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In Space, Everyone Should Hear Saladin Ahmed & Christian Ward's Black Bolt Scream

Comics Reviews Saladin Ahmed & Christian Ward
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In Space, Everyone Should Hear Saladin Ahmed & Christian Ward's <i>Black Bolt</i> Scream

Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Artist: Christian Ward
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics 
Release Date: May 3, 2017

blackboltcover.jpeg Black Bolt—one of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s most unusual creations—has never before had his own series. There may be a reason for that: as the mute leader of the Inhumans, it’s tough to get inside Black Bolt’s head without oodles of narration, which can get old.

But Marvel has been all about the Inhumans for the past few years, and they’ve giving ol’ BB a shot—with the terrific creative team of Hugo Award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author Saladin Ahmed (Throne of the Crescent Moon) and visionary cosmic illustrator Christian Ward. Pairing a great writer from outside comics with one of the best talents inside comics is a great move. Based on a promising first issue, this could end up being one of Marvel’s stronger titles, alongside recent gems Moon Knight and The Mighty Thor.

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Black Bolt #1 Interior Art by Christian Ward

If you haven’t been paying close attention to Marvel’s Inhuman storylines—and who can blame you—all you need to know is that the king of the Inhumans has lost his throne and is imprisoned somewhere in space. The first issue shows Black Bolt struggling to understand his situation and escape. It’s a classic tale of a deposed, disgraced, defanged king. Kings aren’t always the most relatable characters, but Ahmed and Ward make you feel every bit of BB’s confusion and pain.

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Black Bolt #1 Interior Art by Christian Ward

To the credit of Ahmed, the narration mostly works. He shows a good sense of pacing and doesn’t overwrite. Ahmed also brings the funny via the surprising appearance of an old villain, and that humor is welcome with a lead character who doesn’t exude personality.

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Black Bolt #1 Interior Art by Christian Ward

Ahmed will bring fans from outside of comics, but Ward’s art that will keep them. Ward has been producing stunning work that’s Kirby-esque in its exuberance and energy, particularly in sci-fi epic ODY-C with writer Matt Fraction. Ward has played with Kirby characters before—notably in an issue of The Ultimates featuring the new yellow Galactus. The result was one of the best stories about the cosmic world muncher in years, with expansive, emotional artwork to match the former destroyer. Whoever thought to put Ward on another Kirby character deserves a raise.

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Black Bolt #1 Interior Art by Christian Ward

This is a promising start to a series that could go anywhere. Black Bolt has always been a tragic figure thanks to his preposterously destructive voice, but he’s never gotten a true spotlight. Ahmed and Ward have talent to spare and look like they’ve found a story worth telling.

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Black Bolt #1 Interior Art by Christian Ward

Mark Peters is the author of Bullshit: A Lexicon. Follow him on Twitter.

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