Five issues in, and sadly, Inhumans Vs. X-Men is proving fairly predictable. The arc began with the X-Men striking a hammer-blow against the Inhumans, successfully imprisoning key members in Limbo. Unfortunately for the mutants, their plans were stalled by the NuHumans, the younger Inhumans including characters such as Kamala Khan’s Ms. Marvel and the new Mosaic. With Forge taken captive, and his Terrigen-destroying machine reduced to scrap metal, the X-Men are in a hopeless situation; the Earth will soon become uninhabitable to mutants.
But, even as the Inhuman Royal Family fight their way through Limbo, the NuHumans are becoming aware of the problems. The solution is obviously going to come from the new generation, who are unraveling the mysteries and lies behind the whole event, and who have gained allies in young Cyclops and Forge.
As before, Inhumans vs. X-Men #5 splits its attention between two arcs; the escape of the Inhumans, and the younger group who go head-to-head with the X-Men. Charles Soule and Jeff Lemire do seem to be getting more confident with the narrative, and the writers give each character a distinctive voice. At the same time, though, there are still a number of contrivances that undermine the book; most prominently, I fail to understand why the X-Men would be foolish enough to keep a drugged Lockjaw prisoner in the same place they’re struggling to hold Karnak.
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The event’s overall continuity is as awkward as ever, too. In this issue, Mosaic takes the young Cyclops aside and reveals the greatest secret in X-Men history – that his older self wasn’t responsible for the events of Death of X. Unfortunately, the tie-in issue All-New X-Men #18 showed Cyclops learning that for himself.
For all I’ve been critical of the event, I have to say that this outing contains the best moment so far; a confrontation between Medusa and Havok, with Havok threatening Black Bolt’s life. The scene is powerful and effective, showing – perhaps for the first time in this miniseries – that the writers understood the nature of the dilemma they’ve faced the two races with. Havok is backed into a corner by a dominant, confrontational Medusa, but he’s ultimately no murderer, as he lets her recover Black Bolt.
The dialogue between Medusa and Havok is a highlight of the issue, casting a fascinating light on the last year’s worth of X-Men and Inhumans stories. Havok doesn’t just accuse Medusa of Cyclops’s murder, he also accuses her of a propaganda coup, in which she’s manipulated the world into believing Cyclops to be “basically Hitler,” The Hitler comparisons have been an overstated part of Dennis Hopeless’s All-New X-Men run, so it’s nice to see Lemire and Soule tackle those head-on.
In terms of the art, Inhumans vs. X-Men #5 was evidently a fun book to work on; Javier Garron opens with a fantastic glimpse of the World, in which Karnak is being held separate from the other Inhumans, and you can tell he’s enjoying those scenes. He swings between close, focused panels – with no trace of background – to vast, scene-setting panoramas; it’s an effective approach, although it’s not always consistent. Some of the art is excellent, though – there’s a scene where Medusa is cloaked in shadow, and I find that tremendously effective.
All in all, Inhumans vs. X-Men #5 doesn’t really have any surprises – at least until the last page, when we get a twist that will clearly set up a fun finale. It’s a serviceable issue, but it’s hard not to feel that Marvel is looking forward to this event being over.
Although Inhumans vs. X-Men #5 isn't exactly full of surprises, it's a serviceable issue that moves the narrative forward.