Black Bolt Vol. 1: Hard Time – The king of the Inhumans makes his solo debut…


With the Inhumans in the process of introducing themselves to the masses in their TV series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, now is the perfect time to take a look at their enigmatic king – Black Bolt. Making his solo series debut, Black Bolt has found himself jailed for unknown reasons in an unknown location. To make matters worse, he is soon forced to fight to the death with his fellow inmate – The Absorbing Man – who is just as much in the dark as Black Bolt is.

Black Bolt has always been one of the most intriguing aspects of the Inhuman world. It presents a unique challenge to writers when one of your main characters never speaks. Saladin Ahmed has an even bigger challenge ahead of him as Black Bolt largely has to carry the series himself with the other Inhuman characters largely absent. Luckily, this gives Ahmed carte blanche to present one of the best character studies in recent memory which in turn results in one of the best superhero comics currently being published.

It is always interesting to see how a writer approaches handling Black Bolt, and here we get to see him in two very different ways. When we are introduced to him, he is his usual stoic self with the reader relying on some old-school epic style narration along with Black Bolt’s subtle body language. But an incident in the prison leaves him without his powers and results in one of the rare occasions where Black Bolt is able to talk. This leads to one of the best single issues Marvel has put where after they fail to lead an uprising against their jailer, Black Bolt and Crusher Creel (The Absorbing Man) find themselves shackled alone in a room with their oxygen rapidly depleting. What follows is a surprisingly touching chapter as Creel lays bare his soul – speaking on how he ended up as a super-criminal, his regrets and the small amounts of happiness he managed to find. We see a very different side of Black Bolt in this chapter as he shares a laugh with Creel and drops his stoic exterior as he finds himself questioning if his own misdeeds outweigh those committed by Creel. Beyond this chapter, there’s plenty else to enjoy with some superb prison escape action along with the return of cult favourite cyborg bounty hunter Death’s Head.

Christian Ward is on art duties and having followed his work pretty devoutly since The Infinite Vacation, I can safely say this amongst some of his best work. He often excels at depicting cosmic characters and slightly out-there material (and there’s plenty of that in here – Death’s Head and Lockjaw for example), but his best work in the series was surprisingly the more introspective moments with the aforementioned Black Bolt and Creel chapter greatly enhanced by the more subtle approach Ward takes. His style is one of the most unique you’ll see in today’s comics and is well worth checking out.

Inhuman fans should definitely pick this up but there’s also a lot to enjoy for most comic fans in general as it is one of the most thought provoking superhero comics in recent memory which still has some great sci-fi action and drama packed in. One of the top Marvel comics published this year for sure!

Black Bolt Vol. 1: Hard Time is out 19 December 2017 from Marvel

9781302907327 – P/B £14.99

Post by Leo


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