The Inhumans are currently a laughing stock after the Inhumans “IMAX movie event” totally bombed with critics and audiences, but the property is experiencing a major creative upswing in comics right now. Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward’s Black Bolt is an introspective character study of the Inhuman king with stunning psychedelic visuals. Christopher Priest and Phil Noto are updating the Inhumans origin story with sleek style and insightful plotting in their Inhumans: Once And Future Kings storyline. Matthew Rosenberg and Javier Garrón’s Secret Warriors is finally stepping out Secret Empire’s shadow and becoming an action thriller with stronger tonal ties to the original Jonathan Hickman series. And Al Ewing’s Royals had a rocky start as it yanked the Inhuman royal family away from Earth, but the book became increasingly compelling as it settled into its cosmic sci-fi setting.
Inconsistent artwork was a major issue with the first arc of Royals, but that’s been remedied with this current arc, featuring artwork by Kevin Libranda with colors by José Villarrubia. They’re filling in before the new ongoing art team of Javier Rodriguez, Álvaro López, and Jordie Bellaire takes over next month, but Libranda and Villarrubia function as an excellent bridge between the old and new art teams. Libranda’s characterizations are less exaggerated than what Jonboy Meyers and Thony Silas presented in the opening arc, and there’s a softness to his line work that is much closer to what Rodriguez and López do together. Villarrubia’s delicate rendering and expressive palettes are also far more similar to Bellaire than Jim Charalampidis’ work on the first arc, and the transition between art teams comes to an end with next week’s Royals #8.
This exclusive preview of Royals #8 features the debut of Rodriguez and López on the series with an explosive image of the Progenitors, the celestial beings responsible for creating both the Inhumans and their alien ancestors. This introduction of the Progenitors is adding a big Jack Kirby influence to Ewing’s story, and both art teams are responding by incorporating Kirby-style layouts and panel compositions. From the opening shot of Maximus and Noh-Varr the Accuser rafting through the flooded ruins of Manhattan, there’s a sense of grandiosity to this issue, and it only gets bigger when the story hops back to the present and reveals the hallucinatory revelation Marvel Boy experiences when pushed into the Progenitors’ Skyspear. That image is a taste of what’s to come when the new art team joins this series, and given how imaginative these creators are when working together, Royals is slated to become one of the best-looking titles in superhero comics.