Writer: Al Ewing
Penciller: Kevin Libranda and Javier Rodriguez
Colorist: Kevin Libranda and Álvaro López
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 9/20/17
Royals is one of Marvel’s newer series focused on the Inhuman Royal Family after Black Bolt is imprisoned by Medusa. Set in a dystopian future, the series focuses on the Inhumans’ plight to save their species by traveling across the stars in search of knowledge. In search of primagen, a terrigen-like substance that could restore their race, they must find the Progenitors by tracking Skyspears. These are obelisks that fell from the sky near Inhuman populations, they possess the power to kill and have already done so.
Writer Al Ewing has created a fascinating tale of survival with Royals. It provides the classic Inhumans feel with a new twist and new dangers. Ewing blends two different stories; one set 5,000 years in the future with the Last Inhuman, and a modern day tale filled with all the adventures one would expect from a title with the Royal Family. Royals is a hit and has the potential to stick as long as the writing continues to deliver. Ewing has the makings of a classic, but they need to hit #20 first.
Plot: The book opens in the dystopian future, where Maximus and Marvel Boy are taking Manhattan. After the two eliminate all their enemies, they head toward the Skyspear. Back in the present, Marvel Boy is downloading all the information from the Skyspear after Maximus threw him into the Skyspear as a way to prove Kree and Inhumans are related, which it was when Noh-Varr contacted the Skyspear and began to receive a download from what turned out to be a quantum computer.
As Marvel Boy explains the purpose and origin of the Skyspear, the Royals are attacked by Prince Hyinar of the Snark World. The Snark royalty have transferred the powers of the Royals to their bodies leaving them without powers, but Gorgon breaks out of his prison using Inhuman strength and frees everyone else, as well. While both sides suffer losses, the Royals and their allies are just about pinned down when Flint remembers the Skyspear can restore and enhance Inhuman powers. He touches the Skyspear, and uses his newfound powers to end the fight by dropping a huge stone with spikes on the Snark royalty. As they are about to leave, Medusa forces Gorgon to reveal his feelings for her and they kiss to the surprise of everyone.
Story: Royals moved along at a solid pace. Even though the overall story is rather complex, Ewing does a great job of dumbing down for the readers and tying it all back together with flashbacks and memory recalls. The invasion of the Snark was anti-climactic to a degree, but it was also very entertaining and helped to further the larger narrative. The larger narrative is equally intriguing, bringing the reader back for more. Maximus is a central figure in every story, especially the Last Inhuman arc set in the dystopian future. He’s on a mission to save Inhumanity, but there’s a distinct feel that he’s up to something else as well.
How Royals moves forward will determine the series’ fate, but Ewing has created something that I find very enjoyable. The Skyspears deepen the intrigue, as they provide large amounts of information and power. The Medusa and Gorgon angle doesn’t move the needle for me, but that’s just an initial impression and a well-written arc involving the two could easily change my mind. The writers have built up enough goodwill and knee-jerk reactions seldom work out in a writer’s favor.
Art: Kevin Libranda, Javier Rodriguez and Álvaro López team together to create magnificent artwork spanning several different eras and requiring multiple looks of the same character. Each setting is distinct and has a unique personality. Royals is drawn with a similar look to the other Inhuman books, but it stands on its own. Every character is drawn with detail and the coloring adds to the overall experience and emotional conveyance. There have been several instances where I found myself as sad as the character speaking; Swain and Gorgon come to mind.
The trio have mastered facial expressions and emotional responses. The artwork in Royals blends with the writing to deliver an experience that you can. Gorgon’s depression Isn’t just felt through the way he was drawn, the reader is almost compelled to sympathy as he feels his injuries will see him cast aside. But before the reader can sympathize with Gorgon, they’re treated to Karnak’s usual dose of frankness mixed with pessimism, which makes Gorgon’s sadness stand out even more if we are being honest. This book is well done on all fronts.
Verdict: Royals is an emotional journey as well as a visual treat. The Inhuman race seems doomed and this is how they prevail. The book bounces back and forth between multiple stories, each one an enjoyable ride. If Once and Future Kings is the untold past of the Inhumans, Royals is the unwritten future mixed with some fillers along the way. This series is worth your time if you’re not already reading it.. — JW
Rating: 5/5 Stars