Comic fans may be new to the works of Saladin Ahmed, but fantasy readers are already big fans of his short stories and novel, “Throne of the Crescent Moon.” Ahmed is clearly a big comics fans, and in an interview with CBR, he expressed his hope in appealing to “new readers; ones who don’t necessarily know who Black Bolt is.” However, though his and artist Christian Ward’s series is an Inhumans-based tale, placing Black Bolt behind bars in a cosmic prison, it was originally going to be about a character from much deeper in the Marvel roster.
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In the outer space prison that King Blackagar Boltagon finds himself in, there is one other prisoner from Earth — Crusher Creel, the Absorbing Man, and most classically a nemesis to the Incredible Hulk. And, as Ahmed revealed, he’d originally envisioned the series as starring the villain. “I originally had developed some of the pitch as a miniseries around Crusher,” Ahmed said. “Just around the time I was getting ready to pitch it to Marvel, editor Wil Moss came to me and said that since I have a background in science fiction and fantasy he was thinking about me for ‘Black Bolt.’ I said, ‘It’s funny, because I have this back pocket pitch that I was going to send you.’ Then when we bounced these things off of each other they just immediately meshed. That’s where this story came from. So Crusher predates Black Bolt as far as Marvel characters I’ve wanted to write about. He’s a hero to me, even if he’s a villain.”
Ahmed’s passion for the Creel has given the book an unexpected dimension. “He and Black Bolt immediately have a kind of weird connection,” Ahmed said. “Crusher is very much the co-star of at least this first arc of the book. There’s almost a buddy picture feel to it. It’s been a lot of fun playing this king off of a lifelong con.”
“Black Bolt” #1, written by Saladin Ahmed with art by Christian Ward, debuts in May.