|First appearance||Fantastic Four #45 (December 1965)|
|Alter ego||Blackagar Boltagon|
|Place of origin||Attilan|
Inhuman Royal Family|
Superhuman physical attributes|
Destructive hypersonic voice
Black Bolt (Blackagar Boltagon) is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the character first appears in Fantastic Four #45 (December 1965). Black Bolt is the ruler of the Inhumans, a reclusive race of genetically altered superhumans. Black Bolt's signature power is his voice, as his electron-harnessing ability is linked to the speech center of his brain. Speaking triggers a massive disturbance in the form of a highly destructive shockwave capable of leveling a city. Due to the extreme danger posed by this power, the character has undergone rigorous mental training to prevent himself from uttering a sound, even in sleep, and he usually remains completely silent and communicates through sign language or via spokesperson.
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Fictional character biography
Black Bolt's first appearance established the character as being a member of the Inhuman ruling class. The title Thor featured a back-up feature called "Tales of the Inhumans", which recounts the character's origin story. The son of two preeminent Inhumans, Black Bolt is exposed to the mutagenic Terrigen Mist while still an embryo, and eventually demonstrates the ability to manipulate electrons. To protect the Inhuman community from his devastating voice, Black Bolt is placed inside a sound-proof chamber and is tutored in the use of his powers. Reentering Inhuman society as a young man — having vowed never to speak — the character is attacked by his younger brother Maximus, who attempts, unsuccessfully, to goad him into speaking.
Black Bolt proved popular, and decides to leave Attilan to explore the outside world. The character reappears in a story focusing on his cousin Medusa, drives off the Hulk after the monster defeats the entire Inhuman Royal Family (Medusa, Gorgon, Karnak, Triton, and Crystal), and with the Fantastic Four battles his brother Maximus and his own group of rogue Inhumans.
After being forced to intercede in the budding romance between his cousin Crystal and the Fantastic Four's Johnny Storm, Black Bolt and the Inhumans feature in the title Amazing Adventures, and battle villains such as the Mandarin and Magneto. A story told in flashback in the title The Avengers reveals how Black Bolt came to be ruler of the Inhumans and Maximus was driven mad. Black Bolt discovered his brother had secretly allied himself with the alien Kree — the race whose genetic experiments first created the Inhumans — and in trying to stop an escaping Kree vessel, he overextended his sonic powers and caused the vessel to crash. Several members of the Council of Genetics — including his parents — were killed by the crash, and Maximus was driven insane by his proximity to Black Bolt's use of his voice. Black Bolt assumes the title of King, but is haunted by the consequences of his actions.
Black Bolt settles a quarrel between Johnny Storm and the mutant Quicksilver for the affections of Crystal, and frees the slave caste of Inhuman society, the Alpha Primitives. Black Bolt and the Royal Family aid the hero Spider-Man against the time-traveling villain Kang the Conqueror, is forced to again battle the Hulk, teams with the Fantastic Four and the Avengers against the threat of the robot Ultron, and again allies with the Fantastic Four against the fifth-dimensional villain Xemu.
Black Bolt and the Inhumans feature in a self-titled bi-monthly series battling threats such as the villain Blastaar and the Kree, who regard the Inhumans as abominations. The character encounters the immortal villain the Sphinx — who has defeated the Fantastic Four and the Royal Family — blasts him over a light-year into deep space, aids Kree hero Captain Marvel in preventing a war between the Kree and Skrulls on Earth, joins with Fantastic Four member the Thing to defeat the mutated villain Graviton, and appears briefly during an announcement that Crystal is pregnant with Quicksilver's child.
Black Bolt revisits his origins when he, members of the Royal Family, and Fantastic Four members Mister Fantastic and the Thing battle the villain Maelstrom. Maelstrom is revealed to be the son of a rival of Black Bolt's father, and -- after his minions are defeated -- attempts to destroy Attilan with a guided missile. Black Bolt, however, manages to defuse the missile and Maelstrom is defeated.
Black Bolt's search for a new site for the city of Attilan (eventually the Himalayas) is detailed in a back-up feature of the alternate universe title What If, is rated with other powerful Marvel characters by Spider-Man in an "out of universe" conversation with the reader and another back-up feature in the title What If? details how Black Bolt worked with the Eternals to move the city of Attilan to the Himalayas. Black Bolt also directed the eventual move of Attilan to the moon when the pollution on Earth became too much for the Inhumans.
