Marvel's Black Bolt Actually Made the Absorbing Man Matter

Now, superhero comics are no strangers to death and revivals. There are few characters in Marvel or DC that haven't been killed and later brought back to life. Creel himself was evidently killed by the Sentry during Civil War, only to turn up again with zero explanation. What makes his death work here is that it comes from quite literally fighting the system that's been putting him in jail since he was a kid. The Jailer's ability to kill prisoners endlessly and revive them on a whim has put him in a new mental prison. There, he was forced to confront his life and things he truly regrets, such as punching an old lady and breaking her nose. Both Creel and Bolt find common ground in being overwhelmed with different burdens, with Creel describing his old enforcer days as "drivin' on ice and your brakes lock up."

The rest of Black Bolt #9 focuses on Black Bolt and Blinky doing what they can with Titania to honor Creel's memory. This involves drinking at his favorite bar--except for Blinky, who's a minor and instead has ice cream--and putting his trademark ball and chain in his empty coffin at his funeral. In the middle of the service, two surprising visitors show up to pay their respects. Captain America, still seeking redemption after the events of Secret Empire, and the Odinson himself, both of them moved to hear that the villain died saving a child. As Titania reveals to Cap, her late husband secretly admired the supersoldier and would be honored to have a hero of his pedigree speak at her funeral. As for Odinson, well, he admits that he's had his dark moments like Crusher, and that his old foe's end was truly noble.

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Of all the deaths to happen around Black Bolt, this is sure to be the most impactful. He contributed to Creel's death at the criminal's behest, sure, but this is also likely the first and only friend that Black Bolt has made who wasn't already in the Inhumans inner circle. In his own, vulgar way, Creel was more of a brother to Black Bolt than Maxiums has been, and the former King is sure to take his friends' words about forgiveness to heart when he sees Medusa again. Black Bolt may be without his powers and in the worst mental state of his life, but his time with a former criminal may ultimately give him strength he needs to move forward.

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