In Blackagar Boltagon’s first solo series, we go exploring in a prison among the cosmos. Black Bolt is imprisoned in a containment facility meant for his brother. This issue opens with Black Bolt chained up, as a nameless narrator eerily tells us about the mysteries of his current circumstance. Upon meeting others in the prison and fighting them, Black Bolt comes face to face with the being in charge. When he attempts to speak, nothing happens. Then he dies. But then he comes back to life. What the heck is going on?!
Newcomer Saladin Ahmed writes this issue in the most effective manner. He has written novels, short stories, and poetry—all those talents certainly show in this issue. The script is poetic. The story isn’t text-heavy, which is something I’m very thankful for. We don’t get tons and tons of exposition in this issue, and that’s actually a good thing. More than anything, Ahmed focuses on Black Bolt’s isolation as he wanders dark hallways of the prison he has no idea how he ended up in.
There is an overarching theme of mysticism in this issue, and Christian Ward does a fine job of portraying it as such. Because the story is so free-standing, Ward doesn’t have as much ability to illustrate like he did on Ultimates. Nonetheless, this is a beautiful issue. It feels atmospheric and ethereal, especially the last page.
There is some action in this issue, but more than anything, the tone relies on the creative team’s ability to convey emotion, whether it’s resentment, confusion, anger, or sadness. We see it all. Ward’s illustrations perfectly tell a story and include a lot of detail in simple panels, like Black Bolt’s eyes.
For a character whose life has essentially become about his voice, the creative team certainly uses the concept of silence to their advantage. The creative team has done an excellent job with this issue, and I couldn’t be happier upon turning the back cover. It’s moody, dark, intellectual, and ever so clever. Black Bolt fan or not, you’ll appreciate this issue, guaranteed.
Written by: Saladin Ahmed
Illustrated by: Christian Ward