The character appears in a graphic novel detailing the eventual death of former ally Mar-Vell due to cancer, humorous parodies of the Marvel Universe in a one-shot publication and the title What If?, and aids superheroine Dazzler against the villain the Absorbing Man.
An alien device abandoned on the moon causes Black Bolt, the Royal Family, and the Fantastic Four to experience nightmares until destroyed by Triton. The character is imprisoned by brother Maximus (who has also swapped their bodies) but later freed by the Royal Family and allies the Avengers, appears in a one-shot title detailing several of Marvel's continuity mistakes, is married to cousin Medusa (after an interruption - a battle between a Kree and Skrull soldier), and appears in a back-up tale in the title Marvel Fanfare.
With the Royal Family, Black Bolt encounters Dazzler once again, appears in flashback in two titles, attempts to subdue an erratic Quicksilver (distraught over his wife's affair), and aids the mutant team X-Factor in defeating Maximus. The Inhumans then assist the Fantastic Four against the villain Diablo, skirmish with a later version of the team during The Evolutionary War, and appear in the second volume of the title What If?
Black Bolt clashes with Attilan's Genetic Council when he conceives a child (Ahura) with Medusa, destroys the alien symbiote that Spider-Man bonds with in another issue of What If?, and with the Royal Family encounters the hero Daredevil.
After another appearance in a back-up feature in the title What If? a story told in flashback reveals how Maximus, using a creation called the Trikon, forced Black Bolt from Attilan. Black Bolt, however, eventually defeats the Trikon and regains the throne. After aiding the teen super group the New Warriors the Royal Family joins forces with X-Factor to stop master villain Apocalypse.
Black Bolt makes a series of brief guest appearances in several titles and his child is threatened by rogue Inhumans. After two more appearances in back-up features in the titles X-Factor and Starblast, Black Bolt appears in several panels in two titles before starring in the one-shot publication Inhumans: The Great Refuge (May 1995), which details the Inhumans' ongoing battle with the Kree.
With the Royal Family, the Fantastic Four, and Doom's heir Kristoff Vernard, Black Bolt thwarts Maximus again and appears with the Fantastic Four during the Onslaught crisis. After appearing in the one-shot title Bug Black Bolt and the Inhumans feature in the Heroes Reborn universe, where they worship the entity Galactus and his Heralds, as gods.
The character encounters the noble savage Ka-Zar and witnesses Quicksilver reunite with Crystal before he and the Royal Family appear in a back-up feature in the Fantastic Four title. Black Bolt and the Inhumans then feature in a self-titled limited series which deals with the "coming of age" of a new group of Inhumans and stopping Maximus, who with both human and Inhuman allies attempts to subvert his brother's rule. After an appearance in the final issue of a Quicksilver limited series Black Bolt and the Inhumans team with Canadian superteam Alpha Flight.
The character is featured — again with the Royal Family — in a third self-titled limited series that has major developments for the Inhumans. Ronan the Accuser leads the Kree in a surprise attack, capturing Attilan and forcing the Royal Family into service against Kree enemies the Shi'ar. Karnak, Gorgon, and Triton covertly join the Shi'ar Imperial Guard while Black Bolt and Medusa must attempt the assassination of the Shi'ar ruler Lilandra at a ceremony ratifying an alliance between the Shi'ar and the Spartoi. Although the attempt fails and Black Bolt manages to defeat Ronan in personal combat, the Inhuman people choose to leave with the Kree and pursue a new future. This leaves Black Bolt and the Royal Family alone to fend for themselves.
Interdimensional adventurers the Exiles also encounter an alternate universe version of Black Bolt. Black Bolt decides to attempt reintegration with Earth, and several younger Inhumans — recently exposed to the Terrigen Mists — explore Earth with mixed results, including at one stage the intervention of the Fantastic Four. The Inhumans resettle in the Blue Area of the Moon and begin to rebuild. The character also appears briefly in the mutant title X-Statix and a one-shot title, Inhumans 2099, speculates on the future of the Inhumans and their role on Earth.
In the title New Avengers, Black Bolt is revealed to be a member of a superhero council called the Illuminati. Via a retcon of Marvel continuity, the group form during the Kree-Skrull War to deal with threats to Earth. During the "Son of M" storyline, the mutant Quicksilver steals a canister of Terrigen crystals from Attilan, with Black Bolt and the rest of the Royal Family attempting to retrieve it.
