That’s right, folks. On a day that featured the release of two event books (Trinity 1 and Secret Invasion 3), I’m going to review an almost universally ignored pseudo-event from last year. Ha ha!
I’m a big fan of the Inhumans. I became interested in the “team” through the Heralds of Galactus expansion of VS System, but it was reading the Son of M mini from the Decimation “event” that got me hooked. That led to me going back to read the Paul Jenkins/Jae Lee 12 issue Marvel Knights series, which was quite excellent. One of the things I really dig about the Inhumans is the sort of caste system that we have set up in Attilan. You’ve got the Royal Family at the top of the chain, followed by the Royal Guard and the rest of the standard citizens, with the Alpha Primitives at the bottom. I wanted to read Silent War due to its coming out of the events of Son of M, and I picked up issues 2 through 6 at the Wild Pig sale in October of last year. Didn’t read them, of course, until I finally got around to getting the first issue at Wizard World Philly this past Sunday. I pulled out the rest of the series and gave it a read.
First thing’s first, I really like the way that David Hine decided to expand on the slight framing device from Inhumans, where certain issues were written from various perspectives (Lockjaw and Triton, for example). Silent War pushes this device to the forefront, having the caption narrative handled by a different character for each issue. Gorgon, Crystal, Luna, Medusa, Maximus and The Sentry (that’s right. The Sentry) all give a different perspective on exactly what’s going on in the Inhumans’ war on Earth. And once again, it all comes down to Black Bolt. It’s a further exploration of exactly how a society deals with a leader and monarch who cannot speak and never shows his entire hand. There’s a lot more going on here from a plot perspective, with terrigen crystals being misappropriated and government conspiracies, and an appearance by X-Factor and some Attilan political intrigue, but this story is really about the characters. The arrogance and desperation of Quicksilver. The slow loss of innocence of Luna. Medusa’s frustration in dealing with her husband and his problems with communication. Black Bolt’s reaction to betrayal in his ranks and the tension that comes from his inability to release. And you’ve got another Sentry issue with him staying out of a fight in the standard Sentry way, but his narrative is not actually written like a child. It’s so refreshing. You’ve got a guy that rationally realizes that if he joins a fight that involves Black Bolt, it’s going to escalate to the point that both men would have to let loose, which could easily lead to the destruction of the eastern seaboard. There’s no whining about The Void. There’s no babying of him by the rest of the Mighty Avengers. It’s the best handling of The Sentry since the original Jenkins work. In fact, all the writing in this book seems to be a love letter to those two Jenkins works (Sentry and Inhumans).
We’ve got some pretty crazy art going on here too. Frazer Irving’s painted style is strongly reminiscent of early 1920’s expressionist art and film, using angled architecture and at times very over exaggerated facial expressions and movements. He does some neat little tricks here and there too, including a much appreciated and well executed homage to Edvard Munch’s The Scream involving Black Bolt in issue four. It many ways, the use of Irving here is another call back to the Jenkins/Lee book, as he follows in Jae Lee’s tradition of using darker and more muted tones to characterize Attilan as more of a prison than a home. Irving does an excellent job with the Inhumans themselves and all the other crazy terrigenesis’ed folks you see in the book. The art is definitely not for everyone. But I quite like it, and I think it’s well suited for the subject matter.
I guess the last thing to talk about is the ending. It’s a pretty big change to the status quo of the Inhumans and Attilan. And it sets up quite a lot of potential for the future. But it has also been pretty much ignored in the continuity of the Marvel Universe. We’ve got two hooks here. It’s after Civil War (as the Mighty Avengers show up) and it’s before World War Hulk (the attack on the opera house was mentioned as one of Black Bolt’s transgressions). But we see in World War Hulk that Black Bolt is still in charge of his people, and the events didn’t factor in to New Avengers: Illuminati or any of the Secret Invasion stuff thus far. So it’s a story without a time. You know what? Who cares? This is a very well written and well drawn book. What else do we need? I loved the hell out of the story, and I do want to see the continuation of a Maximus and Ahura led Inhuman civilization, how long it takes to fall apart and how Black Bolt comes back into prominence. Hopefully we’ll see that one day. Inhumans fans should definitely read this, but for those not familiar with the events, it’s a good idea to at least read Son of M and possibly Marvel Knights Inhumans as well. Great stuff.