A wonderful and heartfelt goodbye letter to the Inhumans.
The Inhumans books that came out of “Resurrxion” were some of the best in years. Black Bolt, Royals, and Secret Warriors were all thoroughly enjoyable and did a good job of being accessible to new readers without sacrificing continuity. Every book I just listed is now cancelled, but that’s a gripe for another time. On to the review!
Inhumans: Judgment Day is mostly a wrap-up to Al Ewing’s Royals saga, which saw the Inhuman royal family take to the stars to find a new source of their power-granting substance, Terrigen, after the last of it was destroyed in Inhumans vs. X-Men. There were a lot of interesting developments for these characters in Royals: Medusa being stripped of her hair and on her deathbed; the introduction of a new godlike foe called The Progenitors; Gorgon and Medusa admitting their love for each other and Gorgon giving his life to the Progenitors; Maximus becoming somewhat less of a crazy a-----e and meeting an alternate future version of himself; and Nuhuman, Flint, unlocking a new power set and becoming a sorta Inhuman god now. It was continually one of my favorite series that Marvel put out, and I can thankfully say Judgment Day is the best ending anyone could have hoped for.
The best thing about Judgment Day is the love and thought put into it by the creative team. Kevin Libranda does the art for the parts that take place in the earthly realm, and Mike Del Mundo does the art for the parts that take place in the astral realm. The transition between Libranda and Del Mundo’s parts is seamless, and both evoke the setting they are in. Royals was originally solicited with Jon Boy Meyers on art, but after the first few issues Libranda did most of the heavy lifting until Legacy began. His style in this issue is not as visually striking as Del Mundo’s, but it’s not supposed to be. That being said, I would have liked for Javier Rodriguez (who did the art on the last arc of Royals) to have been included somewhere in this issue, but I can also see how his stark style might have clashed too heavily with Del Mundo’s trippy visuals.
Al Ewing’s work is wonderful. This issue is supposed to wrap up his story, but it’s also supposed to set a new status quo going forward. I was originally worried that the Progenitors’ threat was too great to be satisfyingly finished in a single issue. In the end, it was fitting for a story humanizing the Inhuman royal family that the unbeatable big bads were taken down by empathy. I know it sounds sappy, but the way it’s done on the page… might have brought tears to my eyes. Medusa and Black Bolt’s reunion was beautiful. To see these two characters, who for so long have been defined by each other, have a real honest conversation that made them seem like people with faults and hang ups of their own was so refreshing. I’ve read almost every Inhumans comic since their introduction in Fantastic Four #45, and never have these two been so real and honest with each other. Gone is the regalness and formality of things, and what’s left is beautiful.
The other pieces at work here were handled well, albeit a little glossed over. It’s a hard line to walk between stripping Maximus of his ‘insanity’ label and keeping his personality intact, but Ewing has done a wonderful job. Crystal, Noh-varr, and the others didn’t do much of anything, but it didn’t especially bother me as I was too absorbed in the rest of the issue to notice. Reader makes an appearance and his exchange with Maximus about the ‘Floob’ made me laugh out loud. There’s a reference to Secret Warriors events too, which was a nice touch as it could have easily been ignored.
Despite how you feel about the ‘Inhumans Push’ of the early 2010s and all the grudges, hurt feelings, and arguments that come with it, Judgment Day is a wonderful end to an era. With something that could have so easily been a throw-away ending to something that Marvel might rather bury, it’s actually one of my favorite Inhumans stories in years. Judgement Day is filled with lines that repeated in my mind, art that I will remember far into the future, and most importantly: heart. For an era in the franchise that was so lacking in that department, Judgment Day shows us that the only thing we can really rely on in this world is each other.