Black Bolt also rejects the Superhuman Registration Act and refuses to become involved in the ensuing Civil War. Courtesy of the hero Sentry, Black Bolt monitors the situation. In the limited series Silent War, the US military attacks the Inhumans to prevent them from retrieving the crystals. Believing the stolen crystals should be returned to Attilan, Black Bolt issues a warning to the United States concerning further acts of aggression, and eventually launches an offensive against the nation. Gorgon and other Inhumans are captured during the attack, which prompts Black Bolt to personally head a team to rescue his subjects and retrieve the crystals. While the mission is successful, Maximus takes advantage of the situation and overthrows and temporarily incarcerates Black Bolt.
The Illuminati also collect the Infinity Gems, and -- to prevent the abuse of power by the Titan Thanos and others -- split the gems between themselves, vowing that they never be used in unison again. Black Bolt is given the "Reality" gem.
The character apparently suffers a setback when brutally beaten by the Hulk, on a rampage during the "World War Hulk" storyline and seeking revenge on Black Bolt for his role in the Hulk's exile from Earth. During the events of the Secret Invasion limited series it is revealed that this was not in fact Black Bolt, but rather a Skrull, who is killed in battle by members of the Illuminati. The true Black Bolt is captured by the Skrulls, who intended to use his voice as a weapon of mass destruction. The character is rescued when the heroes of Earth defeat the Skrull army and discover the location of their captured teammates.
Black Bolt, angered by the repercussions caused by the Skrull invasion, changes tactics and embarks on an aggressive campaign against all former persecutors of the Inhumans in the War of Kings limited series. At his command, the Inhumans attack the Kree and overthrow Ronan the Accuser, with Black Bolt declaring himself supreme ruler of the Kree Empire. This is followed by a preemptive strike against the Shi'ar empire, now controlled by the usurper Vulcan. Black Bolt intended to release the Terrigen Mist across the galaxy and end the war when, courtesy of the subsequent mutations, all are rendered equal, but the plan was interrupted by Vulcan, the two clashing as the bomb charged up. Although Vulcan was nearly killed by Black Bolt's voice, Black Bolt prepared to abandon his plan when Crystal pointed out that the powers produced by the explosion would only inspire more harm rather than good. However, an enraged Vulcan retained enough strength to stop Black Bolt from teleporting away with Crystal and Lockjaw, which resulted in Black Bolt and Vulcan apparently dying in the subsequent explosion of the Terrigen bomb, as Crystal only negated the Terrigen Mists within the bomb without shutting down its ability to explode.
He in fact survived the explosion. It was revealed that Black Bolt likely represents the anomaly of the Kree Inhuman genetics program that had been predicted hundreds of thousands of years ago. The genetic prophecy was that this anomaly would bring about the end of the Supreme Intelligence. To prevent this outcome, the Kree Supreme Intelligence had ordered the destruction of all the worlds where the genetic experiments took place. Only five colonies escaped, including Earth's: these were the Universal Inhumans. After his return to Attilan, Black Bolt joined the Universal Inhumans and was presented with four new brides, one from each of the other colonies.
They returned to Earth to help defeat the last four Reeds of the Interdimensional Council. They then faced the Kree Armada, who had been ordered by the resurrected Kree Supreme Intelligence to wipe out Earth and the Inhumans. After the Kree fled in defeat, the Inhumans followed in pursuit.
