June 30, 2012

Inhumanoids: The Comic Books


In January of 1987, one month after the final episode of Inhumanoids aired, Marvel's Star Comics imprint started to release - as they did for every other Hasbro property they licensed/co-created - a comic book series. I don't know if the show had officially been cancelled by this point, or if they were hoping to keep the property alive in print, but the book lasted for four bi-monthly issues, ending in July of that year.

There's isn't much to say about this series. I was only able to track down copies of the first three issues, and all they do is adapt the first three episodes of the show, with the fourth apparently continuing this plan. Unlike the Visionaries comic, there are no real departures at all. Jim Salicrup follows Dille's teleplays beat for beat, only changing a line of dialogue here or there, and renaming the Terra Scout the Interceptor, but nothing alters the story or personas at all. You still have D'Compose being found in Big Sur, Tendril attacking the city, Earth Corps suiting up to hunt them down, learning the backstory from Redlan, Sandra funding the team while her brother Blackthorne hatches his machinations, the expedition to see who will reach Metlar first... It's all exactly as it was on the show, with the three leads who aren't Auger still completely indistinguishable from one another and the Inhumanoids still surprisingly shrill even on the printed page.

I will say that these do make for a smoother read than those opening episodes did for a watch. Things are a little tidier and less chaotic and cluttered than in those shorts, while still preserving fun moments like Bright heading for the unemployment line after Senator Masterson cuts their funding. The art has issues I'll get to, but at least it's consistent and also making for a more pleasant experience than the ugly and sloppily constructed opening mini where nobody seemed to be following the same model sheets. In terms of problems, it's mostly just the awkward figures and staging of James W. Fry in the first two issues that don't always work that well. Jose Delbo takes over with issue three, and it's an instant improvement with cleaner characters and some striking creature work. And he does some refinements to the Earth Corps suits that I wish the show had access to, because Liquidator's helmet finally doesn't look like a box of Valentine's Day candy. The glimpses of Metlar we get here are also a vast improvement over the show, sucking in his gut and putting more bulk on his shoulders and arms, though looking at the cover of issue 4, where Carmine Infantino took over the penciling reins, that might not have continued.

The one glaring exception I have is Sandra's altered armor. I thought her suit was bland in the show, but the one here is just plan insulting, giving her gray armor a pair of bulbous tits and a red circle over the mouth of her helmet. She looks like a robot blowup doll. Seriously. I'm rather surprised her look made it past editorial.

That's all I have to say about these. The pilot miniseries was a shrill, garish mess, and these only slightly improved the experience of that still random and underdeveloped story. Dille's trademark style of humor that I've come to love didn't kick in until after the pilot was done and gone, and the comic simply never had a chance to get beyond that so as to try and put its own stamp on the material. As it stands, all we have is a so so adaptation of already weak material, so I can't really recommend it for anyone, Inhumanoids fan or no.

Tune in next Saturday when we share our final thoughts on Inhumanoids.

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