Today, we'll be covering The Inhumans & The Kree Empire, as well as the related events and characters associated with the current state of the Inhumans and how they came to be the new rulers of the battered Kree Empire.
However, please note that as so much has occurred in the cosmic universe at Marvel, we've tried our best to restrict the information contained here to basic summaries of events with a focus on those things most pertinent to War of Kings. Finally, be sure to check back on Monday for the final part of this primer where Matt and I will speculate and give predictions on what we think will happen in regards to this event.
Reading Order: Decimation: Son of M -> Silent War -> Secret Invasion: Inhumans -> Secret Invasion: War of Kings -> War of Kings
Decimation: Son of M
To understand the current state of the Inhumans, you'll have to go back to the post-House of M series, Decimation: Son of M, which dealt with Quicksilver stealing the Terrigen Mists from his former in-laws and friends. The Mists are a natural mutagen the Inhumans use to alter their biology to grant them their unique powers and abilities, the theft of which was a major turning point in the Inhumans' history and was picked up in the follow-up miniseries, Silent War.
In Silent War, the stolen Terrigen Mists were recovered by the US government and used in experiments on US marines to create temporary super soldiers. When the Inhumans politely requested their Mists back, the government refused, prompting an act of war by the Inhumans, who successfully attacked the US Pentagon and recovered their Mists. This battle saw the Iron Man led Mighty Avengers defeated by Black Bolt, leading to even more tension between the Inhumans and inhabitants of Earth. The US government retaliated by sending their Mist-modified marines on a suicide mission against the Inhumans home on the Moon. Amidst the confusion of this battle, Black Bolt's brother, Maximus, took the opportunity to seize control of the Inhumans, imprisoning Black Bolt and becoming the new king.
During the recent Skrull invasion, it was revealed that Black Bolt had been captured and replaced at some point going back as far as World War Hulk. The Inhumans discovered this fact and sought out their missing king. This led the rescue team into conflict with the Skrulls and caused them to seek out aid from the Kree. In the end, they recovered the missing Black Bolt, who then reclaimed the leadership of the Inhumans from Maximus and declared they would no longer sit idly by as their enemies push them to the brink of extinction.
War of Kings Prologue
With the conclusion of Secret Invasion: Inhumans, the Inhumans' story was picked up in Secret Invasion: War of Kings Prologue, where Black Bolt led his people away from their home on the Moon. Their first mission was to pursue and destroy the remaining Skrull armada for their kidnapping of Black Bolt and attack on Attila. This chase ended in Shi'ar space, where the Inhumans finished off the last of the Skrull fleet before being drawn into conflict with some Shi'ar patrol ships, who Black Bolt promptly destroyed.
After the successful destruction of the Skrulls, Black Bolt led his wayward people to the Kree homeworld of Hala where they proceeded to lay siege to and conquer the already weakened and broken Kree people (see the events of Annihilation: Conquest for more on this), forcing the steward of the Kree empire, Ronan, to bow down and acknowledge Black Bolt as the new soverign leader of the Imperial Kree Empire. This is where War of Kings picks up the story of the Inhumans.
Blackagar Boltagon, better known as Black Bolt, is the current ruler of the Inhuman people. As an Inhuman, Black Bolt is physically superior to regular humans due to years of eugenics. Furthermore, Inhumans are typically more intelligent, have faster reaction time, more stamina and, in general, are superior in just about every way.
Furthermore, all Inhumans undergo Terrigenesis when they come of age, a process which grants each Inhuman extraordinary powers beyond that of most mortals. However, unlike other Inhumans, Black Bolt underwent his Terrigenesis while still an embryo, a process which granted Black Bolt powers far beyond those of his kin and making him one of the most powerful beings in the universe. Simply put, Black Bolt is easily a match for the Sentry or the Hulk.
One common misconception about Black Bolt is the belief that his powers are sonic based. That is only partially true. Black Bolt's powers are actually based on electron manipulation. Through electron gathering and manipulation, Black Bolt can increase his strength, speed and stamina. It also allows him to fly, survive in space and, finally, project this power through controlled blasts of matter manipulation.
The reason most believe he's powers stem from his voice is because this electron manipulation power is tied to the speech center of his brain. This causes his power to flare out whenever he speaks, giving the impression that it is purely a sonic/vocal based power, which is not the case. This is why he never speaks. Further perpetuating the myth of his sonic powers is the tuning fork on his forehead, which is associated with sound. It is actually only used to help focus his powers in less destructive ways and has no connection to the origins of his power.