During the Infinity storyline, Black Bolt was visited by Thanos' Black Order in order to demand a tribute, the heads of Inhuman younglings between the ages of sixteen and twenty-two or the annihilation of Earth's inhabitants. Using the Terrigen Codex, Black Bolt discovered Thanos used the tribute demand as a cover for his true mission: to kill his secret Inhuman-descendant son whose identity and location were unknown even by his father. After the Inhumans denied the tribute to Corvus Glaive, Thanos personally visited Black Bolt in Attilan. Finding the Inhuman city empty with only Black Bolt left, Black Bolt unleashed a powerful scream which tore down Attilan itself and activated a Terrigen Bomb which spread the Mists across the Earth. Thanos survived the attack and found Black Bolt still alive in the rubble. Thanos demanded to know the location of his son. Black Bolt refused and continued attacking Thanos with his voice until an enraged Thanos knocked him out. Black Bolt was held captive for Thanos to use his power to activate the Illuminati's anti-matter bombs to destroy the Earth. When the Illumianti arrived in the Necropolis, they found Thanos' general Supergiant, with Black Bolt under her control as she uses Black Bolt to defeat them. When Supergiant activated the bombs, Maximus appeared with the trigger. He triggered the bombs, but also used Lockjaw to transport the anti-matter bomb along with Supergiant to a distant uninhabited planet where she died in the explosion. Black Bolt was liberated and left the scene along with Maximus and Lockjaw. In the ancient location of Attilan in the Himalayas, Black Bolt hid the Terrigen Codex and made Maximus understand his survival and that of his brother were to be kept a secret. Maximus also deduced that Black Bolt was always going to activate the Terrigen Bomb irrespective of Thanos' arrival which was to herald a new age of the Inhumans. After being examined by Maximus, Black Bolt discovered with his brother that the Terrigen Bomb had greatly diminished Black Bolt's powers. Black Bolt and Maximus agreed to keep this a secret.
Using exogenetically-charged waters, Maximus was able to help Black Bolt recover from the power loss he suffered after the detonation of the Terrigen Bomb.
Powers and abilities
Black Bolt's Terrigen-mutated physique surpasses the superhuman physique of typical Inhumans: his strength, stamina, durability and reflexes are all well above typical Inhuman or human levels. His speed and agility are also highly enhanced. An organic mechanism in his brain's speech center produces an unknown particle that interacts with ambient electrons, enabling him to produce certain mentally-controlled phenomena. The most devastating of the effects is Black Bolt's "quasi-sonic scream". Because his electron-harnessing ability is linked to the speech center of his brain, any attempt to use his vocal cords triggers an uncontrollable disturbance of the particle/electron interaction field. Because of this limitation, Black Bolt must be constantly vigilant of even the softest of utterances lest he destroy anything or anyone in its path. At full strength, his voice has the capability to destroy planets, while a whisper can rock a battleship. When Black Bolt was captured and experimented on by the Skrulls, it was shown that his "Sonic Scream" is triggered by, and at least partially dependent on, his emotional state.
The fork-like antenna worn upon his forehead helps Black Bolt control his powers. He can channel his powers inward to increase his strength and speed, and can focus it through his arms as concussive blasts. Black Bolt is capable of channeling all available energy into one devastating punch called his Master Blow, which renders him extremely vulnerable subsequently. By concentrating his electrons into anti-electrons, he can fly at speeds up to 500 mph for a period of 6 hours, protected by an anti-graviton field. Black Bolt can create a nearly impenetrable force field by focusing his energy around himself, and can use his electron abilities as extrasensory probes, highly sensitive to electromagnetic phenomena, and he can also jam certain electromagnetic mechanisms. Though exhausting, he can create particle/electron interaction fields solid enough to be traversed upon.
Black Bolt also is at least partially resistant against telepathy and shares a semi-telepathic bond with those of his blood (such as the Inhuman royal family and certain others), as was evident when he was able to resist the mental abilities of his telepathically powerful brother, Maximus, and on different occasions, use his own abilities to overpower and take control of Maximus' mind. One of Black Bolt's main uses for his telepathic ability is to communicate his wishes to his wife, Medusa the Queen, who then acts as his mouthpiece to the rest of his subjects. He can also use this limited telepathy to communicate his destination wishes to the royal family's teleporting dog, Lockjaw.
- Black Bolt plays an important role in the What If? story "What If...the Alien Costume Had Possessed Spider-Man?", where Spider-Man is killed by the alien costume he acquired in the Secret Wars. After the costume tries to take control of Thor and the Hulk, the gathered heroes lure it to an abandoned area where Black Bolt uses his voice to attack the suit's weakness to sonic vibrations and drive it to separate from Thor.
- In the 1995 crossover storyline "Age of Apocalypse", Black Bolt and his family were slaughtered by Maximus, and then cloned by Maximus to serve as his personal bodyguard.
- In Amalgam Comics, Vykin the Black Bolt, a combination of DC Comics' Vykin the Black and Marvel's Black Bolt, is a member of the superhero group the Un-People in the Amalgam Comics universe.
- In the 1998 miniseries Mutant X, Black Bolt leads a team of Inhumans and Eternals into battle against the Beyonder and Dracula. He is the last of the army to be killed.
