With the arrival of the Inhumanity event in Marvel comics I thought it best to clue people into just who the Inhumans themselves are. If you are looking for their society and such just check out my review of Inhumans or pick up the comic itself, it's a great tradeback. This article will be looking at the various members of Black Bolt and his royal court. Please note that this article contains no spoilers from the early Inhumanity issues. This is what the status quo was, not what it has become.
Unlike most of his subjects Black Bolt was exposed to the terrigen mists while still within the womb. As a result he was born with his full mutation, energy and electron manipulation. While he is best known for having to remain silent at all times his powers are far more complicated. Black Bolt can mentally control the electrons around him through a rather interesting process. The speech center of his brain grants him control of an unknown particle which reacts with matter and energy around him allowing him to control the electrons around him to some interesting effects. The most devastating of these is his voice.
Any vocal utterance of Black Bolt has horrific destructive power, the common description being his merest whisper could level mountains. The interesting thing is that while Black Bolt cannot negate the destructive power of his voice, he can mentally amplify it. Because the relationship of his powers works at the subatomic level his voice may not actually have any limitations in its destructive potential. So horrifying is this potential that Black Bolt meditates for an hour before sleeping in order to purge his mind of any unconscious thought, if he did not keep silent while asleep, he could destroy his kingdom with a mutter.
His other powers include the ability to influence electrons around him to create protective barriers, fire bolts of energy and augment his own physical prowess making him stronger, faster and more durable than a standard Inhuman. So powerful is Black Bolt that he has been shown to catch a shell fired from a tank and crush it with his bare hand. Additionally Black Bolt is a naturally developed flyer, a rarity in Attilan that further propels him above his subjects. Black Bolt isn't just their king, he is a living legend.
This brings me to a portion of Black Bolt's character that sometimes gets overlooked, his mental discipline and sense of duty. As stated above Black Bolt must maintain a strict discipline in order to not inadvertently kill everyone around him. This isn't just speech, but any verbal sound. A sigh or yawn could result in the deaths of hundreds. This is the strength of his force of will. More impressive is the fact that Black Bolt's willpower is not part of his terrigen unlocked potential but something he was forced to learn and make part of himself. Over time his willpower has steadily grown as he continues to exercise it to the point where he can hold back psychic intrusion in much the same way that we've seen Batman do in DC comics.
This ties in rather heavily with his sense of duty. In all things Black Bolt is a king to his people first and foremost. He has been shown on numerous occasions to not only put his people before his family, but a willingness to sacrifice those he loves for the sake of his kingdom. When it was ordered that his wife terminate her pregnancy by Attilan's genetic council he stood by their decision, he let his wife be taken by a madman and assaulted in order to protect his kingdom and its people. He separated his sister in law from her husband because the future of his people demanded it. Black Bolt stands as the pinnacle of a beneficent monarch, willing and able to sacrifice everything he holds dear on the altar of the duty to his people.
Wife to king Black Bolt Medusa has had the usual bit of tragedy in her run as a Marvel Character. She was often side lined or played as a damsel in distress or a preening love sick school girl for many of her early years. Since then she has become a very strong and inspirational female role model. Through a telepathic link with Black Bolt she often serves as his voice and regent to the throne in his absence. Her own mutation is the psychic manipulation of her mutated hair. While her hair length has been stated to be approximately 6 feet it is capable of growing far longer when willed to do so. While each individual hair is not capable of supporting much weight, with a thick bunch she has been shown to be able to lift cars and fight/entangle multiple hostiles at once.
As an Inhuman she naturally possesses a measure of superhuman strength, speed and durability thus allowing her to manipulate heavy objects with her hair without breaking her neck in the process. Like her husband, Medusa has a firm and unyielding sense of duty to both her family and her people. While she is often the more visibly torn in her role she nevertheless stands as a queen to her people.
Black Bolt's older brother, Maximus was the original heir to Attilan's throne. Called Maximus the Mad, he was driven insane when his brother destroyed a Kree ship using his voice. The reverberating energies of Black Bolt's cry warped his budding mental powers driving him to madness and turning Maximus into Black Bolt's greatest adversary. Maximus's own mutation is rather terrifying. While he isn't able to read minds he is capable of manipulating them. Additionally his mind is hyper evolved making him one of the most intelligent living beings in the Marvel Universe. Throughout his life he's tried to usurp his brother's throne on several occasions. Recently however he has been shown to accept his place at his brother's side and has ceased to be an adversary, through how long that will last, who can really say?
