Once again, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is climbing to yet another new plateau. After fourteen films, including this month’s senses-shattering Doctor Strange, as well as four critically acclaimed TV series — Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — they aren’t slowing down. Yesterday, Marvel and ABC announced that next year will see the premiere of an entirely new sort of superhero series: Marvel’s The Inhumans.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been quietly setting these guys up for a long time, but this new series will mark a turning point: the Inhumans, a mysterious humanoid species given strange powers by exposure to the so-called Terrigen Mist, are headed toward the spotlight. If you think the X-Men are gifted with an array of unusual powers, just wait until you meet the so-called “Royal Family” of the Inhumans, a group who reign peacefully over the lost city of Attilan, a location that has moved between such diverse regions as the ocean, the Himalayas, and the Blue Area of the Moon.
Yes, that’s right. The “Blue Area” of the Moon. We’ll warn you now: things are about to get weird.
The first two episodes of Marvel’s The Inhumans will debut in IMAX in September of 2017, two weeks ahead of their TV premiere. Since we’ll soon get the ball rolling with plot speculation, castings, and more, now is the time to study up these bizarre characters and learn who’s who. Here are 15 Inhumans You Need to Know About.
15. Black Bolt
We’ll launch out the gate with the big gun himself: Blackagar Boltagon, better known as Black Bolt, the venerated ruler of the Inhumans. This guy is their Captain America, their Cyclops, the badass leader who everyone depends upon. But like many great leaders, Black Bolt’s strength is also his weakness. His Inhuman power is his voice, and all it takes is a single utterance from his lungs — a word, a sigh, an exhale — to propel forward a hypersonic shockwave capable of reducing an entire city to dust.
Needless to say, possessing an ability so potentially catastrophic means that no one in their right mind messes with Black Bolt, but it did lead to him having a lonely childhood. Shortly after his exposure to the Terrigen Mists unleashed his powers, he was placed in an energy dampening chamber, and trained from infancy to never, ever speak aloud, for fear of the terrible consequences that might result from it. He was only permitted to leave the chamber at the age of 19, once he had mastered the art of not speaking. Now, as the ruler of Attilan, the hidden city that the reclusive Inhumans call home, Black Bolt and his wife Medusa have led their people through some of the city’s most difficult times.
Black Bolt has got an insane level of willpower — consider, for a moment, what it takes for a person to force himself to be completely silent, 24/7, even while asleep — and he’s a genuine tank on the battlefield, capable of beating the Hulk. There’s no doubt that we’ll be seeing a lot of this guy very soon.
If you think that a hypersonic voice is crazy, hold onto your hat, because it only gets crazier from here. Meet Medusa Amaquelin, queen of the Inhumans, and while she may not have snakes crawling around on her head, she does have prehensile, living hair. Every long strand of Medusa’s hair is like another limb, and Medusa has control over every follicle. Her hair is stronger than steel, capable of elongating up to 12 feet, deflecting gunfire, and even performing complex tasks like typing, opening doors, and picking a lock.
Medusa met her future husband, Black Bolt, when the latter was held prisoner in his early years while he was being trained in the art of silence. Medusa found a way to communicate with him through body language, and the two fell in love. Today, Medusa is both queen and translator, knowing her husband to an extent that no one else in the world does, and translating his thoughts into words that others can understand.
Now we’ll spend some time looking at what might be the most unusual member of the Royal Family: Lockjaw, the giant teleporting dog who could soon be Marvel’s next breakout animal character, a la Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy. Yes, we’re talking about the giant, cheerful looking bulldog up there. He’s an Inhuman, too.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, pre-Inhuman humanoids aren’t the only creatures that get mutated by the Terrigen Mist. Though there was at one point some speculation that Lockjaw may have began his life as a human being — and that the mist made him into a dog — this was later revealed to be a prank, and it seems more likely that he’s actually just a once-normal dog who the mist transformed into… well, a bigger dog.
