The Inhuman king Black Bolt is getting his first solo ongoing series, spinning out of the post-IvX "ResurrXion" line. This follows Monday's announcement of the ongoing series Royals, starring Blackagar and his fellow royal Inhuman family.
Written by The Crescent Moon Kingdoms novelist Saladin Ahmed with art by Christian Ward, Black Bolt finds Blackagar Boltagon incarcerated in the galaxy's most dangerous prison.
"Black Bolt has been - he’s kind of an odd character, because he’s been around in the Marvel Universe for fifty years," Ahmed explained to i09. "He was created by, you know, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby back in the day. And the Inhumans have always been this sort of interesting, almost 'cult' thing, in the Marvel Universe. They’ve never been as famous as the X-Men or The Hulk, or Spider-Man, or anything like that. For more kinda hardcore Marvel nerds, they’re these touchstone characters. I don’t want to say 'hipster,' [laughs] a hipster test—but if you know who the Inhumans are, then you’re sort of like, on the inside. So, the challenge is bringing him to new readers. He’s this kind of strange, sort of ‘60s cosmic Marvel character. Very much a creation of his time."
Ahmed and Marvel have been discussing a project for some time, but Ahmed wasn't expecting to be handed Black Bolt - or any of the Inhumans - though his fans may have seen him as a good fit.
"The Inhumans have always intrigued me, although they weren’t necessarily the first property I would have gone to—the connection wouldn’t have occurred to me immediately," said Ahmed. "Although it’s funny because, like a year or so back, I was contemplating trying to pitch something and I asked a bunch of my readers. 'Who do you think you could see me writing in the Marvel Universe?' And several said, 'The Inhumans.' Oh really! And Marvel in fact came to me, and said 'We want you on a Black Bolt solo book. Would you be interested in doing that?' Now, I basically... you know, it’s Marvel, so [I went] 'Yes, yes, that’s great.'"
Ahmed wound up retrofitting part of a different story idea onto Black Bolt's narrative, coming up with the concept at the core of the new series.
"I had a back pocket pitch about incarceration, and some other stuff that was missing a piece. And I knew that the co-star of this [pitch] book was Crusher Creel, the Absorbing Man - it was a book about being locked up, basically. But I only had these very dim concept of this project, I didn’t know who the real star was. So when Marvel came to me and said, “Hey, would you consider doing a Black Bolt book?”, for plot reasons I can’t get into, it happened to sync up really well. This kind of nascent idea of a prison book I had. And they’re picking me for the Black Bolt book ended up linking really well for reasons that will only become apparent to the readers once we’re amidst the plotline."
As for where Black Bolt fits in Inhumans and Marvel continuity, Ahmed says it's intended to be new-reader-friendly.
"I’ll say this: it’s a bit of an odd book, because it’s both an Inhumans book and not, right?," Ahmed explained. "It’s very much a story that’s intended to be new reader friendly, despite it being this kind of cult property. It’s intended to bring in people who aren’t necessarily massive Inhumans fans, or even [fans of] Marvel continuity. So to a certain degree, at least at first, the book is not going to be bogged down by connections from all the other Inhumans things going on. There will be connections from folks who are looking for them, But one needn’t be versed on what’s going on with everybody—you don’t need to know all that to get into the book. It’s very much about one place and time. At least it starts out that way!"
"But, I think with this book, and with Black Bolt [as a character], it’s a story of a King, kind of discovering humility and also a nobility in people he was ready to write off. It’s a book about, nobility and power, and about your rank in the world. That’s for this arc, specifically. Now, further down the line, I think there’s a lot of stuff to explore with the question of the Inhumans and separatism vs integration—maybe even some questions of culture and immigration, when you have this question of the old world and the new world and all these things that are happening [to them]. But those questions, I think, don’t come directly into the book [when it begins]. This first arc readers will see is pretty self-contained, and is just meant to bring readers in."