between psychedelic wonderland and a man trying to lay low against all odds. Some of the facial features can be understated and I wish Torres was more aggressive with his choices of layout but I was still satisfied overall with the direction of the art and the material on the page. Do you have anything else to say about the book?
Frost: There’s certainly nothing wrong with it and Torres is a good artist. Perhaps it would be more diplomatic to say that it wasn’t my cup of tea (I’ve been reading of indie stuff lately, so going back into the mainstream is always a jolt for the senses). My final thoughts are that this is a solid and odd book with a lot of potential for growth and greatness.
Jones: There’s certainly enough goodwill bought in these pages to merit this comic to be a BUY for me. Going forward, I would love for the team to shoot for the moon and keep their strong focus.
Frost: Yup! This is a BUY from me as well.
Final Verdict: AJ and Alex say BUY!
Inhumans: Judgement Day #1
Written by Al Ewing
Illustrated by Mike Del Mundo and Kevin Libranda
Inked by Marc Deering
Colored by Jose Villarrubia
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Reviewed by Alexander Jones
I know the snarky comment about the Inhumans every commenter is going to bring this thread. However, if every comic starring the set of characters was as beautiful as Inhumans: Judgement Day #1, I think we would see less of those responses.
With the swell of different comics focusing on this set of superheroes coming to an end, Inhumans: Judgement Day #1 brings the cast back-to-basics and sets up the status quo going forward. To be honest, the expansion of the line and lots of the newer ideas crafted by Ewing are going away, yet the story still feels like a breath of fresh air. The royal family is making their way home but Black Bolt and Medusa have some unfinished business to attend to here before they can reach their happy ending. On top of everything else this comic achieves, it features various beautiful spreads from one of Marvel’s most talented artists: Mike Del Mundo. Mundo’s vision for the title and pages recapping recent events are breathtaking and cleverly interspersed with Kevin Libranda’s more conventional art which also goes over surprisingly well. Against all odds, Mundo, Ewing, and Libranda seem to be on the same page imbuing the relationship scenes with beauty and heart.
After being separated for a considerable amount of time, Black Bolt and Medusa have a few thrilling character moments and an emotional reunion which quickly becomes exceedingly dour. Ewing doesn’t simply put the pieces back together with the two different heroes, he also takes the time to explore where their relationship is and why it has been so stagnant and troubled recently. The different heroes surrounding the story which have been added in recent years are also not forgotten, Ewing still gives time to explore Inhumans mainstays like Swain and Flint. He also has final words to say about the Progenitors before passing off the baton to the next set of creators. With so many stories surrounding the different Inhumans cast members in recent years, Ewing has a lot of ground to cover and still doesn’t make the narrative feel compressed or rushed either–he also makes sure to throw Black Bolt and Medusa towards the center of the story while filling in the rest of the ground he covered as well.
While Mundo is an exceptional artist, his storytelling can become crowded when digested in the scope of a full set of interiors. Thankfully, Libranda fills in the rest of the narrative and breaks up the pacing of the comic nicely. The art is clean and shows off the large cast of the book. When the Progenitors join the fray, the art becomes vivid and psychedelic.
It can be a little bittersweet to consider the fact that Marvel is returning the heroes back to the status quo immediately following the events of the issue but Ewing does a great job giving readers the payoff they are looking for from the Royal family. I enjoyed seeing both Black Bolt and Medusa reunited and earning the chance to finally go home and hope the characters can maintain a sense of happiness going forward. While this is far from the end of the Inhumans franchise, it is the end of an era and a time in the life of the Inhumans.
Final Verdict: BUY. If you are at all interested in seeing the end of a status quo for the Inhumans make sure to pick up this epilogue to Royals.
Next week, it’s a tale of two Jean Greys and one Marvel Universe!
Fruit snack aficionado. @AlexandComics