The ResurrXion event has begun, and stakes are high. Marvel has a lot of work to do if they want to make the Inhumans compelling and likable after their highly criticized choices leading up to and during Inhumans vs. X-Men. Does Royals #1 kick off this new era in a promising manner?
Royals #1 (Marvel Comics)
After brief exposition and roster pages, the issue proper begins with a stunning splash page set five thousand years in the future. We see caped men riding bright red-winged dinosaurs, flying above a cityscape that the captions dub “Arctilan.” Ryan Kinnaird’s colors on this page are light but vibrant, and Jonboy Meyers’ manga-esque line art is a fun deviation from current industry trends. This opening scene is a literal depiction of what the issue promises for this series’ Inhuman storytelling: a bright future that is not without its secrets.
Kinnaird’s colors throughout the issue shift from bright warm tones to cooler, more reflective shades. The coloration effectively changes to match different scenes’ shifting moods, and the varied palette is a refreshing contrast from many contemporary series that are more one-note in their color choices. Meyers’ highly stylized artwork is a lot of fun to look at, and meshes well with the narration’s focus on the Inhuman Royal Family moving forward in new and unusual ways. Meyers and Cowles’ renditions of smog, gas, and architecture are especially beautiful. Some of the characters’ facial expressions seem strangely distorted here and there, and there are definitely points where a decrease in fine detail lines would have helped to make the final effect more pleasing. With that said, the art is still highly engaging and an effective change of pace for the franchise.
Not only is this issue’s artwork great, but the writing is superb as well. Al Ewing takes a familiar concept—a squad of heroes venturing off into the unknown in search of hope and answers—and sells it with admirable commitment and pizzazz. Rather than feeling cliché, the issue reads as a fresh take on classic tropes. Ewing uses the word “odyssey” at one point, and if this series can live up to its debut issue, we are indeed looking at an adventure of epic proportions. I don’t want to give away too many of the plot’s details or the last page’s reveal. I’ll simply say that the Inhuman royal family is going on an expedition into space with Marvel Boy, who claims they’ll likely find out more about who they are if they visit the Kree homeworld, Hala. Of course, we get several declarations that this journey won’t be safe or easy—what comic book journey ever is?
Royals #1 is a strong start for a new period in Inhumans history. Ewing takes classic concepts and sells them in fresh, exciting ways, while Meyers and Cowles bring the strong writing to life with stunning visuals. We’re only one issue into the run and the royal family is already more endearing than they ever were in Inhumans vs. X-Men. If the Inhumans needed a facelift then they got one, and it definitely wasn’t botched.