Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Black Bolt: King of Kickass (Or: Black Bolt needs his own series!)

Yes, that’s why it’s been so long since my last post. I’ve been working on that title all this time.

Many of you may know Black Bolt from his many guest appearances in Fantastic Four. He’s the benevolent king of the Inhumans, those wacky super powered beings that aren’t quite mutants, aren’t quite Eternals, and aren’t quite good enough to carry their own ongoing series.

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Even in a rich world like the Marvel Universe, populated with wild and wacky characters, Black Bolt stands out. None of his attributes are completely original, but he wears them in a way that is uniquely his own. He’s super strong…we’re talking Thing-level, easy…but still slim and agile (not commonplace in the MU). He’s got a variation of the popular “sonic scream” power, but to such a degree that it makes Banshee look like a child pitching a fit. This is also a dangerous power that he constantly has to keep under control. He can’t hide it behind a ruby visor and go on living life normally…his merest whisper is like setting off a nuke in town square.

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And, he is a king. Not by fear (Doom), or force (Namor), or even by weird cultural bylaws (Black Panther). Just because the Inhumans love him so damn much. The Inhumans WORSHIP this guy like you wouldn’t believe…they make the citizens of Latveria look downright rebellious by comparison. And he loves them right back. He is infinitely loving of his loyal subjects and patient with his detractors…such as his insane brother Maximus. Despite how many times Max has tried to take over the royal family, Black Bolt treats his mentally ill brother with kindness and respect.

Look at the lengths BB will go to keep his family together. He takes his runaway cousin Crystal all the way to the very edge of the moon’s Blue Area, where there is just the faintest hint of oxygen, just so he can say:

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(Well, his heart was in the right place)

But look at some of the feats Black Bolt has pulled off. He’s destroyed cities merely by speaking, but he’s done that so often that it almost goes without saying. He has knocked out the Hulk. Not fought him to a standstill, not turned him back into Banner, but knocked his ass OUT. He defeated Graviton, who…oh, yeah…had turned into a living BLACK HOLE at the time. He has technically taken out a Watcher (actually Doctor Doom with a Watcher’s stolen power, but still!).

Black Bolt once came upon the Silver Surfer in a pitched battle with another cosmic being. He told them to stop. In soundless space. And they DID.

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He once scared off a cosmic entity called the Vortex (a “galaxy-collector”) by ALMOST saying something. And he yelled at Galactus…who was on the other side of the galaxy…and Galactus got his ass in gear and SHOWED UP!

He also totally curb-stomped Apocalypse, which is much less impressive than the above feats, but it’s so awesomely represented in this one page that I just had to display it.

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Despite his great power and stylish black leotard, Black Bolt will forever be defined in the minds of fans by five little words: “Tuning. Fork. On. His. Head.” Which is not terribly surprising, as he does, in fact, have a tuning fork sticking out of his head.

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See? Right there, tuning fork. Now admittedly, the Inhumans have a…flamboyant fashion sense to begin with. But Black Bolt’s costume isn’t much different than your average super hero spandex getup. Actually, it’s cooler than most, and Black Bolt himself is cool enough that we forgive him the little wings under his arms. But the tuning fork just comes out of nowhere. It doesn’t even try to hide the fact that it’s a tuning fork. And sure, it does serve a purpose. It collects electrons from the air and converts it into strength, and other vaguely defined feats of energy manipulation. But that’s only icing on the cake. In reality, there’s one reason and one reason only that Black Bolt wears that thing:

He WANTS you to say something about it.

Ohhh, Black Bolt is PRAYING that you say something about the tuning fork on his head! Just so he can KICK your INSOLENT ASS up and down the Blue Area of the Moon.

Magneto made fun of the tuning fork, to his lasting regret. And really, who is he to be dissing anyone else’s headgear?

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The Sphinx talked some smack too, and Black Bolt knocked him right into character limbo. And again, the Sphinx has perhaps the worst hat I’ve ever seen.

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Black Bolt whaled on Gladiator so bad that even Superman felt it, and that doesn’t make a lick of sense (I’m sensing a pattern here about head adornment envy).

