When you think of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby creations, Hulk, Thor, the X-Men and of course, the Fantastic Four all come to mind. The creative duo is responsible for many of the most beloved heroes of the Marvel Universe. But what about Black Bolt? He and the rest of the Inhumans were also part of the Lee/Kirby era of Marvel Comics, and yet, their popularity hasn’t risen to the A-list just yet.
Perhaps this will change when the Inhuman Royal Family make their live-action debut in theaters and ABC TV in “Marvel’s Inhumans.” That's why now’s the perfect time to learn more about the Inhuman King, Blackagar Boltagon, aka Black Bolt. Who is the quiet but extremely powerful leader of the Inhumans? Check out these 15 facts and find out!
15 KING OF THE INHUMANS
What separates the Inhumans from the rest of the Marvel Universe is their Royal Monarchy. A secluded, but technologically advanced people, the Inhumans’ home of Attilan is ruled over by a royal family, led by Black Bolt. Since their debut in 1965, Black Bolt has been the Inhumans' King, leading them into battle alongside, and sometimes against, the Fantastic Four, Avengers and other Marvel heroes.
While his reign has had its fair share of ups and downs, Black Bolt has been front and center when it comes to the Inhumans. Whether it’s battling against potential attacks on Attilan or actually moving the city from Earth to the Moon (and back again), as King, Black Bolt has taken responsibility for the actions of (and to) his people. Like any King throughout history, Black Bolt has made mistakes and been tested by outsiders, as well as his own people. However, when push comes to shove, there’s no one more devoted to the Inhuman species than Black Bolt.
14 (DYS)FUNCTIONAL ROYAL FAMILY
No matter if you’re a blue collar, working-class family or a genetically engineered race of superpowered beings, families are complicated. That is especially true with the Inhumans. Topping everything off is his tense relationship with Maximus, his younger brother. Maximus is a schemer; sometimes friend, but more often a foe of the Inhuman Royal Family, he is forever plotting to ruin his older brother. Maximus’ first appearance featured a plot to trick his own brother into creating sonic destruction to prove that Black Bolt is not fit to lead. Despite his apparent ill will towards the Royal Family, however, Maximus still remains an integral part of it.
As if a homicidal, treacherous brother wasn’t enough, Black Bolt has also had issues with other members of the family, including his own wife, Medusa. Black Bolt and Medusa have had a troubled history of breakups and makeups, with Medusa even assuming leadership of the Inhumans for a time. Upon conceiving a child with Black Bolt, the Inhuman society deemed the pregnancy a risk due to Black Bolt’s destructive power and shared DNA with Maximus. However, Medusa defied Black Bolt’s wishes and fled to Earth to give birth to her child.
13 SILENT BUT DEADLY
For many Marvel fans, the defining characteristic of Black Bolt is his voice. Black Bolt has one of the more tragic superpowers in all of comics: his actual voice is so destructive that merely a whisper is said to be able to destroy a mountain range. Therefore, as a child, he had to learn to become mute, for fear of hurting everyone around him. With his “quasi-sonic scream” always looming as a threat just behind his teeth, Black Bolt has undergone incredible mental preparations to control it. Imagine the importance of complete control of any vocal sounds, even while asleep or in extreme pain.
Interestingly, the power level of his scream has been linked to his emotions. So, while a whisper can still provide plenty of destruction, a full, angry scream could perhaps destroy a planet. The fork-like device worn on his head is there to help control his energy. Using the device, he can channel all this power inward to help enhance other aspects of his body, like strength, speed and durability. Luckily, most of the time Black Bolt has Medusa by his side acting as a sort of psychic interpreter.
12 SECLUDED AS A CHILD
While it’s unknown what powers will manifest in Inhumans after exposure to the Terrigen Mists, no one could have predicted what happened when an infant developed such a destructive power, such as Black Bolt. The introduction of the Terrigen Mists while still an embryo has heightened his physical attributes to a point where no Inhuman is able to stop him. When his parents saw the potential power in their son, while still a young baby, they decided that he was too much of a danger to society and placed him in seclusion.
Unable to interact with the rest of the Inhumans, Black Bolt grew up in complete isolation. Put in a soundproof room, he was taught to control his powers as best as he could, and became a model of self-restraint in many ways. He learns all the methods of control that allows Black Bolt to be completely mute and not even utter a simple word in his sleep. Upon being deemed fit to rejoin Inhuman society, Black Bolt assumed his role as King, with a vow to never utter a word unless in the defense of himself or his people.
11 DESCENDED FROM ALIENS
Despite hailing from Earth, the Inhuman people, like the name suggests, are not completely human. The Inhumans were created when the alien race known as the Kree came to Earth and began to experiment on humans. They created a genetically modified race of individuals to help them fight their bitter enemies, the Skrulls. While successful in creating an elite group of advanced humans, the experiments were eventually abandoned when the Kree found a prophecy that there would be a genetic anomaly that would lead to the destruction of their god-king, Supremor, and their society as a whole. Many believe this anomaly to be Black Bolt.
