Black Bolt #11 Review

by Charles Martin on March 07, 2018

Black Bolt #11 Review
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Artist: Christian Ward
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Sometimes you request a review assignment and you realize it's a huge mistake as soon as you finish the comic. What I want to do is convince you that Black Bolt #11 is a magnificent comic you've gotta read. But how can I possibly write something that's a more persuasive argument than Black Bolt #1-10? It ain't like I can go spoiling any of this issue's big twists; you'd never forgive me and you'd be right not to. 

When we last saw Black Bolt, he was staring in goggle-eyed shock at the big bad of the first story arc, the Jailer, resurrected and ominous as ever. This issue confirms what we pieced together from the little breadcrumbs dropped in previous issues: He piggybacked through his defeat in some corner of Blinky's mind, and now he's here to attack Black Bolt in his very weakest moment.

Titania comes through aces as Boltagon's current partner. She has a great role to play here, and she'll be pivotal in the finale as well. She's not the only member of the supporting cast that shines in #11; circumstances conspire to call Black Bolt's friends and family to step up. They do so in awe-inspiring ways.

Christian Ward's art remains staggeringly great. Now that we're headed into the conclusion, he makes superb visual callbacks to some of his best work in earlier issues. The Escher-esque stairs from the start show up again, as do the frenetic Pollock spatters of energy and colour that distinguished the first big climax in #6. It's not all mind-bending psychedelia that would do Jim Steranko proud; Mr. Ward still has space for visual humour. Blinky's skeptical squint must be seen to be believed.

To summarize the story developments in the most accurate and compelling way I can without dropping any spoilers, I'll say that the events we see unfold in this issue forge startling new links between Black Bolt's past and what he's experienced in this title. The links might stay metaphorical, or the finale could drive even deeper and pin things into a more literal loop. It'd certainly match the way themes and characters have recurred throughout the series.

I had no idea we would end up with these connections, but now that they've been revealed, they make an incredible amount of sense. At this point, it's clear that we're heading into a conclusion Saladin Ahmed has had planned since day one. (Lash's arc might have been squished a little by the need to end the book at #12, but that's not such a big loss.)

I think this issue falls short of perfection only because the series is suffering from a little twist ending fatigue. #9 offered a magnificent subversion of the clichéd "here comes the new villain, boogety boogety" ending; #10 played it depressingly straight. Though #11 closes with more twists, they're supported by some excellent foreshadowing work.

Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward have, since the first pages of #1, imbued Black Bolt with intensity, focus, and passion that do their protagonist proud. My expectations going into #11 were crazy high, and yet it delivered satisfying payoffs in a practically miraculous way. Most impressive of all, it ratchets up expectations even higher for the final issue. I will be there with bells on to see how everything plays out - and I hope you'll come along, too.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
<fingers crossed> Please don't end like Infamous Iron Man, please don't end like Infamous Iron Man, please don't end like Infamous Iron Man.