Speak softly and carry a big stick is a phrase that has often been used to describe brusque, manly, silent individuals that are often portrayed as men of few words but of plenty action. No phrase could more accurately describe Blackagar Boltagon AKA Black Bolt. For while Black Bolt is a very powerful individual he unfortunately is the recipient of what we affectionately call an “ugly power”. An ugly power is one of those powers that people have that can make it evident they are “different” in some way. (Note “ugly powers” are not always related to appearance.) Certain people have “pretty powers” that are not always evident and allows them to blend in with regular society and/or usually live normal lives. For instance, Spider-Man, Jean Grey, Captain America... those are all pretty powers. Hulks, Scott Summers, even Wolverine all have ugly powers. So what is Black Bolt’s power? His voice is extremely powerful.
Correction, Black Bolt’s voice is extremely, uncontrollably powerful. So much so that whenever he speaks destruction occurs. And we’re not talking about maybe a wall being knocked down, or a car being crushed. No, we’re talking about complete and utter devastation and annihilation. Can you imagine how crippling that would be? He can’t afford himself the luxury of whispering an “I love you” to his family. But we’re not just talking about words. When Black Bolt is frustrated he can’t sigh. When he’s sad he doesn’t sob. WHEN HE HAS A COLD HE DOESN’T SNEEZE!! Any syllable produced from the lips of Black Bolt decimates anything around him. Being as such, Black Bolt consistently exercises extreme self-control and has to communicate with those around him through a modified sign language, occasional telepathy, and, usually, his wife’s near intuitive ability to understand what he feels. So keeping all this in mind when Black Bolt DOES decide to talk then it’s for good reason.
In the Silent War 6- issue mini-series (which was a spin-off from Civil War) Black Bolt and the Inhumans are put at odds against the U.S. government. The U.S. government has stolen some of the Terrigen crystals (the source of the Inhumans powers) and taken it for observation. Black Bolt is forced to use ever increasing forms of retaliation to try and get them back including bribery, kidnapping, and covert operations. And after each failed attempt not only does does Black Bolt’s frustration continue to grow. Not only does his anger begin to boil. But so too does the sorrow he has for the welfare of his kingdom. And, perhaps, the fear that he may be viewed as too weak of a leader for the rest of the Inhumans. With his entire kingdom crumbling down around him and the U.S. government challenging him to further the conflict BB truly has limited options. To make matters worse, the Avengers, naive to the actions of the U.S. government, arrive to confront BB about his actions. In an act of strength, defiance, and all-around bad-assery (bad-assedness?) BB, simultaneously, in word and action, takes a moment to ponder his situation and makes a simple declaration, “.....war.....” As a testament to the true power of BB the artist, Frazer Irving, truly illustrates just how powerful BB really is. This one simple word, “war”, was enough to incapacitate the Avengers, topple the brunt of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s primary assault AND level several Washington D.C. city-blocks. See? Bad-Ass.
Okay, first things first, if you don’t own Earth-X you should definitely read that. It is one of the best reads out there. It takes place in one of the many Marvel alternate realities (Earth-9997 to be exact) and basically has to do with one of those apocalyptic scenarios. Black Bolt is far more involved with this entire storyline than I am willing to divulge in this editorial and never let it be said that The Comic Life posts spoilers, but I cannot reiterate it to you enough, Earth-X is a must read!!!!! The sequels: Universe-X and Paradise-X...eh....not so much. In Earth-X the entire world is endangered because Earth has been serving as an incubator for a Celestial’s egg (if for some reason you don’t know what a Celestial is just think of it as an all-powerful demi-god). The birth of this Celestial will assure Earth’s destruction. Such is the circle of life (Nants ingonyama bagithi baba!!!). To add to Earth’s pending doom, Celestials from all across the universe are congregating at Earth to witness the birth of a new Celestial. If defeating one Celestial is impossible then a congregation of them is....sigh...hopeless. With the entire world reeling from previous events and doom knocking on their doorstep, BB makes a drastic decision. He flies towards the heavens, above the clouds, past the blue skies, through Earth’s atmosphere to the cold, dark, soundless void that is outer space. What does he do once isolated? In a move that is befitting only the most noble of people and giving the ultimate sacrifice, BB screams throughout the heavens, with all his might, penetrating the vast nothingness of space, for the one being in all existence that can aid the Earth. In doing so, the immeasurable power, which usually only erupts through Black Bolt’s mouth, volcanoes throughout his entire body, destroying him in the process. What remains? Physically, nothing. Just the echoes of a once powerful man willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Just some other quick things about Black Bolt that are interesting:
■ His actual power is particle manipulation. His body produces a particle unique to only him. The most obvious way it manifests is through his voice, but he can also use it to augment his strength, fly, and create explosions. It also affects him mentally which is why he is not susceptible to mental probes.
■ He’s a member of Marvel’s Illuminati. That’s right when Iron Man assembled Marvel’s Illuminati he strategically selected specific individuals for their power and influence: Charles Xavier (world’s most knowledgeable mutant and top-notch telepath), Doctor Strange (the Sorcerer Supreme and mystic mastermind), Namor (ruler of the Atlantis, king of the sea), Reed Richards (leader of the FF and world-renowned scientist), Black Panther (then-ruler of the world’s most advanced nation, brilliant tactician), and Black Bolt. The simple fact that he was invited shows how much he is respected by his peers and his importance in the Marvel Universe. (*Bonus: When the Illuminati decided to send the Hulk to outer space, Charles Xavier told the rest of the group, “Black Bolt is laughing at you in his mind”....dead giveaway...deaaaaaaaaaaaddddd givvveeeeeawaaaaayyyyyy)
■ He screamed throughout space and his voice carried. DUH!!!!
Dennis Howell - Co Founder/Senior Writer