As the loyal pet of the Royal Family, Lockjaw does all of the things that a good, loyal dog does, such as guarding Attilan from intruders or tracking down his family members when they go missing. His enormous size helps in these endeavors, as do his teleportation powers, his ability to sense and/or track creatures across time and space, and his canine talent for devouring anything that gets in his path.
Daisy Johnson, formerly known as Skye, isn’t part of the Inhuman royal family. She’s not a resident of Attilan. But thanks to Chloe Bennet’s portrayal of the character on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Daisy Johnson has now become one of the most recognized Inhumans out there, and we wouldn’t rule out an appearance by her on this new Inhumans series, particularly since both shows will be on ABC.
Quake, as her name implies, has the power to generate seismic vibrations resembling earthquakes. A fairly minor character in the comics, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has elevated Daisy into a major player, and the comics character has actually evolved to become closer to the Daisy on TV. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Daisy is a genius computer hacker and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who goes on to become leader of the Secret Warriors, and eventually a vigilante named Quake. If she does appear, it’ll be exciting to see her interact with the classic Royal Family.
11. Maximus the Mad
With every great hero, there must also come his or her villainous counterpart. In the case of Black Bolt, that counterpart is his younger brother Maximus the Mad, born with sociopathic tendencies, genius intelligence, and then gifted with powerful psionic abilities by his exposure to the Terrigen Mists as a child. Though sometimes hindered by his mental instability — an insanity caused by being too close to the reverberations of Black Bolt’s voice, an event which is sure to rattle the brains of even the sanest people — Maximus is nonetheless a force to be reckoned with, capable of imposing his will upon the minds of others, exchanging bodies with other people, and inducing amnesia upon anyone he wishes.
As a youth, when Black Bolt was finally released from the imprisonment/training that he’d been confined to since birth, Maximus attempted to goad his older brother into speaking, hoping that he would be imprisoned again for breaking the rules. Since then, Maximus has schemed to overthrow Black Bolt and take what he believes to be his rightful place upon the throne of Attilan.
Crystal, Medusa’s younger sister, is another iconic member of the Royal Family, and in the comics, she the first character to ever be recognized on paper as an Inhuman. Luckily for Medusa and Crystal, their sibling relationship is a lot less tense than the one between Black Bolt and Maximus.
Crystal, whose full name is Crystalia Amaquelin, has the power to manipulate the classic four elements as defined by the Greeks: earth, fire, air, and water. She does this on a molecular level, and is thus capable of actions like causing fire to spontaneously ignite (or go out completely), controlling the movement of water, manipulating electricity, creating earthquakes, and shaking up dust storms. She’s got lots of tricks up her sleeve, for sure.
More than most other Inhumans, who tend to be fairly isolationist and reclusive if they can help it, Crystal has a long history of involvement with many of the bigger storylines and characters in the Marvel Universe. She’s a former member of the Fantastic Four and a former Avenger. She also has a daughter, Luna, the first child ever born to an Inhuman mother and a mutant father (Quicksilver). Evidently, the combination of mutated genes cancel each other out, leaving Luna with no powers (until mist exposure, that is).
9. Ahura Boltagon
When Black Bolt and Medusa conceive a child, the situation swiftly becomes controversial. The Genetics Council of Attilan demands that Medusa abort the fetus, arguing that the child may inherit his uncle Maximus’s mental instability, and/or Black Bolt’s terrifying powers. Medusa doesn’t want to give up her child, so she flees back to the human world and gives birth to a son, Ahura. The child is later brought back to the Blue Area of the Moon, where Attilan is stationed at during this time, and then taken in by the Genetics Council.
Things don’t go so well for Ahura.
Whether due to the Genetics Council’s predictions coming true, or because of the fact that this same council holds him prisoner as he grows into a young adult, Ahura indeed grows to be as insane as his uncle Maximus. He also inherits Black Bolt’s tremendous power, which later develops into a telepathic “Evil Eye” that’s capable of instantly killing any living being. Clearly, the tale of Ahura is not the happiest one in Attilan’s history, though in recent years he’s turned things around, and is now CEO of the Ennilux, an ancient Inhuman tribe that in recent decades has become a contemporary Inhuman corporation.
