Get to Know a Hero: Blackagar Boltagon (aka Black Bolt), King of the Inhumans

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c. Marvel Comics

Yes, his name really is Blackagar Boltagon. As always, I urge you to remember I’m just the messenger.

Alias: Black Bolt

Birthplace: Attilan (middle of the Atlantic Ocean)

Affiliations: Inhumans, Illuminati

Powers: Able to draw power from electrons in his environment, which can be channeled into his voice (at full power = nuclear blast) or his fists (“Master Blow”). The tuning fork doohickey on his mask helps Black Bolt gain a measure of control of the energy he takes in.

First AppearanceFantastic Four #45 (1965)

Creators: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

The son of Attilan’s two most prominent geneticists, Black Bolt was exposed to the Terrigen Mist en utero (most of the Inhumans aren’t exposed until they’ve learned to control the powers given them by their genetics). He was born with energy-manipulating powers of incredible magnitude, which, being a baby, he was unable to control — think about how often your kid cries. Now imagine if each time he cried, he loosed an energy wave of the same magnitude as an an atomic bomb (not seems like it, which, yeah, if you’ve ever heard an infant cry). He was banished to a sound-proof chamber, in which he lived, in relative isolation, until he was nineteen.

One month after his release, Black Bolt discovered his brother Maximus had made a pact with the Kree; Boltagon the elder used powers to bring the Kree ship down before the spies could escape. It crashed on the Inhuman Parliament building and killed, among many others, Black Bolt’s and Maximus’ parents and damaged Maximus’ sanity and his powers.

Guilt-ridden and having vowed to be silent except in the most dire of circumstances, Black Bolt was the only member his family left with the capacity to lead the Inhumans and so became their king. His reign was cursed pretty much from go because a king ruling a stable empire in just and orderly fashion simply isn’t all that interesting. One of Black Bolt’s first orders of business, after hearing reports about his cousin Triton’s treatment at the hands of the humans who captured him, was to isolate the entire Inhuman colony in the Himalayas. The remainder of the Inhumans apparently didn’t care for the view, as Maximus soon incited a coup, took the crown, and banished Black Bolt and the other members of the Royal Family from Attilan.

c. Marvel Comics

Bereft of their home and their people, Black Bolt et al wandered the Earth in search of Medusa, Black Bolt’s betrothed (also cousin. This is a royal family we’re talking about), who had disappeared during the coup. Sources are a little murky on why Medusa was with the Fantastic Four during this period but she was and that’s where Black Bolt found her (Black Bolt’s Marvel Wiki says one thing, Medusa’s says something else – if you know, feel free to give a shout out in the comments below). After locating his future bride (did I mention she’s also his cousin? I did. Mentioning again) Black Bolt, along with the other exiled members of the Royal Family, and the Fantastic Four return to Attilan and kick Maximus’ butt thereby putting Black Bolt’s back on the throne.

Black Bolt and Medusa get married and conceive a child. Yay! An heir! Oh, no. No, wait… the Inhuman Genetic Council attempted to force Medusa to terminate the pregnancy on the grounds that her husband’s powers were too powerful to be passed on. Medusa fled Attilan and had the child elsewhere though she eventually returned with the baby, whom the Council examined and agreed to allow to live but forbade any parental contact. Black Bolt decided he had tolerated the Council’s BS long enough and gave up the crown for love of his family though he and Medusa did return in extremely non-specific “times of need.”

Then, one day, he was king again and no one really thought much about it because comics and What If? and etc.

Cue interim Hulk stuff and obligatory Skrull stuff.

Black Bolt really didn’t care for the Skrull and took aggressive action against them, allowing Maximus (who, for some reason, he continued to allow to exist) to weaponize Black Bolt’s powers and the entirety of Attilan. In hopes of obliterating the Skrull with extreme prejudice, Black Bolt invaded the Kree Empire and forced Ronin the Accuser (who, by the way, is way cooler in the comics than he was in Guardians of the Galaxy – loathe as I am to say anything negative about that film) and the Empire to pledge allegiance to him. The Inhumans had great plans to live happily ever after with the people who created them in the first place but after Black Bolt’s apparent death, which ended up to not be his death, the resurrected Kree Supreme Intelligence, understandably pissed off at the usurper, ordered its people to obliterate the Inhumans who decided maybe Earth wasn’t so bad after all.

There’s some more What If? nonsense and then some Illuminati retconning.

c. Marvel Comics

Black Bolt tangled with Thanos when the Mad Titan stomped into Attilan demanding the return of his Inhuman-descended son (because that’s apparently a Thing Which Happened). Black Bolt was displeased at the invasion of his home and attempted to repel Thanos with his voice; Thanos came to no harm but his armor shattered (cue eggplant joke) and set off a Terrigen bomb. The mist spread in Earth’s atmosphere, activating the latent abilities of millions of potential Inhumans and, for some reason (science!) proving toxic to mutants (which the Inhumans are not). Black Bolt, meanwhile, was taken prisoner by Thanos and used as a weapon against the other Illuminati. Ultimately rescued by Maximus, Black Bolt convinced his brother to keep Black Bolt’s survival a secret. This displeased his wife who, upon Black Bolt’s inevitable return homeland exposure as very not dead, banished the king and became ruler of the Inhumans.

The X-Men held an entirely reasonable grudge against the folks who loosed a chemical that threatened to obliterate all mutant life on Earth and decided to obliterate them. It turned out, however, that the Inhumans were unaware of what was at stake and, once they came to understand, aided the X-Men in destroying the Terrigen Cloud. In the aftermath of seeing her estranged husband impaled by Emma Frost’s diamond arm, Medusa decided to reconcile and abdicated in order to join Black Bolt on Earth.

In case you’re wondering, Black Bolt agreed with Cap vis a vis the Superhuman Registration Act but did not take part in Civil War I.

Maximus just couldn’t stay out of trouble, prompting Black Bolt to come out of retirement to track him down, meeting privately before Maximus’ trial and switching faces and places with his brother using an image inducer.

Black Bolt is currently incarcerated in a deep space facility with holes the size of Attilan in his memory, no idea of how to get free, and isn’t sure he wants to. The Inhuman King’s first solo outing is written by Saladin Ahmed and features art by Christian Ward. It’s a phenomenal, beautiful, disturbing book and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Sources:

Marvel Universe Wiki – Black Bolt

Marvel Wiki – Blackagar Boltagon (Earth-616)

Wikipedia – Black Bolt

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