Editor Alanna Smith interviews the writer about Quicksilver: No Surrender!

On May 16, writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Eric Nguyen team up for a psychedelic sprint alongside Pietro Maximoff in QUICKSILVER: NO SURRENDER #1!

Quicksilver’s super-speed and abrasive personality have always isolated him, but he’s never been truly alone…until now. Spinning out of the pages of AVENGERS: NO SURRENDER, Pietro finds himself trapped beyond the perception of friends, family and allies, waging a one-man guerrilla war against a monster that he’s not even sure is real in order to save a world that he may never be a part of again.

To prepare for this new adventure, we called upon series editor Alanna Smith to join Saladin for a deep dive into their shared love for Marvel’s greatest speedster.

Alanna Smith: In the first phone call we had about this project, I remember you asking me what I liked so much about Quicksilver. Now that we’re further along, I’d be curious to hear your answer to that question—what do you like so much about Quicksilver?

Saladin Ahmed: I think the things I’ve come to love about Pietro in writing him are sort of flip sides to the things that readers have long hated about him. I’ve come to see his standoffishness as a powerful story about living out of pace with other people. I’ve come to see his arrogance as a sort of dry old-world skepticism toward American super hero pluck.

Alanna: Coming off a book with a more straight-laced character like Black Bolt, is a bit liberating to be writing someone who’s, uh…kind of a tool?

Saladin: Well, a big part of BLACK BOLT was his coming to terms with what a tool he’s been! Pietro has a rep as one of the Marvel Universe’s hero-jerks, but honestly most Marvel heroes have deeply jerky sides. What is immensely fun after BLACK BOLT is writing an iconic character who likes the sound of his own voice.

Alanna: When we were still brainstorming, you called me up to say that the more you thought about Quicksilver’s impatience with the world and other people, it felt more like anxiety than anything else (which made me think, “Dang, guess I picked the right writer!”). How has that realization played into the story you’re telling here?

Saladin: Many of us who’ve suffered from serious, weapons-grade anxiety or manic episodes know this set of familiar physical & mental symptoms—racing heartbeat, sleeplessness, racing thoughts. Fury at everything moving so slowly around you. Having to stand in line or sit to get your hair cut can fill you with this surging terror but also this absolute rage at the tiniest inconvenience. Peter David touched on a version of this 25 years ago in a incredible bit where Pietro’s being analyzed by Doc Sampson. But where David saw super-speed breeding a contempt for other people in Pietro, I see it as having bred a fear of them.

Alanna: One of the things I love about Quicksilver is that his temperament really isn’t suited to being a super hero, but he does it anyway. Have you formed any theories about why that is?

Saladin: Well, one thing I hope to show in this series is that Pietro’s temperament might not be quite what we think it is. Pietro will spend a lot of time alone in this book and we’ll get deeper into his head than we’ve been in decades. What readers will find is not a cruel man. They’ll meet a man who literally rescued a kitten from other boys when he was a kid, but was then made hard by life.

Alanna: And most importantly—how do you think his hair does that thing? Does he sculpt those antenna bits with gel or is it some secondary super power? How?

Saladin: Gel. Lots of gel.

Read QUICKSILVER: NO SURRENDER, by Saladin Ahmed and Eric Nguyen, on May 16!

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Saladin Ahmed and Javier Rodriguez add the Asgardian to the team!

This spring, the man once known as Nick Fury—now called the Unseen—enlists a new super group to protect the universe from an all-encompassing threat. Summoning Blink, Iron Lad, Wolvie, and Khan to face down the oncoming storm, the Unseen drafts one final member…Valkyrie!

On April 11, writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Javier Rodriguez present an alternate future on the brink of destruction in EXILES! Featuring a unique and powerful lineup, the addition of an all-new Valkyrie takes this series to new heights.

“Valkyrie’s a character who’s always appealed to me. Her iconic warrior-woman look—spear! sword! flying horse!—but also the juxtaposition of a kickass ancient fantasy hero operating in contemporary New York City. She’s a classic Marvel heroine,” explains Ahmed. “But the EXILES version of Valkyrie is a bit different from what we’ve seen in comics thus far. Our Valkyrie is known as the Lone Defender of Asgard, and she’s a tankard-draining, maiden-wooing, giant-slaying thunderbolt of a woman. Though she’s not technically from the Marvel Cinematic Universe reality, she’s basically the literalization of the larger-than-her-physical-frame swagger that Tessa Thompson displayed in ‘Thor: Ragnarok,’ turned up to 11.”