Over the past few years, Black Bolt and his people have suffered tragedy after tragedy, many of which were detailed in these summaries. The most personal for Black Bolt was his abduction and replacement by the Skrulls and the theft of his people's heritage - the Terrigen Mists. These hardships have led the typically pacifist Black Bolt into a more proactive state of mind and were the impetus behind his stewerding of his people to the Kree homeworld of Hala, where he then forcibly assumed leadership of the Kree people.
As Black Bolt cannot speak without activating his powers, his wife and queen, the Inhuman Medusa, acts as his speaker, perfectly relaying his commands through their unspoken, yet deeply intimate bond.
Black Bolt's wife and Queen of the Inhumans, Medusa has loved Black Bolt since they were teens and the two share a bond so deep that they can communicate with one another through their body language without the need for words. This allows Medusa to act as Black Bolt's voice and mediator.
Powers-wise, thanks to the Terrigen Mists, Medusa's hair stronger than steel wire and she has complete psionic control over it. This allows her to use it as a whip, to bind enemies and any other general purpose or combat related purposes. Furthermore, she has the Inhuman's advanced physiology and intellect due to their generations of eugenics.
Finally, Medusa has far more experience with the outside world and combat, in general, than most other Inhumans. She has been a member of both the Fantastic and Frightful Four teams at various times in the past.
Maximus is Black Bolt's insane brother who has typically been nicknamed, Maximus the Mad. Much like Black Bolt, he was subjected to Terrigenesis at an irregular age - in his case, as an infant. Maximus mysteriously showed no signs of actual powers from his Terrigen Mist exposure.
Eventually, his powers manifested themselves, psionic powers which allowed Maximus to control other people's minds. Combined with his geinus level intellect, Maximus routinely challenged his brother, Black Bolt, for leadership of the Inhumans and apparently succeeded in Silent War. It was later revealed the Black Bolt he defeated was a Skrull.
When the real Black Bolt returned, his new proactive outlook on life and the leadership of his people led to his forgiving of his brother. Maximus took accepted his brother's request for aid in the new direction of his people and Maximus now uses his intelligence to design weapons and technology for the betterment of his people. Whether he is actually happy with his new status and position has not been explored and, as with anyone nick named "the Mad", it is probably only a matter of time before Maximus returns to his previous ways.
Inhuman Royal Family
The Inhuman Royal Family is a typical monarchy based ruling body comprised of Black Bolt and Medusa as King and Queen, Gorgon, the minotaur-like super strong, psimic shockwave generating cousin to Black Bolt and Maximus, Karnak, one of the few Inhumans to have never undergone Terrigenesis, Triton, the amphibous looking brother of Karnak, Medusa's younger sister, Crystal, and Black Bolt's brother, Maximus.
The Inhuman people have absolute faith in the Royal Family and follow them unquestionably. Karnak typically serves as the spiritual and political advisor to Black Bolt and Medusa while Gorgon is their military advisor. Maximus was kept in isloation for years for his crimes against his people, but has recently been welcomed back into the fold and serves under his brother. Crystal was promised to Ronan in marriage prior to War of Kings - a move designed to bridge the gap between their two peoples.
Crystal has been romantically linked to several prominant Marvel super heroes, most notably, the Human Torch and Quicksilver, the latter of which she was married to at one point and had a child, Luna, with.
More recently, her hand in marriage was offered to Ronan the Accuser, of the Kree, in a move designed to bring their people together. While, at first, she was opposed to the marriage, after Black Bolt usurped the Kree throne, Crystal has seemingly warmed to the idea of the marriage. After the sneak attack by the Shi'ar in War of Kings #1, Crystal took on a very proactive role in aiding those injured during the attacks and has taken on a 'people's princess' / Queen Diana type of role to the Kree people.
Ronan the Accuser
After the events of Annihilation, Ronan assumed leadership of the Kree Empire. He did not wish to rule and was only acting as a stewerd until a true king could be found. He believes with all his heart that Black Bolt and the Inhumans can lead his people back to glory after their numerous hardships at the hands of the Annihilation Wave and subsequent Phalanx occupation.
However, Ronan is a Kree first and foremost and will punish any and all who do not live up to his ideals and beliefs for the Kree people - even if it is his new lord and ruler, Black Bolt.
Of note, in his role as Supreme Accuser of the Kree, Ronan wields the Universal Weapon. It is a powerful weapon of near limitless power that harnesses cosmic energy to be used in accordance to the users will. These feats include the disintegration, rearrangement, and transmutation of matter, the projection of concussive energy blasts, the absorption of energy, control over gravity, the creation of force fields and "time-motion displacement fields" and interstellar teleportation along hyperspatial passages. Ronan does not use the Universal Weapon for personal gain or combat, typically opting to use only on those he has accused and judged.