With the Inhumans starting to show up in ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., building to the 2019 film, we thought it might be time to start the discussion on who they are, what they are, what they can do and what we can expect.
First of all, as we sort of learned from S.H.I.E.L.D., the Inhumans are genetic “abominations” created through Kree experiments thousands of years ago on Earth. They were originally designed to be weapons for the Kree, to fight their wars for them in distant quadrants of the galaxy that are more difficult for the Kree to get to. However, they were eventually left behind on Earth, forgotten, forced to form their own society among the humanity that was starting to evolve around them.
Set apart from the other sentient beings on Earth, the Inhumans built a society all of their own and secreted their Kingdom away in the Himalayas.
However, they end up being discovered by The Fantastic Four in Fantastic Four #45, when Johnny Storm falls for an Inhuman named Crystal and follows her to a hideout where they then discover the Inhuman Royal family of Medusa, Gorgon, Karnak, their transporting dog Lockjaw and the enigmatic King Blackagar Boltagon, otherwise known as Black Bolt. They are taken to the hidden Himalayan city of Attilan where the Fantastic Four learn about the culture.
The culture is based purely around the idea of Terrigenesis and willingly dedicating yourself to the role fate determines for you. Terrigenesis is the process through which an Inhuman adolescent exposes themselves to the mists of the Terrigen Crystals and reveal their inner selves. This is where they get their special powers, sometimes defensive in nature, sometimes offensive, sometimes purely cerebral — the powers are all meant to be used in service to the Inhumans, whether it’s by being a doctor, a judge, a scientist or a soldier.
An entire family’s pride is wrapped up in this. For instance, in the Marvel Knights run by Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee, an Inhuman named Tonaja emerged from the Terrigen Chamber with wings, becoming the first winged Inhuman in a generation. However, her BFF and love interest, Woz, emerged as what’s called an Alpha Primitive — more or less a slave, created to work in the mines under the city. His family, subsequently, disowns him. None of this is decided by anyone, it’s all a roll of the dice, but families can rise and fall based on what the process “decides.”
Their King, at least until recently, was Black Bolt, an Inhuman with a voice so powerful it can explode mountains with a whisper. As such, he doesn’t really talk too much. Instead, he communicates to his Kingdom and subjects telepathically through his wife, Queen Medusa, who’s hair is prehensile and as strong as steel.
In the current incarnation, the City of Attilan has relocated to the Hudson River where it remains it’s own sovereign country. Black Bolt, in order to save his city and help defeat Thanos during the Infinity Crisis, set off a Terrigen bomb that sent out a cloud, activating any Inhuman genes that were hidden throughout the human population. People that didn’t even know they were Inhumans suddenly found themselves in a cocoon of their own creation, then suddenly emerging with new bodies and new powers. They were then all claimed by various other Inhuman cities, revealing that there are more Inhumans out there than just Attilan.
Among them are two new Inhumans, referred to as NuHumans in the comics, named Naja and Reader. Reader is speculated to be THIS guy in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D .
He has the power to make whatever he reads become a reality, which is why the Inhumans make him read in braille.
A lot of people believed Raina had turned into Naja, though now it appears she’s solely the creation of the show.
There are a lot more NuHumans and Inhumans to sort through for the show to use and, as we’ve already seen, a character established as neither mutant nor Inhuman, Daisy Johnson a.k.a. Quake, has now an Inhuman in the show. It’s also widely assumed that Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver may actually be Inhumans and not mutants.
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