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Friday, December 12, 2014

Marvel's Inhuman Push

 http://www.panelsandpixels.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Inhuman-Teaser.jpg

Newsflash:  Marvel really, really wants you to like the Inhumans.  

Problem:  Most people even many Marvel fans have no idea who the Inhumans are.

Related:
Inhumans CheatSheet for Agents of SHIELD fans
Why did Marvel double orders on Inhuman #8?

Sometime last year I began noticing a bigger push around the Inhumans.  The Inhumans used be this group that came and went.  They would make appearances in Fantastic 4 books, then make appearances in major cosmic events but then they would go back to Attilan (Their city) and hide out.  Never over my years as a Marvel fan have I felt that the Inhumans were on the forefront of the Marvel universe.  Even events like War of Kings and Realm of Kings featured other groups along with the Inhumans.

Then something happened...

The Why

There are rumors that Marvel will no longer be pushing merchandise from Fantastic 4 or X-Men.  There are even rumors that neither franchise will have a comic series in the future.  WOWZA.  As a seeming substitute the Inhumans will be taking a more prominent spot in the comic universe.  Why is this so?  Well it is really simple it is about Movies.

Marvel owns the film rights to the Inhumans, but they sold the film rights to the X-Men and F4 to other studios.  Apparently, the relationship between Fox and Marvel is really bad.  When X-Men DOFP hit the theaters there were no toys or merchandise tie-ins related to the X-Men.  The movie was actually really good but Marvel chose to do nothing extra to go along with it.   The Lego X-Men with Wolverine and the Sentinel actually came out months after the movie.

A new Fantastic 4 movie is being made and when it comes out Marvel will likely do the same thing.  There will likely be no comic tie-ins, no toys, no t-shirts......there will be zilch.

Bold moves like canceling the perennially popular comic series the X-Men are even more risky.  They could alienate the Marvel's fan base.  Marvel seems to have entered a kind of war mode against SONY/FOX and is playing a game of chicken with them.  The confidence Marvel is showing in this display is impressive.  It looks like they think they can take the very unknown franchise of the Inhumans and effectively use it to take over the spot of their former great property the X-Men.  One of the defining traits of the Marvel universe was mutants, going forward it will be Inhumans. 

What is most crazy is that Marvel has become so good at making its own films that I think these bold moves will work.  What is crazy is that the Inhumans being backed by both the comic and film powers of Marvel really could become the next big thing.

SO What is Marvel doing?

The What

In the comic universe the first thing I noticed was that on free comic book day (May 2014) Marvel began giving out promo cards for the new Inhuman series.  They were pretty cool, but still most people at the time were focused on the Guardians of the Galaxy and Rocket Raccoon.  I think the average fan was like why are they pushing this new Inhuman series so much.

The cards showed both new characters and old and were very cool.  It turns out that some of these cards were more important than most realized at the time.  I did a quick E-Bay search and people are already selling these in anticipation of incoming demand.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/518cootismL.jpg

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/516p6pgt6yL.jpg

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51g51RKG36L.jpg

The Inhuman #1 even featured a variant cover that used the art from the cards.   It is a pretty cool cover and will seem cooler when people realize how important it is.

http://i.annihil.us/u/prod/marvel/i/mg/f/10/53308acfbc7cd/background.jpg


The Inhuman series launches and it is very good.  Though I would not say that it has gotten an insane amount of press or sales.  I don't think it is selling like hotcakes or anything.  When I look at reviews of comics there are very few reviews of the Inhuman series.  It is very good, and if you are reading this then you will likely want to start checking it out.

However, Marvel was not done with their Inhuman push yet.  No things were just getting started.

First Marvel announced its upcoming film slate and one of the movies was:  INHUMANS slated to come out in November 2018.
I thought this news was pretty exciting.  However, during the announcement Marvel also let fans know that they were releasing movies like Captain Marvel, Black Panther, a Civil War Captain America, and a 2 part Avengers event called Infinity War.  Oh yeah and they introduced the new Black Panther.  In the flurry of all that news the Inhumans did not get too much attention.

http://www.movienewz.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/inhumans.jpg

The most noticeable Inhumans push has come from speculation that the Inhumans are going to be featured in Agents of SHIELD and tie into the origins of the character Skye.  As Season 2 started in Fall of 2014 it became fairly clear that the show was marching toward the Inhumans.  However, the show has still never used the word Inhuman.  The showrunners did not explicitly reveal that the Inhuman speculation was right until after the Midseason finale.  Without an explicit explanation in the series casual fans still do not know that Inhumans have even been introduced.