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The Hulk, Black Bolt’s first opponent with a comparatively normal head, made the mistake of referring to the King of Attilan as “Fork Head”. Baaaad move, stupid.

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All Namor did was shout “Imperius Rex”, but Black Bolt didn’t care. He kicked his ass for him anyway. The Inhumans could conquer Atlantis in a flash, they just don’t want to. There’s no boardwalk, what the hell are they gonna do with it?

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Neither friend nor foe are spared Black Bolt’s righteous wrath. The Thing probably thought he was being funny when he made his little witticism. But it wasn’t very funny when he was collecting pebbles from his jaw off the floor.

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Ikaris was next to receive Black Bolt’s mighty pimp-hand, both for being flippant and for generally being an all-around inferior Kirby creation.

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Doctor Doom insulted Black Bolt, and did so while speaking in the third person. So he had to go.

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The Hulk, moron that he is, forgot what happened last time and insulted Black Bolt again. But Black Bolt is full of mercy for the mentally challenged, and only hit him once.

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Black Bolt’s awesomeness is often eclipsed by his family, who…God bless them…suck more than a little.

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The Royal Family follow BB around, generally aggravating people and getting into trouble that Black Bolt must save them from. They are one-note characters for the most part, with ugly character designs and dumb power. A big dumb goat-man, a woman with living hair, a fish that walks on two legs, a big-headed uppity nerd who knows karate, and a big ugly dog. Medusa is kinda hot, but that’s about as far as it goes. As this is a snark-free blog, the less said about them the better. Suffice it to say, they are holding him back.

This is a guy, if you cut him loose from the zoo crew, that could head into space and have the kind of cosmic adventures that Silver Surfer and Adam Warlock have. Facing down alien armadas, matching wills against cosmic entities, dueling with Thanos whenever Jim Starlin isn’t writing him…I would read that! You wouldn’t read that? Hell yeah you would!

So, to sum up: Black Bolt, immensely cool. Being held back by his family. Needs a solo series in the worst way. Tuning fork on purpose. Lives to kick ass.

Oh, and just in case you don't have anything to say about the tuning fork...

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...he has a hat, too.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was GREAT!

Not only a good overview of the character, but fun to read.


5/02/2006 9:41 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

The best part?

His name is ACTUALLY "Blackagar Boltagon"!

THAT, my friends, is commitment to a theme!

5/02/2006 6:58 PM  
Blogger joncormier said...

Okay, I was only vaguely aware about Black Bolt and his awesomeness but this seals the deal.

Anyone who simply uppercuts people when he could talk their head off, literally, is cool in my book. I hope he gets a mini-series out of Civil War. Hell, I'd fake some credentials and write one.

5/03/2006 10:33 AM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

You know he can't talk, right?

I'd call it dang near impossible to write a series about a character that can't talk in a monthly format. It would take so much more freaking work.

Plus Karnak is way cooler.

5/03/2006 3:23 PM  
Blogger Sean Whitmore said...

dj anderson - Thanks!

Chris - Careful there...he's hurt people for saying his full name.

joncormier - You and me both!

MarkAndrew - Karnak's head looks like a big zit. I wanna pop it.

5/03/2006 5:12 PM  
Blogger joncormier said...

If Owly and Teller (or Penn, I don't remember) can make a career out of not talking, then Black Bolt can carry a mini series.

5/05/2006 11:12 AM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

Yeah, but how often has Black Bolt utilized thought balloons or expository captions? Because I think those things would totally ruin his whole mystique.

5/05/2006 10:20 PM  
Blogger Sean Whitmore said...

The caption thing is a bit of a balancing act, I think. Too many just kills it, but relying solely on body action can lead to confusion like at the end of "Illuminati".

Definitely no thought balloons, though.

5/06/2006 12:29 AM  
Blogger joncormier said...

Bah, it should be ALL thought balloons!

5/08/2006 11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is awesome and I'm still crakcing up here...You made my day - but you know what? I can't share this - because I don't any friends who actually geek about comics to know what the hell I'm talking about.
Karnak is a little nerd, and they are the zoo crew...its's funny how I knew that, but wasn't conscious of how much they suck, ha ha...
Black Bolt could at least have a miniseries - and as far as his brother - who Kirby drew as a great charming maniac - He really isn't even close to giving his brother a challenge - is he?