Over time, the Inhumans became secluded from their less powerful human counterparts and developed a society of their own. The key to unlocking the true potential of an Inhuman is through the process of Terrigenisis. During this time, an Inhuman is exposed to Terrigen Mists, which changes their physical makeup and allows them to mutate into their full potential. For some, it can be a horrific process, but for others, like the Royal Family, the process yields great power.
10 NOT JUST A PRETTY VOICE
While Black Bolt’s sonic scream gets all the headlines, he also possesses other incredible powers. Due to his introduction to the Terrigen Mists while still an unborn child, Black Bolt developed as a far superior Inhuman than the rest of his brethren. While most Inhumans are superior to humans, Black Bolt far exceeds them in just about every way. On top of his superior physical makeup, Black Bolt is also able to harness the power of his voice inward to allow for other superpowers. He’s able to focus that energy into concussive blasts from his hands, and he’s also able to fly with that same power.
One of his lesser-known abilities allows him to focus all the energy into a powerful punch, known as the Master Blow, which eventually leaves him in a vulnerable state. Other, more minor abilities include a resistance to telepathy, while also possessing a telepathic bond with members of his family. This allows him to communicate more clearly with his wife, Medusa, and in turn, allows her to be an interpreter of her husband’s wishes.
9 KILLED HIS PARENTS (BY MISTAKE)
In comics, a hero’s parents are never able to die of natural causes. The tragedy of losing a loved one allows them to fully develop into the great hero they’re meant to be. Needless to say, Black Bolt’s parents didn’t die peaceful deaths. Upon his reintroduction into Inhuman society, after Maximus attempts to get him to use his destructive powers, Black Bolt quickly discovered that his brother struck a nefarious deal with the Kree Empire. In the attempt to stop a Kree ship from leaving, Black Bolt uses his powerful voice to bring down the ship.
Pieces of debris from the fallen ship crash land into the Inhuman city, killing members of the Genetic Council and, sadly, Black Bolt’s own parents. Unfortunately for Maximus, since he was close to his brother when Black Bolt used his power, it left him with brain damage that led him to becoming insane. The death of Black Bolt’s parents, by his own hand, leaves him as King of the Inhumans -- a tragic ascension if ever there was one.
8 A FANTASTIC ALLY
It’s only fitting that the Inhuman Royal Family are close allies to Marvel’s “First Family,” the Fantastic Four. Through team-ups and romances, the two families seem to always find themselves intertwined with each other. Sometimes literally. First appearing in “Fantastic Four" #45, Black Bolt and the rest of the Inhuman gang have maintained close ties to Reed Richards’ crew. The Fantastic Four have helped the Inhumans throughout the years in many different battles, including helping Black Bolt stop Maximus in his many schemes. Black Bolt also teamed up with The Thing to help defeat Graviton.
Romantic ties between the families have also been a part of their respective histories. Black Bolt had to intercede in the budding romance between Inhuman Crystal and the Fantastic Four’s own Johnny Storm, for example. More recently, Medusa got in on the J-Storm action after splitting from her erstwhile hubby. Throughout the decades, Black Bolt and the Inhumans have crossed paths with the Fantastic Four more than any other Marvel heroes. Black Bolt also appeared on TV in the animated “Fantastic Four” TV series, making their connection a multimedia affair.
7 THE TERRIGEN BOMBS
One of the most famous storylines involving Black Bolt is perhaps his most infamous. The idea of a Terrigen Bomb has been used before in Black Bolt’s history. Created by Maximus, the first bomb was to be powered by Black Bolt’s voice and when detonated, thus spreading Terrigen Mists across the planet, turning everyone with the right genes into Inhumans. However, Black Bolt, with the help of Crystal, stopped the bomb from detonating.
The second “T-bomb,” which was actually developed by Black Bolt himself, was a vital part of the “Infinity” storyline, narratively curated by Jonathan Hickman. When Thanos searched for his long-lost son, he encountered an empty city with just Black Bolt. Unleashing a scream, Black Bolt attempted to stop the Mad Titan, but instead merely dazed him and instead set off the Terrigen Bomb. A massive cloud of Terrigen Mist was unleashed on the Earth and has resulted in the discovery of a new crop of Inhumans (called Nu-Humans) living among regular humanity. Later, it is found that Black Bolt might have always wanted the T-Bomb to detonate, and it wasn’t an accident.
6 THE QUIET ROOM
Perhaps being King isn’t all it is cracked up to be for Black Bolt. After abdicating the throne and going off the grid for a bit, Black Bolt decided to open up a bar, believe it or not. Dubbed “The Quiet Room,” the bar would be a place for people to go looking to avoid trouble. With Black Bolt’s imposing powers, no one dared cause a ruckus at The Quiet Room. If there was a fight, or a disagreement between patrons, they would suffer at the hands of Black Bolt.
However, the true nature of the bar isn’t actually just as a place to drink away your troubles, but as a neutral meeting ground for anyone who needs assurance that nothing bad will happen, making it perfect for cutting truces and holding peaceful meetings. The first appearance of The Quiet Room was during the “Inhumans: Attilan Rising” miniseries that took place during the “Secret Wars” event. However, even when Battleworld was destroyed and the universe was set right, The Quiet Room lived on.
5 THE ILLUMINATI
Cementing his place among the best and most influential minds in the Marvel Universe, Black Bolt is a long-standing member of Marvel’s Illuminati. Joining the likes of Tony Stark, Charles Xavier, Namor, Reed Richards, Doctor Strange and eventually others, the Illuminati is a group of powerful representatives from various parts of the Marvel Universe's Earth. First appearing in 2005, but later ret-conned to have existed since the Kree-Skrull War, the Illuminati’s original purpose is to form a pseudo-government among super people.
Tony Stark believed that with the combined knowledge and political/physical power among the group, events could be controlled behind the scenes. However, when some of the group refused the idea of forming a “government,” they decided to meet to exchange information from time to time. As leader and ruler of the Inhumans, Black Bolt was a critical member of the group. One of the most infamous decisions made by the Illuminati was the call to shoot Hulk into space for the good of humanity. Unfortunately for the group, the plan backfires when Hulk returns with an army, thus starting “World War Hulk” and eventually leading to the Illuminati's inglorious defeat.
4 BLACK BOLT: SKRULL
Marvel’s “Secret Invasion” told the story of a group of Skrulls that had been impersonating heroes for a long period of time, insidiously building their ranks within the community of Earth's defenders to rip them apart from the inside. After the hero Elektra is killed and found to actually be a member of the shapeshifting aliens, the heroes quickly fall apart and the Skrulls unleash their plan to take over.
The Illuminati found that Black Bolt, too, was replaced by a Skrull, and in the resulting fight, Namor kills the imposter. They soon discover that the Skrulls have held Black Bolt captive since the conclusion of “Silent War” and intend to use his quasi-sonic scream as a massive weapon. After learning of his whereabouts, and an ensuing battle between Attilan and Super Skrulls, Medusa rescues her husband with the aid of the Royal Family. Black Bolt decides to take the fight back to the Skrulls by turning Attilan into a weapon of its own and defeating the rest of the Skrull invaders by chasing their vessels and destroying them.
3 THE MAD KING
As a friend of the Fantastic Four, and ally to the Avengers, many heroes view Black Bolt as one of the good guys. However, he has had his fair share of questionable actions over the years. After the Skrulls attack in “Secret Invasion,” Black Bolt decided that he had enough and wanted to take the offensive against the enemies of the Inhumans, which included the Kree Empire. The Inhuman/Kree conflict had been waging war against each other for years since the time when Black Bolt killed his parents while trying to destroy Kree ships.
Now, with newfound purpose, Black Bolt declares war on the Kree and defeats Ronan the Accuser, installing himself as ruler of the Kree Empire. As if this wasn’t enough, the new ruler decided to take the fight to the Shi’ar Empire as well. Fighting with Vulcan, Black Bolt’s war on other alien empires is stopped when a bomb is detonated and he is presumed dead. As with many comic book deaths, however, news of Black Bolt’s demise was greatly exaggerated.
2 BEAT THE HULK (ALMOST)
The Hulk is regarded by many (including himself) as the “strongest one there is.” But what happens when he fights someone with a voice that can destroy planets? Long story short, the Hulk wins... but boy, does Black Bolt give him a run for his money! There have been a couple of occasions where Black Bolt has used his voice against the Hulk, but each time, the Hulk keeps going. During the “Incredible Hulk Annual" #1, after an unfortunate misunderstanding, the Hulk went on a rampage at the Inhumans’ home. In an attempt to stop him, Black Bolt used his “master blow,” which staggered the Hulk, and followed that up by stunning him with a whisper.
Short of knocking him out, Black Bolt was able to stop the Hulk from causing more destruction. In another encounter, the Skrull-Imposter Black Bolt (See #12) was able to use his voice to knock down the Hulk. However, the Hulk got back up and beat "Black Bolt" pretty handily. The jury’s still out on what would happen with a full scream from Black Bolt, but so far, the Hulk has taken everything Black Bolt dishes out and still come a-smashing.
1 ANSON MOUNT
The Inhuman Royal Family is set to make their live-action debut in a big way in September when “Marvel’s Inhumans” premieres in IMAX theaters, followed by ABC TV. With Anson Mount set to portray Black Bolt in the upcoming series, audiences around the world are soon going to learn about the character and the rest of the Inhuman Royal Family.
Mount is perhaps best known for playing Cullen Bohannon in the AMC series “Hell on Wheels.” He is rounding out the cast that also features Iwan Rheon (“Game of Thrones”) as Maximus, Ken Leung (“Lost”) as Karnak, and Serinda Swan (“Smallville”) as Medusa. The series will debut the first two episodes exclusively in IMAX theaters until it makes its official debut on ABC later in September. “Anson loves the challenge of playing a character who will only communicate silently,” said Jeph Loeb, Head of Marvel Television. “His enthusiasm mixed with his imposing, almost regal persona made it easy to see why he is our Black Bolt.”
What's your favorite Black Bolt factoid? Give us a shout in the comments!
“Marvel’s Inhumans” premieres September 1st.