Review: Inhibit Book One

Inhibit is a new webcomic riff on the superhero genre by Scottish cartoonist, Eve Greenwood. It tells the story of Vic, a young man with the superpower, or variant as it’s called in-universe, of controlling electricity. He was meant to train at the prestigious Urquhart institution, but ended up having issues controlling his powers and ended up at Earl Estate, a kind of alternative school for youngsters, who have issues controlling their abilities. Along the way, he struggles with authority, malfunctioning power inhibitors, a mission gone wrong, and a mysterious woman with abilities that are far beyond this universe’s norm.

This plot description might make Inhibit like a thrilling comic in the vein of X-Men, Umbrella Academy, or My Hero Academia, but British. However, in reality, Inhibit is an inconsistent read. There are definite highlights like Vic going on a ride-along with old mentor Nate to see what life with a “license” to be a hero is like that basically makes them come across as tools of the establishment with the matching uniforms giving off an eerie, militaristic quality compared the varies shapes, sizes, and looks of Vic and his buddies at Earl. But Inhibit has some macro-structure issues that are hopefully improved upon in future books.

For example, Greenwood turns a quirky/slice of life party story in Chapter Four into a harboring a fugitive plot that would have made a great cliffhanger ending to get readers excited for Book Two. However, they undercut that by immediately doing an extended flashback to Vic’s days training at Urquhart with familiar faces like Nate and a supporting character named Masha. This chapter does serve some good world-building purposes by establishing what variants are and what Urquhart is like, but it would have fit better earlier in the book, especially as I was trying to parse out Vic’s motivation as a character other than brooding and killing time. For example, Chapter One ends on a fire/graffiti-filled cliffhanger where another school for superpowered young people is targeted, but I didn’t have the context until later to understand that it’s a big deal. All in all, I might say I like this comic on a scene/panel level, but not in the big picture.

Greenwood’s art style, which is playful and emotive, is much more enjoyable and memorable than their plotting and even the dialogue, which sometimes gets weighed down by “variant” shop talk instead of revealing the character’s personalities. (They are exceptions like Vic’s buddy David hyping himself up to play a song and then ask out his crush from another unit.) The way they use exaggerated facial expressions, vibrant colors, and diverse body shapes reminds me a lot of 2010s animation like Steven Universe or Thundercats Roar. Greenwood also excels at building tension during chase or fight scenes like when Vic has to fend for himself against a (then) unknown superhuman. In this sequence, they cut up the panels, draws facial expressions of discomfort and fear, and then makes Vic’s assailant exhibit abilities that are hard to clock compared to the usual fire, ice, electricity, and invisibility. It adds an air of mystery to the story and a sense of purpose to the overall plot while also showing that the superhumans of Inhibit can’t always be classified into neat little boxes. Greenwood’s colors add a little extra power to these pages with a curtain of flame ripping through between the panel gutters.

When the text drops out, and Eve Greenwood goes all-out in a superpowered sequences and shows the struggle Vic has to control his abilities, Inhibit shows signs of being a compelling take on a well-worn genre. However, it is hamstrung by the overall structure and “editing” of the story with information about characters and the world being parceled out in ways that undercut the flow and dramatic tension of the story. I would hazard a guess, and say that this unevenness comes from the book’s origin as a serialized web comic with Greenwood feeling out their characters, narrative arc, and the elements of this bureaucratic, superpowers with an expiration date world at the beginning and finding momentum as the story progresses. Inhibit has some fun character designs and epic moments, but has yet to reach its potential as a comic.

Story/Art: Eve Greenwood
Story: 6.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Pass

Eve Greenwood provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review