His voice can raze mountains, but what becomes of Black Bolt when he’s no longer King, and no longer trusted by his Queen and his people?  Your Major Spoilers review of Black Bolt #1 awaits!

BLACK BOLT #1

Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Artist: Christian Ward
Colorist: Christian Ward
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Editor: Wil Moss
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Black Bolt: “When the mad Titan Thanos raided the Inhuman city Attilan, Black bolt set off a bomb that destroyed the city and spread Terrigen across the planet, seemingly dying in the process.  The result was an explosion in the Inhuman population as Terrigen activated latent DNA in seemingly human individuals, but many died during their transformations, and Terrigen proved deadly to the planet’s mutants.  When Black Bolt returned, freed of the mind-control of his mad brother, Maximus, who had stolen him away after the battle with Thanos, his people no longer trusted him.  And neither did his Queen, Medusa.  The Silent King abdicated his throne and set out to redeem himself…”

WHAT IS A CRIMINAL?

We open with Black Bolt awakening in a strange prison cell, bound and unable to use his massive powers, slowly coming to grips with who he is.  Over the space of several pages, he awakens again and again, retaining slightly more information while giving the readers a clear back story on his life, The Inhumans and their place in the Marvel Universe.  By the time he breaks free of his bonds, it’s clear that something more than just imprisonment is going on.  Black Bolt is being toyed with, it seems, and he is forced to defend himself against Crusher Creel, The Absorbing Man, though thankfully without his matter-transfer abilities.  He beats Creel, though at no small cost, only to end up getting killed at the hands of his jailer, dying on the floor of the prison…

…and awakening back in his cell.  With his powers neutralized, we get a rare bit of dialogue from the King Of The Inhumans, as he finally remembers the truth of his situation: “I am called Black Bolt.  I put myself here…”

REALLY STRIKING VISUALS

I love an unusual comic book.  I love it even more when it takes place in one of the big, freaky shared universes, because it’s terribly difficult to pull off something unique and different when you’ve got to keep 70 years of other people’s continuity straight, which makes this issue an even more impressive achievement.  Ahmed’s script is complex and carries literary weight, befitting a strange alien king with a tuning fork on his head.  The visuals are utterly stunning, conveying the strange antiseptic prison in which he finds himself, and the coloring effects help to make it even more alien.  The shackles and muzzle he is forced to wear have glowy red bits that indicate arcane power sources, which is really neat, and the sight of Black Bolt in combat is beautiful, conveying bits of ballet and strange martial arts all at once.  As the issue ends, I immediately have questions, and the letter column from the writer welcoming us to his vision of the Inhumans’ king makes me want issue #2 even more…  Like right now.

THE BOTTOM LINE: I WANT TO READ MORE OF THIS

There are a lot of jokey running gags pointed at The Inhumans since they’ve been thrust to the forefront of the Marvel Universe (“His full name is Blackagar Boltagon”) and many of them are justified, but this book does a service to Black Bolt by treating him as a distinct character and not a stand-in for the X-Men.  Black Bolt #1 hits a sweet spot for me, combining a strong, complex narrative with unique visuals and a main character who is more than the sum of his parts, making for an excellent read, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  The only real comparison for me is the current Silver Surfer book which (while entirely different in tone and content) takes a new, unconventional approach to its strange main character, and like that book, this one makes the main character fascinating to read about.

[taq_review]

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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