by Saladin Ahmed & Christian Ward
Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward have created such an interesting comic book centred around a character who can’t really speak. I have been thoroughly enjoying this series since it’s first issue and this week’s issue #9 is definitely the best so far. Ahmed and Ward tell the story of a woman, recently receiving the news that her husband has died. The issue takes us through her reactions and the reaction of the community surrounding her. The catch is the deceased man is Crusher Creel, a known super villain who has surely killed many before, but in his last moments alive, saved many. It is a touching story about the value of a man’s life and what that means when he dies.
The story in this issue is so fascinating. Ahmed surprises issue after issue with this book and this week he blew me out of the water. However, I’m going to focus on the art first and then get to the story later because Ward is just straight up brilliant here. His style is so unique and surreal it makes every page extremely interesting and wonderful to look at. His combination of clean lines mixed with a psychedelic color effects makes for exciting action sequences and beautiful flash backs. I am also very impressed with his scalability. The same scene can be viewed from multiple angles because of the details he chooses to include in the smaller scale views. Some of the pulled back views are actually my favorite. He is also very strong at subtly conveying the characters expressions, which is quite important for the main character Black Bolt who does not speak. Most panels, all we get form him is a look and it is helpful to the story telling that we understand the expression he is wearing. Overall, Ward’s art here is some of the best you will see in comics. He is creating some really interesting and extremely impressive visual storytelling.
Okay, back to the story. If you have read any of this book you know Black Bolt started the series in an alien prison he had to escape from. Well, he did escape, and he did this by making some friends along the way. One of these friends, Crusher Creed, even laid down his life so Black Bolt and others could escape, including a number of children. This issue kicks off with Black Bolt visiting the widow of Crusher Creed to inform her of the passing. Now remember, Black Bolt met Crusher in a prison, because Crusher is not a very good dude. He is a super villain and as such, his wife is also a super villain. So, upon seeing Black Bolt, a man who can’t really quickly explain a situation, she attacked. It wasn’t until Black Bolt’s adopted psychic alien child Blinky was able to show Titania (the widow) through psychic sight that indeed Crusher was dead and he had saved many at the end. This is where Ahmed surprises me and takes me on a journey I didn’t know I needed. He focuses on the sorrow of Titania and the struggle of being the wife of a super villain. I know we are just dealing with fictional characters here, but it is easy to just paint it black and white and forget that all these characters are people. We often get a number of sorrowful comics when a hero has recently died in comics, but we rarely see one focused on the affected people surrounding a villains death. Tom King approached this topic in Batman #26 this year and surprise surprise, that was my week’s finest pick also.
The part that really stood out to me in this is when Captain America and Thor showed up to the funeral as well. Captain America was kind of there by accident but Thor came to pay respects. This also brought a new perspective to things for me, that heroes might possibly also attend villains funerals. I mean wouldn’t we expect Professor X to be at Magnito’s funeral? The issue also focused a lot on Crushers final actions, which were in fact heroic as Captain America points out. Should a man be remembered by who he was or who he was in the end? This comic explores both avenues.
This was another great issue of Black Bolt from Ahmed and Ward. This issue is filled with emotion and action with some beautiful art that complements both.