8/18/2006 9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Q? WHat issue is it where Black Bolt nocks out hulk with wisper ? wikipedia says hulk annual 1, but i can't find such thing ?

9/04/2006 5:40 PM  
Blogger blue said...

Check out this link for the reference:

BTW This was an incredible write-up. At first, I thought that it was too harsh on the rest of the Inhumans (c'mon, Crystal is not bad at all); but the more I thought about that big-headed Karnak, the more I'm afraid you might be right...

9/13/2006 3:39 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

black bolt is my favorite character by far. i loved this website, excellent job.

4/12/2007 11:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happened with Black Bolt in World War Hulk?

Hulk kick his ass!


7/04/2007 6:47 PM  
Blogger dude said...

You know, it may have been a skrull the hulk beat not the true Black Bolt.Suckah!

12/01/2007 1:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, a series would be possible given a good diverse supporting cast to react to what he does, and maybe a telepath to explain what he says.

4/01/2008 11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Medusa is Blackbolt's voice. That's her primary purpose. When Blackbolt is about to give someone a beatdown, she makes sure there's no confusion as to why. And on paper, her power may seem lame, but along with her physique it does make her quite hot, and she can do all sorts of silly impossible crap with her hair. Like, turn it into a giant parachute, or hurl boulders with it (She's listed as having super strength, in her hair.) or in one instance she beat the crap out of Venom by creating sonic vibrations when she whipped him with her hair (she thought he had killed Spider-Man, and was quite pissed.)

Gorgon is basically Avalanche with his powers coming from his legs instead of his hands. Not entirely useful, but different. I think of him as a reverse minotaur.

And yes, Karnak's helmet looks silly, but having the ability to find the weakest point of anything, and use martial arts gives him awesome plot armor. You have to admit, it's pretty awesome to have a guy around who can stand down a tank, tap it on the right spot, and have it shatter to pieces in front of him.

8/02/2008 11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This has got to be one of the best blogs ever written on my all time favorite Marvel Comics character, Black Bolt. When I wasn't agreeing with the overview of the character as portrayed here, I was gasping for oxygen between my bouts of manic laughter while reading the hilarious bits of with thrown in to break up the serious overtones of the piece.
I do wish MARVEL would consider giving Blakagar his own series or at the least, the Inhumans though I do think the writers would be limited as far as what they can do with the character if he got his own solo series as Medusa is usually neccessary to convey his messages. I would think they would write themselves into a corner eventually while trying to figure out what situations they could involve BB in without Medusa as a speaking crutch.
Regardless, I appreciate the fact that the character is still around and MARVEL sees fit to use him every now and then.
Again, this blog was an absolute joy to read and I look forward to a follow up soon!
Now...where did I put that tuning fork and tube of Krazy glue?

8/21/2008 12:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are the comics you got the images from if you don't mind me asking? BTW I've spread the BB blog you wrote in as many forums as I can and sometimes link to it just for the heck of it to remind them of the King of Kickass.

9/26/2009 3:34 PM  
Blogger Chris Faccone said...

HI! What book and issue was the scene when black Bolt punches Namor? Avengers?

9/27/2009 5:41 AM  
Anonymous viagra online said...

I dont' know what producers are waiting for, is logical that Black Bolt need his own series, one that will be different that we usually watch.

7/21/2010 2:49 PM  
Blogger Alexander Lorenzen said...

Very well written. Mighty pimp-hand haha.....Black Bolt is one of my favorite comic characters, but so are the Inhumans. You should really give them more credit. One of the things that makes them interesting is the fact that they are so strange. The relationship between Black Bolt and Medusa is actually one of the most interesting relationships in the Marvel universe. He can't even speak to her, yet she understands him in a way that no one else can.

Also, underarm wings/webbing are always awesome. Do people really have a problem with BB's appearance? They're stupid.

8/02/2010 12:57 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

He has the best uni in comics.

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