– by Michael Tennant –
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Artist: Christian Ward
“He is a King, but he wakes in filth and darkness.”
Thus begins the new Black Bolt series from Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward. Bound and Muzzled. Lost in a prison he does not know.
In Medias Res – In the middle of things. As literary techniques go it may be my personal favorite. No setup is needed. Whatever the reader needs to know he will find out along with the protagonist. The mystery is the thing, you know?
Some friends of mine find it frustrating. They always need to know what is going on. Questioning where and when and why. But are not those very questions what make a story great?
Ahmed and Ward are on their way to a great story. By crafting a mysterious prison meant for Black Bolt’s brother Maximus the Mad, they thrust us into a world that is perhaps unsuited for the worst among us. The story asks the question: does anyone belong in a cage?
Ward’s art truly makes this world gloriously weird (which coming from me that is a grand compliment). The first pages made me feel claustrophobic and disorientated. The mood the art sets separates it from most of the books Marvel places on the shelves of your local comic shop. The otherworldly feel is ever present throughout the first three issues.
Truly, I come into this a stranger. I am not a huge Marvel zombie. I tend to stick to the fringes of their universe, Guardians of the Galaxy, Quasar (Wendall Vaughn), Nova (Richard Rider). Once upon a time my Marvel pile was filled with mutants, but even that has dwindled with time. My first exposure to Black Bolt was in Fantastic Four #150, nearly forty-three years ago. Among all the characters in that issue Black Bolt struck a chord with me. From the simple design of his costume to his thoughtful consideration in the face of the danger. It was some time before I realized that Black Bolt was virtually a mute.
This Black Bolt series is a truly interesting lead. With a voice that can destroy worlds he is used to being silent, but in this world his terrible powers do not work. Even with the ability to speak freely he chooses his words carefully. He is accompanied by an unusual (to say the least) supporting cast. Crusher Creel, also known as the Absorbing Man, who is surprisingly funny. Also along for the ride is Metal Master, an alien with control over metal, and finally there’s Raava, a Skrull with no love for the empire. In time it becomes a prison break. Each of them is in the prison for some reason even if those reasons are not just.
With death and rebirth common in this hole they have been sent to the mysteries abound.
That is just fine with me.
After discovering Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes #239 as a young man, Michael never looked back. Armed with a passion for journalism and a thirst for knowledge, he still talks to his imaginary friends.