Comic Book Review: Black Bolt by Saladin Ahmed & Christian Ward

The Comic Book

Black Bolt (Issues 1-12), collected in Vol. 1 and Vol. 2
Written by Saladin Ahmed (Twitter | Patreon)
Art by Christian Ward (Website |Twitter | Tumblr) & Frazer Irving (Tumblr |Instagram)
Goodreads (Vol. 1 & Vol. 2)
Marvel Unlimited
Published by Marvel, 2018

What It Is

Black Bolt is the King of the Inhumans. Well, actually, he was King, but he abdicated his throne and now finds himself in an ancient Inhuman prison out among the stars. He had meant to place his brother, Maximus the Mad, in the prison, but Maximus used his technology and wits to change places with Black Bolt.

The prison would be terrifying by anyone’s standards. Black Bolt’s powers are gone, and he has died many times at the hands of the mysterious Jailer, only to be brought back to life. He meets some of the other prisoners and befriends them, and they work together to escape. Their escape comes at a cost though.

This series explores Black Bolt’s history, his relationship with his son, Ahura, and who he is versus who he wants to be.

In case you’re not familiar with Black Bolt or the Inhumans, here’s a quick refresher:

My Thoughts

I loved everything about this series, from the writing to the art. Especially the art. I remember picking the first few issues of this series up in my local comic book shop months and months ago. I wasn’t a big Inhumans fan, but Black Bolt seemed like a pretty interesting character. After all, writing a character that cannot speak takes talent (Black Bolt’s power is the ability to topple enemies and even entire cities with just his voice). The reason I ended up buying all of these issues, however, was due to Christian Ward’s spectacular art. Every time I open up one of these issues, I’m blown away by the characters and the vibrant colors.

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Those are a few of my favorite examples, but it’s all good. Good art is vital for a comic book series; I can’t tell you how many issues I’ve picked up and abandoned because of how terrible the art was. After reading this Black Bolt series, however, I have found myself seeking out all of Christian Ward’s art.

I need to talk about Saladin Ahmed’s talent as a writer as well. As I mentioned before, a writer needs to get creative when telling the story of a character who cannot speak. Granted, there are parts of this series, such as in the prison, when Black Bolt loses his powers and is able to safely talk with his friends, but for the most part, he’s still the same Black Bolt we’ve come to know. With creative storytelling and the art to back it up, Black Bolt is an incredibly dynamic character who wants to save his friends and return to the world he knows.

I appreciated the character of Blinky a lot. She’s a child who was thrown into the prison after stealing at a bazaar and can use her Inner Eye to communicate with others and share memories. I love the childlike innocence her character brings to the story.

Blinky - Black Bolt, Marvel Comics

Another aspect of the story I enjoyed was the peek into Black Bolt’s past, where he was completely isolated and experimented on by his parents. His son, Ahura, gets to relive his father’s memories alongside Blinky, and the last couple of issues deals with Black Bolt’s fragile relationship with his son, and Ahura learning about some of the reasons his father acts the way he does.

The last thing I’ll say about this series has to do with a panel that made me laugh. For those of you who might not know, Black Bolt is short for the masterpiece that is his real name: Blackagar Boltagon. Seriously. His real name always makes me giggle, but I lost it when I came across this panel:

Blackagar Boltagon - Black Bolt - Marvel

Verdict (Buy/Borrow/Skip)

Buy. This is an amazing series, and a great introduction to Black Bolt if you’re new to comics.

Book Review: Flora and the Shooting Stars by Chantal Van den Heuvel

The Book

Flora and the Shooting Stars - Chantal Van den Heuvel

Flora and the Shooting Stars by Chantal Van den Heuvel, art by Daphne Collignon
Amazon | Goodreads
Graphic novel | Romance
Published by Europe Comics
Obtained through Netgalley

What It Is

Flora is a 40-something divorcee looking for romance after her marriage fails disastrously. She and her friends meet up frequently to talk about their latest bad dating experiences, and one of them recommends online dating to her. Unfortunately, it’s not a great experience. Sometimes, though, love can sneak up on you when you’re not expecting it. This graphic novel explores how devastating loneliness can feel, and how it can lead you to blame yourself when your love life isn’t working out.

What I Loved

I definitely enjoyed the art by Daphne Collignon, and it fits the story very well. In a lot of graphic novels I read, a character’s expression can be challenging, but Collignon does a fantastic job of giving each character a lot of personality.

What I Disliked

All of the characters fell flat for me in terms of the writing, and I had trouble getting past the shallowness of their personalities. Most of Flora’s friends seem like terrible people to be around, obsessed with their looks and finding the perfect man. Parts of the graphic novel are terribly corny as well, such as this quote from the niece of one of Flora’s friends: “Make him feel like he’s a valiant warrior. They love that.” Or this one from one of the men Flora meets up with through an online dating site: “I love real women, like you who’ve made it to their fabulous forties without forgetting how to be pretty and sensitive along the way.”

I wasn’t able to relate to a single character, and I didn’t gain any insight from reading this. While I enjoyed the art a great deal, I had trouble finding pleasure in the words.

Verdict (Buy/Borrow/Skip)