WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Death of the Inhumans #1 by Donny Cates, Ariel Olivetti, Jordie Bellaire and Clayton Cowles, in stores now.
ABC's Inhumans was a failed experiment that disappeared almost as soon as it arrived. Its release was hyped up as Marvel Studios' next big event, one that was said to be an unbelievable experience shot with IMAX cameras. However, the series failed to grasp the attention of the audience that tuned in for the first episodes. The series lost viewers with every subsequent episode, to the point that its cancellation was all but assured by the time its eight and final chapter aired.
But as with all things Marvel, as much as the comics can inspire the big screen movies and television shows, so do the live-action productions inspire the comics in return. We've seen it with the inclusion of Marvel Cinematic Universe-inspired costumes and character traits, or in some cases, the introduction of new characters. And in Death of the Inhumans #1, it appears that the Inhumans show, although a failure, may have managed to inspire the comic's depiction of Black Bolt.
Black Bolt has always been a silent character. The King of the Inhumans' voice is his weapon, something that instantly creates a barrier between him and his people. For that reason, Black Bolt has almost always been depicted as a stoic figure, one who speaks volumes with his body language and calm demeanor. For readers, most of the time the only way to get inside of Black Bolt's head is with the use of prose narration, a storytelling technique used to great effect in Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee's classic Inhumans, or more recently, Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward's recent Black Bolt series.
Televiosn, however, operates differently than comics, and in order the have Black Bolt interact more directly with the rest of the show's cast, the character communicated through sign language. The language was only understood by Medusa, Black Bolt's wife and the Inhumans' queen, leaving her the only one who could translate the King's words and orders to his subjects. While this was something that Black Bolt wasn't known to do in the comics, it's something he uses frequently in Death of the Inhumans #1.
Throughout the first issue, Black Bolt can be seen communicating with others with sign language. Thanks to the issue's subtitles, we can now read the character's dialogue as he interacts with Medusa, Crystal or anyone else. It's a pretty major change for the character, but when weighed against the series' foreboding title, we have to wonder if it's a long term adjustment, or if his days are so numbered, it'll just be remembered as a final bit of growth for the character before he, too, is killed.