Black Bolt #1 landed on May 3rd , a first issue you might have been anticipating if you’d seen previews of the new book by Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward. The letters by Clayton Cowles feel pitch-perfect, too. There was a particular freshness and intriguing quality to that released artwork, that paired with the concept of Black Bolt in prison as a perspective character who can’t really speak, made for a book with a lot of potential.
Reading the first issue didn’t disappoint. Even if you know very little about the Inhumans or their king Black Bolt, there’s a solid recap at the beginning of the issue to give you hints. And the first issue is so much about experience and direct observation that it simply takes you inside the mystery of and suffering of a being held in a space prison unaware of what his crimes have been and how he can alter his state.
The issue is not “silent” despite the fact that if Black Bolt speaks, his voice can shatter the world, but instead we get narrative captions that reflect his thoughts and feelings, and of course we see and hear what he sees and hears in the world around him, among other prisoners. There he finds jaded ruffians and innocents suffering, making the mystery a little more profound of how this prison operates and why. But in this first issue, at least, we do get some answers about why Black Bolt is there, only to encounter an even greater mystery about how it manages to keep him contained.
This is a beautifully illustrated and evocative first issue that brings us hauntingly towering dark landscapes and figures in a place far from the eyes of the rest of the galaxy. At times it’ll remind you of the Greek myth of the Labyrinth, maybe, where the Minotaur resides, and indeed there’s a key torturer in the prison who seems to fit this role.
You’ll naturally be on the side of the Black Bolt, facing these odds, and wrongly imprisoned, worrying about greater threats to his family back home, but you’ll realize that some things may be beyond even his grasp. The odds in this comic are dramatic–you’ll want to see how they play out.
Black Bolt #1 is currently in shops. Issue #2 arrives on June 7th.