Join the squad in EXILES #1, by writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Javier Rodriguez, on April 11!

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Saladin Ahmed and Javier Rodriguez introduce a new lineup for a beloved team!

Few matters can force a super hero into exile. And even fewer can cause that hero to return.

But when a mysterious threat puts an alternate future in jeopardy, the teleporting X-Man named Blink—who once fought alongside a classic collection of outcasts, mutants, and strangers—joins a new group in an attempt to save the multiverse. This April, writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Javier Rodriguez leap into the future with EXILES!

In this brand-new ongoing series, the man once called Nick Fury—now known simply as the Unseen—observes Earth from his abode on the moon. When a strange force imperils all of existence, the Unseen recruits Blink, Khan, Iron Lad, Wolvie, and an as-yet-unseen hero to save the past, the present, and the future.

“EXILES is a two-fisted, big-hearted wild ride of a book about a diverse team of alternate universe Marvel heroes banding together to stop a dire threat to the multiverse. Sort of WHAT IF? meets classic X-Men,” teases Ahmed. “Grizzled old Kamala Khan! Disgustingly cute cartoon Wolverine! It’s a dream of a book to be working on for a Marvel fanboy such as myself, full of deep-cut guest stars and mind-blowing easter eggs. But it’s also new-reader friendly—a self-contained story of a group of misfits coming together, learning to trust each other, and, if they’re lucky, saving the !@$# universe.”

This April, writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Javier Rodriguez put the multiverse up for grabs in EXILES!

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Saladin Ahmed comments on the Inhuman monarch’s return to the throne!

The Midnight King has long ruled the Inhumans; on December 6, in the pages of BLACK BOLT #8, however, he returns to Earth, no longer a monarch in position or in self-perception. For the Inhumans left behind, he might even be viewed as a kind of absentee ruler, a man who abandoned them at a time of their greatest need.

Writer Saladin Ahmed took a break from packing up a crown and scepter to discuss the stages of Black Bolt’s rule, writing a once again voiceless protagonist, and Christian Ward’s amazing art.

Marvel.com: With Black Bolt once again voiceless, I am wondering how you and artist Christian Ward have been adapting to losing this one avenue of communication? Have you two discussed it and made a singular plan? How has it been to deal with a wordless character again?

Saladin Ahmed: We haven’t talked about it a lot so we don’t have any particular strategy for us to approach it collaboratively.

For me, from a writerly point of view, there have been a couple of points in the book where Black Bolt has had his voice and those points where he could actually speak I tend to recede the captions. Now that we are back to voiceless Black Bolt—not only one who’s restricting his speaking but physically has lost his super powered voice; something happened in that confrontation with the Jailer which we don’t quite know yet but we will be finding out more about—he really doesn’t have a voice. I’ve been leaning back on the third person captions that are sort of inside his head trying to capture the voice that I think he thinks to himself with.

Also, he’s been accompanied by Blinky. She’s—especially when he first gets back to Earth—is going to be stepping in to kind of explain to others what they’ve been through. She acts, to a degree, as his voice. In a way, similar to what Medusa did, but in a very different way; this is someone who is more like an adopted kid than a consort and she has actually psychic powers. One of the things she’s discovering is how to cultivate empathy and establish a bridge between two people and she’ll certainly be doing that in service of Black Bolt, the character, but BLACK BOLT the book as well. She’s kind of a cheat and I’m well aware of that, but you always have to find these work arounds.

Marvel.com: Obviously Christian, in handling the look of an alien prison world had some fantastic visuals to deal in and we have spoken previously about how incredible the colors have been as well. Returning to Earth, even the Earth of the Marvel Universe, would seem to be a shift towards a more mundane setting. In terms of that, how have you two discussed portraying Earth in a way that feels real but plays to his strengths and how has Christian been meeting this new challenge.

Saladin Ahmed: I’ve just been really impressed with how he has handled this transition. Again, there was no particular strategizing between us. We talk a bit, I hand him the scripts, we do talk about how the tone is shifting and therefore his color palette is shifting, but it’s not mundane. It’s astonishing.

He brings all this attention to detail and sense of panel composition, this just absolutely blazing color to the Bronx, to New Attilan on Earth, and to some familiar characters that Black Bolt will be crossing paths with as well.

