Black Bolt has been one of this year’s best comics — the combination of Saladin Ahmed’s writing and Christian Ward’s surreal art makes it one of the most unique comic books out there and puts a human face on the Inhuman Black Bolt.
The main premise of the book is that Black Bolt is trapped in the prison he meant to send his brother Maximus and he is trying to escape with the help of his fellow prisoners. One of those fellow prisoners is Carl “Crusher” Creel, also known as the Absorbing Man, a long-time foe of Thor and the Avengers.
Last issue, Black Bolt and the rest finally initiated their escape plan. It failed. Now, in the fourth issue, in response to their attempt, the Jailer has put both Black Bolt and Crusher Creel in a room where the air is slowly being drained and they will soon die of asphyxiation.
Which prompts Crusher to start talking about his life.
Young Carl gets a reputation in the ring and the nickname of “Crusher,” but also gets drawn into a life of crime.
I love how Loki’s horns curve around the panels, showing just how big an influence he was on Crusher’s life.
And then Crusher starts talking about Mary, a.k.a. Titania, whom he met during the first Secret Wars and fell in love with.
This is the kind of story that I love, the ones that humanize villains while still objectively showing them as villains. The ones where they may regret their actions, but they can’t stop doing them.
Still trapped and dying, Crusher and Black Bolt share a moment of laughter...and then, in a moment of catharsis, Lockjaw shows up to rescue Black Bolt. And only Black Bolt.
I know Black Bolt was probably only designed to go on for six issues, but I wouldn’t mind it going on for longer, especially with the team of Ahmed and Ward. They are turning in a very unexpected, but amazing story.