- In the 1996–1997 "Heroes Reborn" storyline, Black Bolt and the Inhumans worship statues of Galactus and his Heralds.
- In the alternate reality seen in the 1999 miniseries Earth X, Black Bolt releases the Terrigen Mist into Earth's atmosphere, granting powers to all humanity. The character later reappears, and leads the deceased heroes in a bid to save humanity.
- In the 2004 Marvel Knights 2099: Inhumans one-shot written by Robert Kirkman, which took place in the future on an alternate world (Earth-2992) that was not identical to the alternate Marvel Universe on Earth-928 featured in the 1990s Marvel 2099 books, the Inhumans leave Earth's moon and are forced to live aboard a spaceship after the Mutant Registration Act is passed. After leaving, Black Bolt places himself and his closest confidants (Triton, Gorgon, Karnak, Crystal and Medusa) in cryogenic stasis and, in his absence, his brother Maximus takes over as leader of the Inhumans living aboard the spacecraft. While in control, Maximus kills Black Bolt's confidants in their sleep. Fifty years later, Black Bolt is released from cryogenic stasis to find that Maximus has killed those closest to him. In retaliation, he breaks his vow of silence and destroys the Inhumans' spacecraft, killing all aboard, though it is hinted that he may have survived.
- In the 2005 "House of M" storyline, Black Bolt and the Inhumans appear as an ally of Black Panther.
- The Ultimate Marvel universe, Black Bolt, leader of the Inhumans, has the same abilities and limitations as his mainstream counterpart, and uses his abilities to destroy Attilan after it is infiltrated by the Ultimate Fantastic Four. The very fact they had breathed Attilan air was enough for Black Bolt to make this decision.
- In the 2006 limited series Marvel Zombies, Black Bolt initially appears as one of the surviving heroes but is eventually zombified. The character reappears in the limited series Marvel Zombies 3, forming an alliance with a zombified Wilson Fisk. He is able to talk due to the fact that his necrosis has nullified his powers. Black Bolt hopes that Machine Man, who is opposing the Kingpin, will be able to kill them all. He desires death but the hunger is too much; he is unable to destroy himself.
- In the 2007 one-shot The Last Fantastic Four Story, Black Bolt and the Inhumans attempt to destroy a being called the Adjudicator, who is intent on conquering Earth.
- In Mark Millar and Steve McNiven's 2008–2009 "Old Man Logan" story arc that appeared in Wolverine, Black Bolt is sent by Emma Frost to intervene between Wolverine and Hawkeye against a Savage Land T-Rex who has bonded with Venom.
- In the 2009 miniseries Marvel Zombies Return, when the remaining zombies from Earth-2149 cross over into Earth Z, the Black Bolt of that dimension is zombified by Giant Man, however he is still able to use his powers.
In other media
- Black Bolt and the other Inhumans appeared in the Fantastic Four episode "Medusa and the Inhumans".
- Black Bolt appeared in the 1994 Fantastic Four animated series.
- KISS bassist Gene Simmons said on an episode of his reality television show Gene Simmons Family Jewels that he is a big comic book fan, and that the bat-like "wings" in his "Demon" persona costume were modeled after those worn by Black Bolt.
- Black Bolt appears in the Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. episode "Inhuman Nature", voiced by Clancy Brown. He is the King of the Inhumans and cannot speak without using his sonic scream, despite having his antenna in this show. Because of this, Medusa speaks for him and his only line being "smash" is what destroys the barrier put up by Maximus.
- Black Bolt appears in the Ultimate Spider-Man episode "Inhumanity", voiced again by Clancy Brown. Maximus had taken control of the royal family and declared war upon humans by using Attilan. Spider-Man and Triton are able to free the Royal family from Maximus' control, but the city was going to crash into New York City. Spider-Man then webs Black Bolt to a radio town where Black Bolt says "Peace" and sends Attilan into the ocean, so it does not damage anything.
- Black Bolt appears as a non-player character in the console game Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (2006). He provides the heroes with a base on Attilan after Doctor Doom acquires the power of Odin and begins to reshape Earth in his own image.
- Black Bolt is available as downloadable content for the game LittleBigPlanet, as part of "Marvel Costume Kit 5".
- Black Bolt is a playable character in the mobile fighting game Marvel Contest of Champions.
- Black Bolt also appears as a playable character in the mobile fighting game Marvel's Mighty Heroes.
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