The Fifth Color – The Triumph of the Inhuman Spirit
Yeah, yeah, I know. Tomorrow is indeed the Fourth of July and most have stirring visions of Captain America already mixed about their brains. Captain America: Reborn has set us on a path to recapture our Greatest Generation’s hero of choice perhaps with a depth and breadth of understanding of our country, patriotism and this symbol of the ol’ USA none of us would have had without the insightful storytelling of Mr. Ed Brubaker…
… but we’re going to skip all that today. Captain America posts on Independence Day are kind of cliché, don’t you think? And since Captain America: Reborn #1 is just starting out what could very well be Act Three of the epic tale that is Brubaker’s Grand Design, well. The man isn’t done with it yet, so we can save the throwing of roses and the ticker tape parades for how awesome he is for when he’s done getting to the awesome parts at the end of his awesomeness (SPOILER: it’s gonna be awesome).
Let’s instead turn towards a story that’s coming to its own close and the war of Independence that no one may win after all.
When the Inhumans rose Atillan out of the surface of the moon at the conclusion of Secret Invasion, Queen Medusa made a very impassioned speech about the essential purpose of the Inhuman race and the final call to embrace it. It was a good speech and it was absolutely truthful; for the longest time, the Inhumans had been background filler for the Fantastic Four, special guest stars when a Marvel hero needed some cool looking backup dancers or valiant heroes of their own who just manage to make it out of danger to go back to their solitary little lives until someone else wants some exotic background characters for their stories. They’re either bounced from the toxic surface of the Earth or from the Blue Area of the Moon, a landscape so desolate it’s no wonder people rolled them over to get to Earth.
But, at heart, the Inhumans should have been able to crush their threats without a second thought. These people were specifically created as a rather ingenious and powerful personal army that would ascend the Kree into the dominant lifeform in the galaxy. The Inhumans have enough variety and creativity that they should have had their own book long ago and it took Abnett and Lanning to usher them into the role that was written for them: kick ass galactic army. Yeah, it was cool to have a pacifistic super race but look where that got them? So they drop the pretense of just wanting to get along and decide to stand up, fight and take their destiny to the stars, a freedom to do as they wish and that first wish goes to conquering the Kree.
Right back to where it started, Secret Invasion: War of Kings (or is it War of Kings: Secret Invasion? Does it matter?) had the Inhumans lift off and burn their way through space to nearly drop themselves right on the boots of Ronan the Accuser, a man who once challenged their right to self-govern, like Dorothy’s house on the Wicked Witch of the East. Medusa declared their intentions towards their former keepers, basically calling the ‘put up or shut up’ card: the Kree wanted a personal army of genetic supermen that would usher their race into a new evolutionary era? Well, brother, you got it, but not on your terms and not under your rule. Having barely made it out of Annihilation: Conquest with any sort of dignity intact, the Kree are without direction and without their Supreme Intelligence, a near-omniscient source that the Kree had followed for millions of years. Should this have happened a few years ago, pre-Annihilations, the Kree would have slapped the Inhumans around some then put them under their dominion. Nowadays, the Kree willingly give up their sovereignty with a couple words.
Sure, there’s been some civil unrest but the victories in battle and the compassion of Princess Diana Crystal pretty much put complaints to rest. The Inhumans had been a ‘free’ people before and all they had gotten for it was tragedy and a guest spot on the Fantastic Four. Preaching a very positive message of the greatest power being held in check and a desire to bring understanding to both Inhumans and humans hasn’t gotten them as far as kicking and explosions have. We the reader can look back at his juxtaposition from a distance and say ‘Ha ha, irony!’ as the culture the Kree once thought to enslave is now calling the shots. But, my friends, it doesn’t end there. If it did, we’d have a little abject lesson to chew on through the series and probably would find ourselves at the end of it having learned a little something as the galaxy rights itself again. It’s just not going to be that easy and if you’ve been reading the Marvel Space Odysseys, you’d have been ready for that from the start.
War of Kings #5 came out this Wednesday and added a whole new loophole to the idea of Inhuman ‘freedom’. In order to call a halt to this War of Kings (just like the title of the book!), the Inhumans have weaponized their Terrigen Mists and created a massive sonic-genetic bomb (shut up, it’s science) that would mutate people across worlds, therefore uniting the Shi’ar as Inhumans by force and did no one say this plan out loud to realize how crazy it sounds? Desperate times call for desperate measures, sure. The death of Lillandra Nermani pretty much promised us we weren’t going back to a tidy status quo and we were going to get some serious repercussions out of this, but a genetic reboot of the galaxy? Are the Inhumans so married to this new idea of freedom that they are willing to go against everything they had stood for previously to enslave another culture and bring another kicking and screaming into their fold? Did any of them read Earth X? The entire series and even before, Emperor Vulcan has been written as so villainous and crazy that he should be drawn less as a Caligula figure and more as a Snidely Whiplash. It could have been as simple as getting on the loudspeaker and calling his haircut silly to get him riled up enough to charge out to the field of battle himself. He enjoys watching his Empire dance before him like puppets but the man is unhinged; it’s not some great leap of logic that he could be coaxed out into a duel to the death for the whole bag of marbles but that isn’t the point of War of Kings. This is a fight for the Inhuman race’s right to fulfill their destiny, to be the galaxy’s finest warriors and to uplift the Kree race by any means necessary.
I’m sure Black Bolt regretted that he has but one life to give for his people, but such sacrifices weren’t necessary after all as by the end of issue #5, Emperor CrazyPants has torn through the T-Bomb Black Bolt had been planning to personally hurl down the Shi’ar’s throats. The final battle will come down to two Kings both with blood on their hands but only one for the right reasons.