I think people are only going to more impressed with the range of Christian’s art. He does [the] space thing and the psychedelic thing and the bizarre thing so well that there’s a threat of him being typecast as an artist. What people are really going to see in this second arc is that he can do a grounded Earthly super hero book just beautifully. Some of the facial expressions on the characters in this book I’m just thrilled by.

Marvel.com: What is your feeling, your interpretation, your perception of Black Bolt as King at baseline. That is, his role as status quo king during most of his existence up until the past few years of aggression and his recent absence?

Saladin Ahmed: I think he was pretty confident. I don’t think he did a lot of questioning of himself. He was an inheritor of traditions.

Of course, we aren’t just talking about a character but also how a character has been written. And a lot of writers recently like [Christopher] Priest and his [current limited series INHUMANS: THE ONCE AND FUTURE KINGS], have taken on what Black Bolt might have been thinking then because we never really got that back in the day from [Stan] Lee and [Jack] Kirby. But I think even with that kind of revisionist take on his early history, I don’t think he had any doubt he was supposed to be a monarch. I don’t think he was used to questioning himself or the kind of traditions he came from.

I think recent years have shaken that up for him though.

Marvel.com: In terms of how the Inhumans perceived him during that early period of rule, how did they feel about him, how did they experience him?

Saladin Ahmed: Pretty idyllic. He presided over a long period—now this isn’t bringing up things like the Alpha Primitives—but [for] most of Inhumans society he presided over a long period of peace and being hidden from the outside world. So I think generally his people had a sort of old school respect and awe and love but not a fuzzy soft kind of love. A kind of feudal love for him.

It is hard to know, though, is that just what Black Bolt thought people felt or if that’s what people thought. I think with any [king] that’s beloved, if you dig a little bit there are a lot of people that are not happy with him.

Black Bolt #8 cover by Christian Ward

Marvel.com: Recently, Black Bolt took a turn towards being a much more aggressive ruler with spreading the Terrigen Mist and taking on mutantkind and attacking Atlantis, and so on. How did his attitude towards himself change, in your opinion, and how did the people’s?

Saladin Ahmed: I think rather than see himself as the king of a secluded people, he began to want to carve out a place for his people in the larger world and was aggressively pre-empting how, for instance, humanity has dealt with mutants in history. I think Black Bolt was planning to put his people in a position of strength. Probably relentlessly, without much of an eye towards the consequences of that to others or his own people; [he] pursued that agenda for the past couple years.

I think that kind of—I don’t want to say imperial—but that aggressive expansionism of Inhumanity is a lot of what he is wrangling with now; how that backfired on him and his people.

Marvel.com: He certainly experienced many doubts in the prison and possible growth and change about what his role should be, but his people were unaware of that; they only perceived him as disappearing. How do those who didn’t go to space and were in the dark about Black Bolt’s imprisonment feel about what seemed like his unexplained, unreported absence?

Saladin Ahmed: This is a lot of what we are going to be contending with in the second arc, but they felt abandoned, basically. People don’t know what situation he was in, but to their mind they had this incredibly powerful ceremonial leader—even if he was not their actual acting king and a kind of progenitor—for the new Inhumans, Black Bolt brought many of them into being by releasing the Mist. Then HYDRA came after them and the Royal Family—including Black Bolt—was nowhere to be found.

There’s a lot of resentment towards that and Black Bolt is going to come face-to-face with that very soon. Like the moment he lands on Earth.

Marvel.com: What does he hope for himself in returning to the throne? Does he have a plan or a fantasy of being a new kind of king than he’s been before?

Saladin Ahmed: I think what Black Bolt—he went through a lot. In super hero comics, we often see heroes go through astonishing traumatic things and then bounce back. That’s not what’s going to happen for Black Bolt.

So rather than returning as the kind of scheming key player in events, he’s going to be coming home licking his wounds and trying to tie up loose ends of a very personal nature.

I don’t necessarily know that he is thinking of himself as a king upon his return. So considering what kind of king he will be is kind of beyond his thoughts.

Marvel.com: Emotionally speaking, when he finds out what happened when he was gone, can you give us an idea what his reaction is and what we’ll get to see of that reaction?

Saladin Ahmed: He comes back and find out and is consumed both by guilt and a sense of impotence.

What could he have done? It’s not like he chose to leave his people behind. But rather than become defensive, he’s pretty miserable.

