Agents of SHIELD incorporated Inhumans into its small sector of the MCU, drawing from those in the comics and introducing new ones.
From WandaVision to The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, Phase Four of the MCU has had some highs and lows following Avengers: Endgame, as many fans and critics remain divided over Phase Four. While some fans believe it to be the weakest Phase yet, others lean favorably into it due to its new approaches to storytelling, new characters, and the examination of the world and the franchise as a whole. Overall, it’s pretty remarkable that over only two years, Marvel released eighteen projects in Phase Four, thanks in large part due to the implementation of Disney+.
However, long before She-Hulk: Attorney At Law or Werewolf by Night, there was Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. It launched shortly into Phase Two, and it had been interconnected and reactive to the new MCU films. However, over time, it lost its footing in the main MCU continuity (to the point that it is not taking place in the main canon now – although some fans have argued that it takes place in an alternate reality). A big reason for this was the inhumans. The show was going to prime the larger MCU for their large-scale incorporation with the film-turned-tv series, Inhumans, in lieu of mutants' absence. While that hadn’t played out as initially intended, Agents of SHIELD introduced several prominent inhumans from the comics along with some original creations that have since joined the comics' continuity.
Along with the discovery of her inhuman heritage, season 2 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. introduced both of Daisy’s parents. Unfortunately, both are not the heroic figures she had hoped for. Her mother, Jiaying, played by Dichen Lachman, turned out to be vindictive and sought war with humanity after years of torture at the hands of HYDRA scientists. Jiaying was quite remarkable, a living Fountain of Youth, as she could absorb the life energy to sustain her own – similar to the mutant Selene Gallio (a magical villain the MCU should look to add with the X-Men).
Jiaying has the least similarities between her comics version and that seen in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. In the comics, Jiaying doesn’t have any relation to Daisy Johnson besides having been saved by her once. She also doesn’t look anything like her comics counterpart and has different abilities. Comics Jiaying is shown to have gills, implying she can breathe both underwater and on land.
Season 4 continued with the incorporation of Inhumans worldwide after introducing the Watchdogs, a terrorist organization aimed at eradicating Inhumans. Among them was Tucker Shockley (John Pyper-Ferguson), who, surprisingly, turned out to be an Inhuman himself.
Although he never took up the moniker, Tucker Shockley is largely based on the Captain Marvel villain, Nitro, who isn’t an Inhuman. Both are walking and talking bombs who can regenerate their bodies following detonation.
Ruth Negga played Raina in the first two seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. She was initially introduced as the woman in the flower dress – an enigmatic, manipulative character who worked for the elusive clairvoyant in searching for enhanced and superpowered individuals (she was also eager to discover the truth of her mysterious heritage and full potential). Her grandmother had long told her grand tales about the origins of Inhumans, and once she had the chance to gain the power she sought, she didn’t hesitate, but she did come to regret it.
Along with Daisy Johnson, Raina underwent Terrigenesis in the season 2 mid-season finale, "What They Become," where she emerged with sharp claws and was covered in quills and spikes like a porcupine. Given that there is some resemblance to the Hauk'ka's Raina present, it's likely that the writers were trying to pay homage to the comic book character. However, it does appear that this version of Raina is meant to be the one found in Inhumans Annual Vol 1.
Season 3 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. saw an influx of Inhumans introduced after Daisy Johnson accidentally dropped hundreds of Terrigen crystals into the ocean (causing a widespread contamination in the water supplies, which led to the unlocking of latent inhuman genes). It also introduced Hive (aka Alveus) as the season’s main antagonist, defined as the very first Inhuman, who was a parasite that could reanimate dead bodies and possess the living. He is also the ancient being HYDRA was created to revere and return to Earth.
In the comics, HIVE is still importantly linked to HYDRA, but he is not even an inhuman. He is just a monster, consisting of an untold number of parasites, created by HYDRA as a weapon. Besides that disparity, these two versions are quite similar when accounting for their appearances and powers.
Serving as Jiaying’s right-hand man in Afterlife (the secret Inhuman civilization they managed) was Gordon, played by Jaime Harris. He was first shown in season 2's "Aftershocks," detailing his difficulties with his abilities. From Terrigenesis, Gordon gained the ability to teleport anywhere, but he lost his eyes. However, like Daredevil, his training enhanced his reflexes and other sights, so he was still a formidable fighter.