Second cousin to the King and acting as an advisor Karnak is unique among the royal family in that he actually does not possess a mutation. While his elongated skull would indicate otherwise, Karnak was never exposed to terrigen and so is one of the few adult Inhumans to not undergo mutation. His abilities instead function as a result of his own mental discipline and conditioning. Spending the first 18 years of his life learning to perfect his body's control and his mental state one can think of Karnak as a superhuman Kung Fu grand master. A master hand to hand combatant Karnak's contribution to the Inhuman society lies not with his strength of arms but with his incredible mind.
Through his mental conditioning Karnak is capable of seeing the cracks and faults in any structure. They appear as visible cracks leading to the weakest point of the object or person but the weak points may be physical, structural or even psychological. As an Inhuman his superhuman strength can make full use of this ability to shatter seemingly indestructible objects. As Black Bolt's advisor he looks into the people and things around him to find their flaws in order to either exploit situations or to shore up the defences as necessary.
His mental conditioning has left Karnak with a near eidetic memory giving him the greatest level of insight into any situation of all the various members of the royal court. Because of this, Karnak is one of the most interesting background characters in these comics. While others are viewing the world around them he can often be seen viewing the other members of his family, particularly Black Bolt as he looks for flaws in their decisions and actions.
The older brother of Karnak, Triton is the reason his younger sibling was not exposed to the terrigen mists. Being older he was exposed first and transformed into an aquatic life form. Unable to remain alive for more than five minutes away from water and no longer able to speak normally Triton is the closest thing to a royal outcast because of his mutation. If not for Attilan's original location in the Atlantic Ocean, Triton would have been utterly useless. Thankfully however, this was the case and Triton has been able to serve as an emissary to King Namor's empire for much of his past. Triton actually has made several inroads outside of Attilan, having saved the lives of numerous humans lost at sea he often visits these humans and maintains several long standing relationships.
While out of the water Triton is forced to wear a specialized harness in order to keep water all over his body. More agile than a standard Inhuman, Triton's primary contribution has always been through serving as a sort of humanist emissary to the world beyond Attilan's dome as he has had the most positive interactions with the common citizenry of our race when compared to the rest of his family.
Sister in law to Black Bolt, Cystal, like her sister Medusa, was exposed to the terrigen mists as an infant. Like her sister, her mutation is based on a sort of mental control. While Medusa can mentally control her own hair, Crystal is able to mentally control the four primary elements of nature around her. There's a joke about Korra in there somewhere, but let's move on. Being an elementalist, Crystal has a deep rooted connection to the planet and has at times 'sensed' what nature wants. Sadly she is a character that is often overlooked because she is in effect, the audience within the story. Crystal in her demeanour and appearance has always seemed the most human out of the Inhumans. She has had several romantic relationships and a daughter named Luna. More to the point, Crystal is one of the few members of the royal court who doesn't put duty before all else. On several occasions she has been the loudest voice against the harsh course of action for the sake of their people. She can be seen as the compassionate heart of the royal court and a powerful ally. Interestingly, her mutation mentally drains her at an astonishing rate. While she is incredibly powerful, she cannot maintain that level of power as mental fatigue sets in hampering her control over the elements around her in any protracted conflict.
Black Bolt's final cousin, Gorgon serves as both royal body guard, and general of all of Attilan's armed forces. While more akin to Asguardian's than Inhumans in his general demeanour, Gorgon has served his cousin faithfully over decades and while hot headed, is almost unquestionably loyal to the throne. Bearing a physical mutation, Gorgon is a tough as nails bruiser, capable of taking and dishing out incredible amounts of punishment. The most obvious of Gorgon's mutations are his legs. Most of Gorgon's muscle mass is in his lower torso, particularly his goat-like legs. Stomping on the ground, Gorgon is able to create seismic events in addition to having super strength and durability. Additionally, Gorgon is the only member of the royal court who has a healing factor. While not to the level of Wolverine's healing, Gorgon is able to heal at an accelerated rate, though he is still vulnerable to illness and pollutants like other Inhumans.
The loyal hound of Attilan there's been much debate over Lockjaw. While almost nothing of his history is known it is suspected that he was once a regular inhuman and his terrigenisis turned him into the teleporting canine. Taking the form of a massive dog, Lockjaw's level of intelligence has always been a matter of contention. Many comics (including the definitive work Inhumans) have him as an intelligent animal, no different from a well trained dog. On other occasions he has been shown to display a level of awareness on par with other members of the royal court and even speak with great difficulty. Along with his ability to teleport through our dimensional space he is also capable of teleporting into other dimensions and is even capable of tracking and seeing through dimensional barriers. The loyal hound can often be seen clamping his massive jaws onto adversaries or teleporting the Inhuman royal court to wherever they are needed.