Medusa and the Inhumans
Review and Media by Jon T
Episode #4 - Medusa and the Inhumans
Original Airdate - October 7, 1978
Travelling over the Bavarian Alps in the Fantasticar to investigate reports of mysterious beings in the mountains, the Fantastic Four come under attack from Gorgon, an Inhuman. Their ship is forced down and they come into contact with the rest of the Inhumans, led by Medusa. She tells them that their hidden valley is known as the Great Refuge, and they have used their powers to keep it hidden from humanity for many years. She informs the Four that the Inhumans intend to reveal themselves to the human world and then rule it. The Four are imprisoned and Medusa uses a hypnotic ray on Ben, getting him to serve her. The rest of the team escape their cell, and Ben is ordered to capture Herbie. After Ben tracks Herbie down, the robot gets Ben to hit his head on the floor, restoring his memory. Reed and Sue retrieve the Fantasticar, and after avoiding attacks from a missile, Gorgon and Karnak, meet up with Herbie and Ben. However Crystal, another Inhuman, uses her power over the elements to ground the Fantasticar. Seemingly trapped by the Inhumans, the Fantastic Four have to find a way to stop the Inhumans' plans of conquest and free themselves.
Story by: Stan Lee
Teleplay by: Stan Lee
Notes: In the Fantastic Four comics, the leader of the Inhumans is the character of Black Bolt. In this episode he only makes a brief appearance as an unnamed Inhuman.
Review: Anybody looking for a sympathetic portrayal of the Inhumans isn't going to find it in this episode.
At least having the whole episode taking place in the Bavarian Alps is an interesting change of scenery, but the portrayal of the Inhumans is too one-dimensional to sustain interest. The only good thing about the main Inhumans as seen here, is that their powers are clearly defined and shown effectively. The rest of the Inhumans seen however, are simply akin to 'cannon fodder' as there's nothing particularly distinctive about them, apart from their outlandish costumes.
One thing that does stand out is Reed's detailed description to Medusa of the rest of the human world's problems such as pollution and overpopulation, which while clearly preachy, are a fascinating highlight of the problems mankind faces with increased development. Similar sentiments would be seen in other cartoons with a 'message' in the 70s and 80s, but which have noticeably decreased in number with time. This was a nice reminder that sometimes animated shows actually aspired to something more than just a conflict between good and evil, even if they were sometimes heavy-handed with their messages to viewers (which thankfully isn't the case here).