Monday, November 26, 2012

The Royal Treatment


Like the Silver Surfer, full-page Jack Kirby portraits of the Inhumans were rare to come by, since they as yet had no series of their own and had to rely on guest appearances in Fantastic Four. And with Kirby exiting the title at just over one-hundred issues, that didn't give the royal family many opportunities to appear in full-page shots.

But in the few that were produced, we were able to see some striking examples of this race of beings which in a way seem the precursor of the Eternals. In The Mighty Thor, Kirby had ample opportunity to pencil the many humanoid offshoots that came to his imagination; but the Inhumans may have been Kirby's first real attempt at creating such characters which evolved on Earth:



Looking at these portraits, it's interesting to me how Kirby takes care to make the group's leader, Black Bolt, a part of the portrait rather than the striking figurehead that he could easily be--which is somewhat in keeping with how often writer Stan Lee has written the Inhumans in a way that has every member of the royal family constantly making Black Bolt's safety a priority. Indeed, their "body language" in Kirby's depictions shows a family dynamic in play. Even in captivity, they face their fate as a group (minus Medusa, in this case, who's being held captive elsewhere):



And speaking of family, even a royal family isn't necessarily immune from having its black sheep. In the Inhumans' case, that would be Maximus, Black Bolt's often-mad brother, who has proclaimed more than once that he was born to rule--not only the Inhumans, but also mankind. Fortunately, the schemes of Maximus either implode or fail to come to fruition--yet Kirby nevertheless pays Maximus due deference in these two striking portraits:



Which artist Herb Trimpe pays homage to in a later Incredible Hulk story:



It's too bad Maximus had to be so at odds with his cousins and brother, because he missed out on being included in some amazing group shots. My hands-down favorite being this one, which I'm going to have to get on my wall at some point:



Kirby also made some nice pin-ups of the Inhumans which were featured in a Fantastic Four annual, which we'll take a look at sometime so that each member of the royal family can have their own page to shine.


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