The new BLACK BOLT series has found the king of the Inhumans mysteriously behind bars, in a place known only as “The Prison.” How and why he ended up there might remain unknown for now, but you can bet Black Bolt won’t remain for long if he has anything to say about it—and thanks to this bizarre jail’s machinations, he can speak!
We caught up with the current “warden” of BLACK BOLT, writer Saladin Ahmed, to ask about the series, specifically issue #3—coming July 5—which features the inmates’ attempted jailbreak!
Marvel.com: At this point we’ve seen the first twos of Black Bolt, and it has set up an intriguing story. What was your motivation for throwing the king of the Inhumans into the slammer, so to speak?
Saladin Ahmed: Well, Black Bolt being sidelined from the rest of the royal family made sense for all sorts of plot and continuity reasons. But ultimately this story is about the very idea of incarceration—what is its purpose? Who does it happen to? Which crimes get punished? What does it do to people? So I suppose one of my motivations was forcing one of Marvel’s most powerful characters, a king unused to having his choices questioned—let alone labeled “crimes”!—to confront these questions in a very personal way.
Marvel.com: Can you reveal any more details about this mysterious prison where he’s incarcerated?
Saladin Ahmed: Without giving too much away: The place known only as The Prison is not what it seems. It shifts and changes, seemingly at random. It holds powerful criminals stripped of their powers. Black Bolt learned of this place in old Inhuman records known only to the king and queen. It should be a secret of his people, yet there are others here. The secrets of The Prison will be revealed over the next few issues, so all I can say is: keep reading!
Marvel.com: Issue #3 promises something that readers were no doubt hoping to see: a prison break! How does Black Bolt approach the breakout?
Saladin Ahmed: As it happens, Black Bolt is reminded rather quickly that this ain’t New Attilan and that he is not a king. As “new meat” he finds himself swept up in the jailbreak, rather than masterminding it, and as a ruler he does not like that. But he needs his fellow inmates and, for reasons that will be revealed, they need him as well. And working together is their only hope.
Marvel.com: Is there anyone in this prison that he can trust to help him break out? Which inmates will play a part?
Saladin Ahmed: As I say, he will need help. As a book, BLACK BOLT is absolutely centered on its titular hero. But there is a small cast of characters that coheres around Black Bolt as a sort of ensemble. We’ve already encountered Crusher Creel, The Absorbing Man, who I really think of as the co-star of this storyline. There’s also the alien child Blinky, the aged ex-conqueror The Metal Master, and the Skrull pirate woman Raava. Each of them will have a role to play not only in the breakout, but in the book overall.
Marvel.com: Christian Ward’s artwork really captures the mood of this otherworldly prison. What’s it been like working with him?
Saladin Ahmed: It’s been a dream. Christian is not only one of the most talented artists working in comics today, he’s a joy to work with. He puts real toil and thought into every panel and every layout. My writing on this book juggles a lot of moods and aesthetics—from Kafka to “Saw,” from Kirby dots to Victorian prison houses. It’s a pretty hard range to capture visually, but Christian has not only conveyed the story I’m trying to tell, he’s improved on it. Also, the guy does his own colors!
Make a break for it on July 5 with BLACK BOLT #3 by Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward!