So here we are. After seasons of stories about Inhumans on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., after years of this project languishing in development hell, we finally get a live-action version of the Inhuman Royal Family. To make this easier, I’ll try to explain the major figures and concepts up front, since the show actually does a remarkably poor job of clarifying them.
Black Bolt (Anson Mount) is the King of the Inhumans and rules his people from their secret stronghold of Attilan, located on the dark side of the moon. His power is a supersonic voice; the slightest whisper can unleash untold devastation. As a result, he doesn’t talk much. Some writers find ways around this — in the current Black Bolt solo comic from writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Christian Ward, for instance, the Inhuman king is temporarily derived of his powers while in a cosmic prison and therefore speaks sometimes. Unfortunately, the show has not yet come up with such a workaround, so Mount mostly glowers silently (said Black Bolt comic is very good in general, and I highly suggest checking it out, especially if you’re disappointed by the show).
His wife Medusa (Serinda Swan) is Queen of Attilan. Her power lays in her hair, which is super strong and powerful. She is capable of speaking for the royal family when her husband cannot, and indeed has occasionally ruled the Inhumans without him at times in the comics.
Gorgon (Eme Ikwuakor) is captain of the royal guard. His power takes the form of hoof legs, which are capable of generating seismic waves.
Karnak (Ken Leung) is a royal adviser. His power is especially difficult to understand in the show, but suffice to say he can see the weakness in anything.
Triton (Mike Moh) is amphibious. He looks the most non-human of the Inhumans, with green fish scales and the ability to live underwater.
Maximus (Iwan Rheon) is Black Bolt’s brother. Somewhat less powerful, he is nevertheless a devious schemer. In the comics, he is even known as “Maximus the Mad,” but that epithet is missing from the show, along with his corresponding mad-scientist skills.
Crystal (Isabelle Cornish) is Medusa’s younger sister, capable of controlling elements like fire and ice.
Lockjaw is a big slobbering dog with the power to teleport anywhere. Crystal’s best friend, he is easily the best of the Inhumans.
Triton is actually the first one we meet in the show. He’s arrived on Earth in order to help new Inhumans find refuge in Attilan and even finds such an Inhuman girl with yellow eyes (not all Inhuman powers are useful). Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. A band of gun-toting soldiers pursue them and appear to shoot down both of them. Why Black Bolt chose Triton, of all of them, for a covert mission to Earth remains a mystery.
Following that, the action moves to Attilan, where we see what Terrigenesis transformation is supposed to look like. The Inhumans in the MCU were activated by Terrigen crystals leaked into the planet’s water supply, but on Attilan, they have the real stuff: Pure, uncut Terrigen crystals. And instead of a bar mitzvah or quinceañera, the Inhuman coming-of-age ceremony has young people expose themselves to Terrigen crystals to discover their true selves. We see both a boy and a girl go in, but while the girl gets some lovely blue wings, the boy seems unaffected. Maximus appears sympathetic, given that he also lacks any major Terrigen power, but the boy does appear to have a new talent, albeit a non-physical one. After going into a short seizure, he tells Maximus he had a vision of him being attacked by snakes.
Aside from Maximus, the other Inhumans are less impressed with the boy’s apparent non-transformation, and demand he be sent to the mines. See, as it turns out, the Inhumans are not quite the X-Men parallel Marvel has been trying to turn them into in recent years. Where the X-Men are multicultural champions of diversity and difference, the Inhumans are a rigid caste society built on slavery. Maximus thinks that should change, and it’s hard not to sympathize with him. (Recap continues on page 2)