INHUMANS: JUDGMENT DAY #1 by Al Ewing, Kevin Libranda, Mike del Mundo, and Jose Villarrubia
INHUMANS: JUDGMENT DAY #1 takes Medusa on a climatic journey to the astral plane where she saves humanity and regains her own inhumanity.
95 %
A Needed Conclusion
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It’s the end of an Inhuman era and the beginning of a new one! Writer Al Ewing and artists Kevin Libranda and Mike del Mundo present INHUMANS: JUDGMENT DAY #1, a one-shot that wraps up the past couple years of Inhumans comics and pushes the terrigen-gifted royals into a new direction. In this climatic issue, the Progenitors invade and Medusa is sent to the only place she’s vulnerable: the astral plane.

INHUMANS: JUDGMENT DAY #1 picks up where the series ROYALS left off. The unlikely team of new and old Inhumans are trying to stop the god-like Progenitors from destroying Earth. Maximus declares that the only way they’ll be able to defeat the Progenitors is to fight them with telepathy. Using Reader’s gift, Maximus sends the dying Medusa into the astral plane to fight the gods. Seconds after she arrives, a strange creature attacks her.

Courtesy of Marvel Comics.

Luckily, Medusa isn’t alone for long. Black Bolt, somehow sensing Medusa’s distress, comes to the rescue. After defeating the creature, Black Bolt and Medusa walk for miles through the desert-like astral plane. Black Bolt realizes he can speak there and the two talk about their time away from one another. Medusa admits that she misses her friendship with Black Bolt. Before they can say anything else, a Progenitor grabs Medusa and Black Bolt disappears.

Medusa is distraught after Black Bolt is taken by a mysterious figure. It is this emotion that causes her Inhuman gifts to magically reappear. Her mane of red hair returns and the Progenitor is easily defeated. She returns to the physical realm and finds her gift has been restored there too. A short epilogue reveals that the Progenitors did some cost-benefit analysis and decided to leave Earth alone. Probably a good idea since they have the believed-to-be-dead Gorgon to handle.

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A Quick Trip to the Astral Plane

In recent times, a lot of the Inhumans comics have been lacking. The storylines and characterizations are confusing and disjointed but INHUMANS: JUDGMENT DAY #1 makes up for them.

The plot is not simple, but it makes sense and it works as a conclusion to recent Inhuman history. Everything that needed to happen in the Inhuman world happens in this issue. The Progenitor storyline needed to end after twelve issues of buildup in ROYALS. More than that, Medusa needed to become an Inhuman again. On top of that, the royal couple needed to get back together. Okay, so they didn’t need to get back together, but they at least needed to see each other. All of these things happen and they happen in a really emotional and climactic way. Not only is it the actual end of a series, it feels like a conclusion.

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Ewing does a great job at both tying up loose ends and giving readers something new to look forward to. Medusa and Black Bolt’s relationship is still rocky, even after their emotional reunion, but Medusa’s vow at the end of the issue to bring Black Bolt home is an important step. Future issues of BLACK BOLT will determine if Medusa succeeds.

The only part of the plot that doesn’t make a lot of sense is the appearance of Gorgon at the end. His reappearance would have been more powerful if it had happened many issues after his supposed death. Also, since he reappears on the Progenitor universe of Farm World, the Inhumans will likely encounter the computer giants in the future. Since ROYALS covered the Progenitors so heavily, I’d like to see a new and more dynamic villain appear in the Inhuman universe.

Courtesy of Marvel Comics.

Black Bolt Meets Medusa (Again)

The interactions between Black Bolt and Medusa are, partly, why this issue works so well. Ewing could have easily made their reunion overtly romantic but instead he made it very realistic. Medusa isn’t the kind of woman to immediately fall at the feet of her ex-husband after he saves her. Similarly, Black Bolt isn’t the kind of guy to demand that from Medusa. You can read their exchange as romantic if you’re willing to squint, but I think it’s more about just needing someone to rely on. After so many years together, they just miss being near their best friend. It’s an eerily relatable feeling.

Even with the emotional reunion, the climax of the issue is still Medusa getting her powers back. Being instantly rejuvenated after being so close to death is no small matter. Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot of characterization after Medusa returns from the astral plane since it’s near the end of the issue. As readers, we have no idea how Medusa feels after such a traumatic event. All we do know is that she was able to get her Inhuman gift back after breaking through a mental block while in the astral plane. More characterization after this breakthrough would have been nice, but I think Marvel wants to use a different series to show Medusa’s emotional change since it deserves more space than a single issue.

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Normally, switching between artists in a comic isn’t a good thing. Different styles can cause an issue to feel disjointed. However, some comics, like INHUMANS: JUDGMENT DAY #1, do it well. The two artists who worked on the issue, Kevin Libranda and Mike del Mundo, have very different styles but their differences mimic the plot perfectly.

Mundo’s stylized art and pastel-like palette capture the otherworldliness of the astral plane flawlessly. Libranda, who illustrated the scenes in the physical realm, uses a more realistic style. This change helps remind readers of the differences between the two settings. When coloring Libranda’s art, Jose Villarrubia sticks to this same idea, using a restricted palette that’s very different from the rich colors seen in Mundo’s panels. While the change between artists is jarring, it’s intentional. A change between two realms of existence definitely warrants a different artistic style.

Courtesy of Marvel Comics.

Final Thoughts

For Inhumans fans, this issue is a must-read. It pulls together different characters and plot lines in an effort to start the Inhumans on a new chapter. While parts of the plot feel a little rushed, INHUMANS: JUDGMENT DAY #1 does an amazing job of reenergizing Medusa and giving readers who love the classic Inhumans cast something to look forward to in future series.

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