There’s No Such Thing As “Down Time” in Black Bolt 7

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

I think it’s fair to ask where superheroes find their peace. Zipping through space, or ruling ancient kingdoms, or even fighting street-level crime leaves very little time or energy for self-reflection. Realistically, all these guys would be suffering from PTSD, so even those quieter moments would be rife with unease and conflict. As Black Bolt heads back to Earth, writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Frazer Irving demonstrate how, even when the weary do get to rest, it’s not very restful.

The issue starts by demonstrating that literally. First, Black Bolt cannot sleep because he has nightmares. No big deal, right? Everyone has nightmares. I had a nightmare earlier this week that I couldn’t get out of my apartment because every time I opened the door to leave, there was another door behind it. I awoke with a start, grumbled about how early it was and went back to sleep. But Black Bolt has a lot to fear in that sudden wake-up: any time he’s not fully in control of his voice could spell certain doom for everyone and everything around him. Okay, so he can’t find peace in his own restful periods — surely he can find peace in the restful period of a child?

Here’s another one of the issue’s brilliant “yeah… but”s. Blink’s nightmares end up being broadcast via her telepathic powers. Black Bolt is made to believe he’s fighting Blink’s captors, which hardly makes for a peaceful voyage. This cycle continues, on and on, if it’s not one thing, it’s another, a sort of unending nightmare of interruptions. Irving is a perfect fit for this story, as his painterly contours grant a sense of scope to otherwise confined spaces.

Irving’s art is all fantastic, and the sheer beauty of it goes a long way to selling these disparate micro-stories as a cohesive whole. That, and the fact that every vignette is merely foreshadowing for Black Bolt’s homecoming, which should be a nice, peaceful moment right? Oh wait — we know that’s not how this works.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

One comment on “There’s No Such Thing As “Down Time” in Black Bolt 7

  1. I don’t think the vignettes are that disparate. Instead, I think they represent the ways that the horrors Black Bolt faced in the prison do not just belong in the prison, but in society at large. The mental anguish and pain is not just a consequence of prison – it exists outside of prison. The lack of empathy and seeing others as lesser applies just as much to giant monsters as it does to wardens. And institutional villainy doesn’t have to exist just in a prison, it exists in the Conclave of Seven Planets.

    Whether by comforting others, opening communication or fighting, Black Bolt and Blinky overcome these issues this time. But it sets the stage for what he will find on Earth. He may have escaped the prison, but he has not escaped the same forces that the prison represented

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