by Patrick Ehlers
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
After surviving every possible kind of of mythological encounter in the ancient world, Odysseus returns home to find his quiet domesticity in shambles. His home has become a campground for suitors intent on stealing his wife away from him. Odysseus isn’t much for subtlety by this point in his journey, so his solution is to slaughter the lot of them and forcibly reclaim the seat he was forced to vacate so long ago. Black Bolt is also returning from an unexpected journey and is forced to reconcile his time away with his desire to return. Unlike Homer, writer Saladin Ahmed does not allow his hero to slay his way back to normalcy.
In fact, Ahmed is pretty straightforward about the mixed-blessing this homecoming is going to be. The omniscient narration waxes poetic about the place Earth holds in Black Bolt’s heart, while at the same time cuing artist Christian Ward to remind readers of some of the most complicated threats and powers still housed on the planet. Jean Grey, Doctor Strange, Loki — these are all friends and enemies simultaneously, and they’re all aware of Bolt’s return. These avatars of ambivalence give way to the actual Inhumans, who have one hell of a complicated reaction to Black Bolt’s return, alternating between opening fire and heeling his wounds. He’s missed a lot — including the enslavement of his people in Secret Empire — and his people aren’t about to let him off the hook for that.
This is expressed most obliquely in the scene where Ahura stops his father on his way out of town. Ward literally places Ahura in the middle of the page, creating a chasm between the two characters in the scene.
The are obstacles that Black Bolt cannot punch or scream his way through. Every difficult reconciliation needs to actually be made, and while this issue comes nowhere near finding resolution for any of these relationships, it does insist on the sensitivity required to navigate them.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?