Black Bolt Vol. 1 Review

Black Bolt Vol. 1

Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Artist: Christian Ward with Frazier Irving (#5)
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Review by Emily Gafford

Black Bolt is unpredictable, unique and stunning. The story follows the main character, a captive held in an ever-evolving prison, named Black Bolt. Throughout this first arc, we also meet a very diverse group of prisoners, each with their own reasons for being imprisoned.

The prison they find themselves trapped in appears to have a mind of its own and is shrouded in mystery. As Black Bolt and his friends seek to unravel the truth held at the heart of the prison, they find unexpected horrors and defeat instead.

This group of ragtag prisoners will have to work together and rely on each other’s strengths if they ever want to make it out.  But they get significantly more than they bargained for as their resolve is tested, as well as their strength. Will they ever escape? Or will they be trapped in this enigmatic prison forever?

The Story

The writing style of Saladin Ahmed is absolutely sensational. Ahmed is primarily known for his science fiction and fantasy short stories, which have been nominated for both the Nebula and Campbell Awards.  However, he also won the prestigious Eisner Award in 2018 for best new series with his take on Black Bolt.

What really captured me was the depth and maturity to his storytelling that makes even a seasoned novel reader enjoy reading a comic. The character development was intentional and fantastic, and each page left me wanting more. The beginning pages in this book give light to Ahmed’s poetic ability to weave words together as he paints tales of worlds far away with ease.  His storytelling capability pairs with the art style of Christian Ward and Frazer Irving like a finely aged wine and cheese.

The Art

Ward and Irving do an outstanding job bringing this world to life in a way I was not expecting. Simply put, I love the art in this book! I was very pleased with the variety of vibrant colors chosen throughout the book.  The color scheme chosen for this book is one of my favorites and really facilitates the reader’s ability to get lost in this world they’ve created. It includes beautiful shades of cerulean, coral and chartreuse. This palette is striking and pairs well with the art style.  

Ward and Irving do a fantastic job capturing the raw emotion of each character and making the reader really feel what these characters are feeling. The stark contrast of the interior art in comparison to the cover of issue one perfectly mirrors the dueling emotions within each of the characters throughout this story.

The Verdict

Overall I am in love with what this creative team did in Black Bolt. And that’s saying a lot considering I had never read a single issue of this character’s story prior to this. The art and writing are woven together in a beautiful and seamless way. The story captured and kept my attention from page one until the end. I am hooked after devouring volume one of this story and I can’t wait to read more! If I could, I would give this book a six out of five. Go pick it up now!