8. Eldrac the Door
Poor, poor Eldrac. While some of the Inhumans have gotten a bit of a raw deal from Terrigen Mist exposure — such as Black Bolt, with his whole “not speaking” thing — it’s hard to imagine that it gets much rawer than Eldrac, who went from being a regular flesh and blood person into being… well, a giant, living, stationary door.
Once a flesh and blood Attilan politican, Eldrac is today better known as Eldrac the Door. Ouch. This is due to the fact that the Terrigen Mists transformed him into a non-organic piece of architecture, and mutated his enormous mouth into an interdimensional doorway used by the more human Inhumans — you know, the ones who still have limbs and can still walk around — to transport between locations. Using Eldrac, the Inhumans can teleport to different locations on the planet, and even travel between dimensions. He’s actually the primary transport hub for Attilan’s population, and his big non-organic body is built into the city itself.
7. The Unspoken
Long ago, the Inhumans of Attilan were ruled by their adored leader, a man we only know today as the Unspoken. The Unspoken was both feared and loved, celebrated and revered. But then, this ruler decided to conceal a weapon from his people, a potentially monstrous device called the Slave Engine — capable of turning regular human beings into unintelligent, obedient “Alpha Primitives” — and his decision to keep the Slave Engine’s location a secret led him into direct confrontation with his cousin, Black Bolt, who subsequently took his place on the throne.
This defeat shocked the old king, who was the most powerful Inhuman in the land, and thus did not expect to be beaten. After the throne was stolen from him, the old king demanded that his deeds be remembered, even though his rule had been taken away. Instead, Black Bolt wiped all records of the Unspoken, his actions, and the Slave Engine from the history books, turning the Unspoken into little more than a children’s nursery rhyme. Wow, Black Bolt. Pretty harsh, don’t you think?
But this isn’t the last we hear of the Unspoken. In the years afterward, the Unspoken plots a conquest of the entire planet Earth, wanting to transform all regular humans into his Alpha Primitive slaves.
In Attilan, exposure to the Terrigen Mists is a major rite of passage that all Inhuman youth choose to go through, much like getting your driver’s license or voting for the first time, though neither of our Earthly rites will give you prehensile hair. But there are other Inhuman cities, and the traditions within these cities are tremendously different.
The lost city of Orollan, in Greenland, has only the smallest piece of a Terrigen crystal, and so, the decision about who to expose to the mists is far more selective. To Orollanians, this is a religious ritual, offered to only a select few. Among those chosen is Lash of the Lor Tribe, who then gains the ability to absorb any form of energy, and rechannel it for his own purposes.
Lash first comes into the picture when the explosion of a Terrigen Bomb above New York spreads Terrigen Mist across the world, causing powers to appear within all of the unknowing Inhuman descendants amidst normal humanity. Taking the situation into his own hands, Lash goes out in search of the newly-Inhuman individuals to decide their worthiness, taking it upon himself to be judge, jury, and — if he finds them unworthy — executioner.
So, as far as that whole Terrigen Bomb thing…
One of the Inhuman descendants who gets impacted by this event is an Illinois-based young man named Dante Pertuz, who works as a drummer in a wedding band. Then the Terrigen Mists draw out his inner Inhuman, and Dante discovers that he has the ability to generate flaming plasma from his fingertips. He can also set his whole body alight, like the Human Torch, but doing this will cause him severe burns.
Until the Terrigen Bomb dropped, Dante had no idea he had Inhuman descent, so the world that he navigates now is totally different from the one he knew for most of his life. But soon, he and his family are attacked by Lash, who has deemed them not worthy of existence. At this point, Dante is spurred into action, and must fight back.
Dante and his human sister eventually move to Attilan. Of note, Dante is actually the first “NuHuman” — a person whose background is both human and Inhuman — to move away from his old life and become a part of Attilan.