What perhaps is more awkward about the MCU introduction of Inhumans on Agents of SHIELD is the fact that with the movie coming out years from now in 2018 there is no chance that any of the more popular characters from the comics appear in the show.  That is a major handicap in introducing a franchise like the Inhumans that is not very well known in the first place.

If Agents of SHIELD can't use the main Inhuman characters from the Inhuman Royal Family then who are they supposed to use?  Well Marvel has a plan.  Do you remember those cards I mentioned being given out on free comic book day last May?  The ones introducing new Inhuman characters to the populace?  Well those new Inhuman characters fell into two veins.
1) Older Inhumans living amongst humanity and apart from the Royal Family. 
2) Numen - whoare new Inhumans created on Earth when Terregen Mist leaked out across the Earth.

Both of these groups of new characters are separate from the Royal Family.  They will not be the main focus of the Inhuman movie in 2018.  What this comic series has done is supply the show Agents of SHIELD with an Inhuman sandbox to play in.

The Agents of SHIELD mid-season finale showed a character at the end of the show who was an Inhuman with no eyes.  I believe this is one of the characters introduced early on in the Inhuman comic series and one that was featured on the promo cards above.  (For more on the eyeless man see --> Who is the blind eyeless man? in AOS midseason finale )
That is right those old cards that seemed cool but out of place back last May now are becoming more important and far more relevant.

The show also showed the process of Terrigenisis and even revealed a Terrigen Crystal.
Want me to geek out, show me this, yup still geeking out


Meanwhile, Marvel has begun increasing the number of Inhuman books sent to retailers with the expectation that the Agents of SHIELD story will increase demand.  The series will likely continue to be important to both the Marvel comic universe and the events taking place on Agents of SHIELD.  I still don't know if enough people are connecting these dots to drive up demand in the way that Marvel is hoping but we will see.


The Next:

Inhumans are going to be in Agents of SHIELD 's 2nd half of Season 2.  They could actually be the primary antagonists / heroes and focus of the rest of Season 2.  Both Skye and Raina are Inhumans or Numans depending on your perspective.  They will continue to explore their origins and that will no doubt lead them to other Inhumans.

Also I would not rule out an event like the Terrigen Bomb that impacted the comic universe also happening in Agents of SHIELD.  In fact many Marvel followers speculated that the obelisk/diviner could have been such a device.  The purpose of the Terrigen Bomb would be to spread the chemical that gives the Inhumans there powers all over the planet, creating super powered people all over the Earth.  These super powered people would be discriminated against much like an old group that Marvel spent time on, you might remember them, they were called mutants.

In the comic world the big Marvel event of 2015 is going to be Secret War.  Included with the promos of a slew of events was one for the Inhumans called "Inhumans:  Attilan Rising".
I know nothing about it other than the title and the promo image below:



The Hope
My hope is that Marvel helps connect the dots on all of these moving parts.  Marvel likes to leave little bread crumbs that connect the dots just enough for uber geeks to piece the full puzzle together.  Generally, I really like this approach.  That said the fact that Marvel is introducing a relatively unknown franchise, and shifting their entire comic and cinematic universe around it, calls for something more.

Marvel.com had a one page article up this week on Who are the Inhumans.  It said almost nothing.  Marvel in my opinion should be doing more.

I would really like to see a special Inhumans comic book to be released with the start of the 2nd half of Agents of SHIELD.  Maybe something that explains the inner workings of who the Inhumans are, the different groups they are introducing etc.  Why not reveal a caste member from the movie, because I have a good feeling they have one guy locked down already.  Providing a face to one of the main characters especially if it is who I think it is, will generate massive news.  Combine the Movie, TV and Comic and align all of these things at one time and I think the Inhumans will start getting the focus that Marvel wants them to.  If they do this the 2nd half of  Season 2 will launch with everyone excited to see how the Inhumans are further built out.  They will also be able thrust the Attilan Rising comic event to the forefront of the Marvel comic universe (Where I am sure they want it to be).

Related:
Inhumans CheatSheet for Agents of SHIELD fans
Why did Marvel double orders on Inhuman #8?

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