Like Jiaying and Raina, Gordon was eventually incorporated into the comics in a very minor role. He is shown to have the same exact powers as his version in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, but interestingly, he is defined as having been exiled to an alternate dimension thousands of years ago, and when presented with the opportunity to escape, he let it pass. As such, he’ll likely not feature again.
Intriguingly, while Afterlife existed as an Inhuman sanctuary, protecting them from humanity, not all the citizens undergo Terrigenesis. Although it's still a gift withheld, there were few Inhumans who needed to be monitored since their powers could be predicted extremely destructive (as is the case of J.T. James, who is played by Axle Whitehead). He can ignite various items, most significantly a chain, and uses the moniker, Hellfire. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. utilized him as a secondary antagonist, which fit with his reveal that he is a HYDRA double-agent in the comics.
Aptly, it took the other fire-chain-wielding character, Ghost Rider to take Hellfire down. That’s even more appropriate since in the comics, J.T. is the grandson of Carter Slade (aka the Phantom Rider), who originally went by Ghost Rider. There could be a place for both the supernatural hero and the Wild West character in the future.
Also among the new inhumans created in season 3 is Elena “Yo-Yo” Rodriguez, played by Natalia Cordova-Buckley. She initially appears as a thief using her superspeed to steal from the powerful, however, she quickly becomes a prominent member of the team and main character. She stands out from other speedsters as she will always return to the spot she started from, hence her moniker, Slingshot.
While, like Hive, Yo-Yo isn’t actually an Inhuman in the comics, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D was still quite loyal to her history in the comics. They even adapted the storyline in which she lost her hands and had to use cybernetics. Yo-Yo was also introduced as a member of the Secret Warriors (which is not to be confused with the Secret Avengers, a team that could be incorporated into the MCU soon).
Initially, Lash (Blair Underwood) is presented as the main antagonist in season 3 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but his role evolves slightly (and in the episode "Emancipation," he is killed by J.T. James after destroying the Hive parasites affecting Daisy).
In the show, Andrew Garner, Agent May’s ex-husband, unexpectedly goes under Terrigenesis and becomes Lash, a hulking and menacing monster with energy projection powers. Although their origins are different, both Lash’s take up a personal crusade to hunt down and eradicate Inhumans they deem unworthy of their noble lineage. However, in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Lash is shown to consider everyone unworthy, so he’ll attack most inhumans indiscriminately. Yet, overall, the show adhered quite well to the comics.
Upon their incorporation, Inhumans remained foundational to the overarching narrative in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, even when the team was transported far into the future in season 5. They introduce some new Inhumans, who were teens that were forced to undergo Terrigenesis by their Kree enslavers. One such character was Flint (Coy Stewart), a young man who with geokinetic abilities.
He hails from the comics, though Flint is just his codename rather than his birth name. Interestingly, Jaycen, as he is named in the comics, underwent Terrigenesis thanks to the Terrigen Bomb that Black Bolt used on Earth – the same catalyst for Kamala Khan (although she has since been reimagined as a mutant in the MCU). Flint was a fun and powerful character, loyal to his comics counterpart, and someone that could be cool to see return in the MCU like other Agents of SHIELD characters.
Chloe Bennet's Daisy Johnson (aka Quake), was the heart of Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. from start to finish (and is a character many fans would love to see). Fans are always on the lookout for hints at when she could return, with some hoping the next Disney+ series Secret Invasion will finally accomplish it. Whatever the case, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gave a stellar adaptation of Quake’s life in the comics.
While the contexts are naturally different, the show took a lot from various arcs Quake is involved in, including her father being Calvin Zabo (aka Mister Hyde), her rise as a prodigy in S.H.I.E.L.D., and the vast scope of her powers. Interestingly, she wasn’t actually defined as an inhuman initially in the comics, but that has since changed (which is what has helped made her story all the more accurate)
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Bradley Prom is a writer and a University of Minnesota alum living in Los Angeles with a deep love for the movies, television shows, games, books, and stories that have inspired and provoked him throughout his life. He grew up on Star Wars, Justice League, Jurassic Park, Pokémon, Spider-Man, Harry Potter, and Avatar the Last Airbender – to name a few or seven. In adulthood, his passions and tastes have evolved to include other fantastical tales, reality tv, and comedy. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Bradley has a great appreciation for queerness in all forms throughout all facets of entertainment and modern culture. He hopes in developing his own stories and shows, he will help see such representation grow and evolve.