As we’ve seen, exposure to the Terrigen Mists — though an important ritual in Attilan society — can be an unpredictable thing. A lucky young Inhuman may end up being able to control the four elements, while another poor soul gets stuck being some giant stationary doorway for the rest of of their life.
Triton Mander-Azur, brother to Karnak, and the oldest son of a priest and an ocean biologist, ends up having a rather… bizarre mutation. He grows gills, his skin turns into green scales, and he becomes an aquatic humanoid. In a rather unfortunate turn of events, these changes mean that he can no longer survive outside of water without the use of a special artificial life support system. As one can imagine, this changes the nature of all social encounters with him.
So basically, Triton’s parents are so aghast at the condition of their first son, who can no longer survive outside of an aquatic environment, that they desperately do not want to expose their second son Karnak to the mists. Instead, Karnak is enrolled in the seminary in the Tower of Wisdom, where he spends his youth studying a variety of mental and physical disciplines, including meditation and martial arts.
Karnak, now a trained philosopher and master fighter with the practiced skill of finding any flaw, fault, or fallacy in any person, technique, or idea, becomes a force to be reckoned with. Though Karnak does not possess any powers, since he never underwent Terrigenesis, his mental and physical skills more than make up for it. He has complete control over all of his autonomic bodily functions, and can pinpoint his attacks to achieve optimal results with every blow, rendering him capable of fighting — and beating — superpowered opponents that he shouldn’t stand a chance against.
In recent years, Karnak has become a fan-favorite character, even featuring in his own solo title. He is described by writer Warren Ellis as “a dementedly intense philosopher who can see the flaw in anything — objects, systems, ideas, people — and strike that flaw in order to destroy it.” Let’s hope he makes it into the series.
Gorgon is the tough guy of the Inhumans. He’s Black Bolt’s personal bodyguard, transformed by the Terrigen Mists into a super-strong, super-massive Hagrid-like figure… but with hooves, instead of feet. These hooves do more than just look cool, however. Gorgon can climb up buildings, and can stomp the ground extra-hard to create seismic ripples. Doing this, Gorgon can cause shock waves up to 7.5 on the Richter scale.
In addition to keeping Black Bolt protected — not that the guy necessarily needs protection, with that booming voice of his — Gorgon also spends his time training the youth who have recently undergone Terrigenesis, helping these kids come to a better understanding of their new powers. This is a perfect job for him, since Gorgon is defined by his moral integrity, even willing to stand up to orders from his superiors if he feels that they are wrong. One of his more notable students is Inferno, the fiery guy we mentioned earlier.
1. Ms. Marvel
You’ve probably heard about Kamala Kahn, the new Ms. Marvel. These days, she’s kind of a big deal. Kamala, a teenage Pakistani American from New Jersey, is Marvel’s first Muslim superhero to headline her own comic. Her stories have gotten rave reviews, made it to the New York Times Best Seller list, and her creator Sana Amanat has even presented the comic, in person, to President Barack Obama. While Ms. Marvel’s not yet a household name, she’s quickly becoming a favorite character of many comic fans.
What many people may not know, however, is that Ms. Marvel is also an Inhuman. Kamala is another character who, like Inferno, discovers that she has Inhuman genes after her new shapeshifting powers manifest in the wake of the Terrigen Bomb. Though Kamala has interacted with such classic Inhumans characters as Lockjaw and Medusa, she’s so far stood more on her own, rather than joining up with the other Inhumans in their mysterious city. Because of this, we wouldn’t necessarily predict that Kamala will appear in Marvel’s The Inhumans — but she’s becoming an increasingly major character, so we’ll bet it’s not too long before she finds her way into either a movie or a TV series. Based on Joe Quesada’s comments on the subject, it’ll probably be sooner rather than later.
That’s a wrap! Did we miss your favorite Inhuman? Are there other ones you want to see in the series? Sound off in the comments!