Written by Joel T. Lewis
Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward’s Black Bolt No. 3 has all the components of the perfect prison break story. A well-balanced and diverse crew whose personalities clash enough to create sparks but not fire, a plan with room for heroism and improv as opportunities to rescue fellow inmates arise and new obstacles appear, and finally it has to be visually interesting to watch unfold. As Crusher Creel, Black Bolt, and Raava face off against the grotesque guard Spyder in order to reclaim their unique abilities there is time for quips, camaraderie, and Ward’s spectacular use of color and character design. Dispatching the guard quickly, Black Bolt and company secure the device that will allow them to rescue Metal Master and the many-eyed child Blinky, and hunt down the cruel Jailer.
As the rag tag group reunites and their powers flood back into their bodies, Ward treats us to a two-page spread showcasing the renewed strength of each character. Black Bolt’s panel, which bleeds over and behind those around it, is particularly well executed as the Inhuman monarch swells with power. The would-be escapees then encounter a massive being in the next cell over whose initial strike of defense is mistaken for aggression. Blinky, using her telepathic ability, discovers that the massive being is only a child of his species and reacted out fear and not malice. Following this misunderstanding the group discussion over whether or not to enlist the monstrous child in the hunt for the jailer is quickly silenced by a particularly vocal and passionate Blinky, despite the insistence of Raava.
Moving on in pursuit of the Jailer the team discovers that at the center of the massive, bizarre prison is a massive combustion engine. An engine fueled by the suffering of the prison’s inmates. The Jailer appears and after a wild technicolor battle which concludes with the newly re-powered Black Bolt whispering the word ‘Die,’ it is revealed that the jailer is far more terrible than the apparition they were led to believe was the Jailer. The true being is massive and in segments, hooked into the infrastructure of the prison, and a terribly powerful telepath. As the issue ends, Black Bolt is ripped from the fabric of reality, head first, and his unspoken scream dies in a throat fading into white light.
This issue, apart from serving as a well-crafted prison-break storyline, intensifies the level of cruelty and injustice on which the space prison operates. The cruelty and misunderstanding that the colossal child’s incarceration represents makes us and Black Bolt question the fate he had decided his brother Maximus the Mad deserved. The child certainly did not deserve to be tortured and then fed off of in the way the Jailer sustained himself. Can Black Bolt believe that Maximus, villain though he is, had earned this level of cruelty?
We also get a passionate vocal development in Blink’s character as she steps in to stop Black Bolt from harming the colossal child. More than just a child figure herself, an object to be imperiled and rescued, with her powers reinstated, Blinky proves to be wise, compelling, and compassionate. Ironically enough, it is the power of Blinky’s voice, her shout of ‘Listen,’ which compels Black Bolt to stop his attack. It will be interesting to see if her character is lost to the winds after the Black Bolt series or brought into to some more cosmic storylines. I would love to see her interact with Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur perhaps, or some mini-series where she and the colossal child make their way home. It’s always exciting to see new and interesting female children characters have such a dramatic impact on more established heroes.
Ahmed and Ward are a powerhouse on this book. Some of the pages are mad spirals of technicolor mayhem and some are tight, intimate settings for serious discussion, and the visual and text components of the issues are extremely well married. I’m am very excited to review issue no. 4! Until next time, Geek On!