Horrific storyline, with grotesque revelations, but this is hauntingly told, lushly illustrated, and just the perfect book, a book that Black Bolt deserves. Favorite character, author, illustrator, and book.
Love, love, love.
I love everything about this and wish I had time to write a longer review, but I can't. I want to read the next issue and catch up with comics since I only have one day a week that I really allow myself to read right now. I can only afford Friday's at this point, so it's going to have to be a very short review. This series is absolutely a fantastic place to start reading about the Inhumans: it explains what it needs to in story, without feeling like an info dump, and it's pretty much a stand alone story. A newbie to this fandom would do well starting with this series, in face.
And the real problem is that as serious, and mind-bending, and tragic, and thoughtful as this book gets, the humor is really what ties this all together. It's not that Roberts can't wring a gut-wrenching story that I lapped up without the humor - but because I've seen how he handles it with humor, I know there's something missing.
The real problem for me is within all this tension? The humor broke it up. And there just wasn't as much, and it wasn't laugh-out-loud funny for me, and I kinda ached for that.
Still, the whole issue of selling grief is compelling, especially when the reality is shown to be different than the concept: it's eerie to know that even though we knew it was going to happen, we didn't know what it would look like in the end. Then again, neither did anyone in the book.
I'm sure this will be a continuing theme - and I want to see how it plays out. Soon, I'm sure. Soon.
I never thought that a conversation between Black Bolt and The Absorbing Man (aka Crusher Creel) would take up a whole comic. I would have laughed at you if you told me it was one of the most poignant, thoughtful comics you've read.
But it was.
It was about family, about life, about what it meant to fight to live even when you were doomed. It was full of heartache and hope, an understanding between two vastly different people who wouldn't have bonded if they weren't quite literally chained together. With a limited amount of oxygen, meant to suffocate them eventually. I think the knowing you're going to die and not being able to stop it was the cruelest thing about this storyline.
The facial expressions brought their conversation to life. Spot on, as heartwarming and heartbreaking as the conversations themselves were. Between this and Once and Future Kings, I'm also shipping Black Bolt and Medusa hard right now. Medusa may be more prominent - more active - in the one issue we have of the mini-series than in four issues of Black Bolt, but she's definitely a presence. Always with Black Bolt, even if only in his thoughts, he admits she was a better ruler than he, all openness and no bitterness. She was, and I think she inspires him to be better even now. (When she stripped him of his title of king, and of the right to her, he simply bowed his head and left: he might not think himself the ruler Medusa is, but he also never coerced her into anything. He accepted her wishes, and I think he gets a bad wrap. He had to make a lot of bad choices to stop worse things from happening, in a very short amount of time. He also didn't let Medusa in on anything, and I think his secretiveness - protecting her, most likely - was also his greatest weakness. If he truly believes her to be the better ruler, perhaps she could have stayed his hand and come up with something better for everyone with him.)
But this is a lot of Crusher. Who Crusher was as a child, what made him become the way he was. It's a lot about not dying quietly. It's about what forms you, and how that comes into play later in life. It's about the choices you make.
It's about life.
Although I question that ending. Clearly things were going to happen as they did. A word or two and things could have changed for Crusher. I suspect surprise kept Black Bolt talking the way he did, but I'm shocked that after that talk fest, he didn't think of Crusher's safety sooner.
Also, I'm trying to remember where I saw a certain character last. I have to go back and look that up, now...
I just can't even tell you how happy I am about this title. I'm five-starring it despite the retcon, by the way. It's a pretty big plot-hole/retcon. See, Maximus Boltagon's sanity was destroyed when Black Bolt (aka Blackagar Boltagon) used his voice to stop some Kree enemies, and he accidentally killed some Attilan muckety-mucks - including his parents. (And Maximus' parents, which probably didn't help him going mad there.)
In this, Maximus seems pretty sane, but their parents are dead. Now maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this will show that he isn't quite sane, but no one's realized yet, but I doubt it because they talk about his genius powers - powers that were supposedly stunted after the death of the Boltagon parents. So far this is either a pretty massive plothole or a retcon. I'm okay calling it a retcon and just accepting that, mostly because this story is amazing. The writing is fun, the characterizations are not only solid but move these characters - as children - forward in a way that makes sense with their adult counterparts, and there's plenty of action, although some of is political maneuvering. (Some of it is not; some of it is some pretty old school comic fights, which I love.)
Top it off with Phil Noto as an artist, and I'm all in. Young Black Bolt, young Maximus, young Medusa, young Lockjaw? Aw, yeah. I do hope they get in the other royals - we see a bit of Crystal, but just in the background, but I want to see what young Triton, Karnak and Gorgon look like. I want to see them, to have them interact, although I doubt they will.
As far as plot, someone is using the Alphas, the created race that work as the Inhumans' slaves in Attilan. Someone wants The Living Terrigenesis, the ruler until Black Bolt comes into his own power and matures enough to be king, dead. He seems to be working for his own good rather than the good of the young royals, or of Attilan, much less for the good of the general population in Attilan.
Someone is determined to kill him, and to see Black Bolt and Maximus safe - but who? Maybe it's just me being paranoid, but I'm not sure I trust him as much as I think I'm supposed to in this issue. Maybe it's because I know the Living Terrigenesis will become The Unspoken, so reviled that his name is stricken from memory. Elisha is working against The Unspoken, true, but that doesn't mean he's truly got the best in mind for Black Bolt and Maximus. And the ending makes it clear that the two young boys are in over their head, and stranded in a place they know very little about - a place Elisha describes as Wonderland to them.
If Elisha should abandon them, they might not be as able to fend for themselves as they undoubtedly think they are.
Meanwhile, Medusa has been mentioned to The Unspoken by Maximus. He's trying to coerce her into becoming his wife, and she's angry at both boys. While she cuts them with her sharp tongue, and holds them aloft with her glorious, living, weaponized hair, she's also drawn into the danger her future husband and his brother find themselves in now.
Still, this is a gorgeously lush comic, full of intrigue. It gives a little background to Medusa, and it makes it more clear why Black Bolt holds her so dear. She rebels against all injustice, even when she knows it can undo her and her family: it's still unjust. And while everyone is willing to keep their head down, Medusa is not.
I'm sad this is only a five issue mini-series, while I'm also thrilled it exists at all. Still, I would buy this on a monthly basis for years.