The question for BLACK BOLT is when you are damaged and have really pressing immediate responsibilities—he has a kid in tow—how do you do your part to help fix the world?

I think that’s the question a lot of us who want to make things better have to ask ourselves.

Marvel.com: As you enter this second stage of BLACK BOLT, what has you excited, what has you anxious, what is challenging?

Saladin Ahmed: Oh, it is intensely challenging because, for one, the timeline is just tighter. You can do a lot of building for the first arc of the book because it hasn’t come out, you can do a lot more prep. Once the train is moving, you are working at a different pace. That’s been quite intense. There’s a little bit of anxiety around that.

What has been delightful has been just to bring this character back to the mainstream Marvel world. This is still going to be a book that will be off in its own corner to a degree but the first arc was very much, intentionally, isolated and self-contained. While this won’t tie heavily into Marvel continuity, with a big “C,” it has been really fun to bring this character back to Earth to interact with people from the [Inhumans’] world, from the larger Marvel Universe. Just getting to mess with that in the same way I got to mess with him individually in the first arc.

See what Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward have planned for The Midnight King in BLACK BOLT #8, headed your way December 6!

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Writer Saladin Ahmed charts the King’s return to planet Earth!

Blackagar Boltagon has changed. And his home has changed too.

The King sails across the galaxy to return to a planet unlike anything he’s known before. On November 1, writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Frazer Irving present a most unusual homecoming in BLACK BOLT #7!

We snagged Saladin to discuss the voyage—and what Black Bolt will bring with him back to Earth.

Marvel.com: Black Bolt returns to Earth in BLACK BOLT #7how different do we find him now compared to when he departed the planet before issue #1?

Saladin Ahmed: He’s quite different.

Part of that has been what we’ve done with the series as a whole—as we never knew much about the Black Bolt that left Earth. So I’ve spent this first arc trying to get inside of who he might’ve been before.

Over the course of his imprisonment, though, he has sort of become someone else. He views his place in the world differently and most of this second arc will be about what happens when you change, come back home, and have to deal with all the things still there.

Marvel.com: Rumor has it he might not be coming back alone. What can you tell us about his travel companions?

Saladin Ahmed: Black Bolt returns with the alien psychic child Blinky. She became one of his companions in the prison and doesn’t really have anywhere to go. As we’ll see, Black Bolt tries to be a father figure again after he failed pretty miserably with his own kid.

Marvel.com: From Blinky’s perspective, what does this trip represent? What does it feel like for her?

Saladin Ahmed: Blinky had an extremely hard childhood—which we’ll get some glimpses of—and she spent time in a torture prison. So even given all the consequences and old faces Black Bolt will encounter with her by his side, I think she seems mostly wide-eyed in wonderment. She has an interest in Earth and she will have a whole new world of experiences.

I try not to write Blinky as horrendously naïve, but she is a kid. And despite a lot of the hard things that have happened to her, she tries to see what might be cool and interesting around her. And she’ll continue to do that. She’ll provide some lighter moments to the story.

Marvel.com: Black Bolt has changed, but Earth has as well. How different is the planet he returns to?

Saladin Ahmed: He spent a lot of time in prison—not all of this on-screen—but to my mind he spent a lot of time thinking about mistakes he made as a leader—the consequences of the Terrigen Mist, for instance. He comes back ready to deal with that only to find that the Inhumans faced another near-extinction event from Hydra.

This will be even more baggage for him to deal with. Very swiftly upon returning to Earth, he’ll have a reckoning with a new generation of Inhumans.

Marvel.com: The trip back to Earth promises to present its own challenges—what struggles will Black Bolt encounter along the way?

Saladin Ahmed: Well, issue #7 acts as an interval issue between the two arcs, guest drawn by Frazer Irving. An ethereal space issue. A journey.

I don’t want to give too much away, but threats emerge from the fact that Black Bolt and Blinky leave in a damaged state. Black Bolt’s power has been reduced significantly and he’s lost his voice. Lockjaw remains injured. Blinky continues trying to shake this stuff off.

They will have a passenger with them. They try to fix the situation in the prison and it seems most of the inmates escaped, but one inmate they encountered a few issues ago—Monsteroso—essentially needs a ride home. So they try to tie up some loose ends there, though they feel beleaguered at each turn.

Marvel.com: You mentioned Frazer Irving coming on as a guest artist for this one. How did you like working with him?

Saladin Ahmed: It’s interesting—Christian Ward and I have a pretty intimate bond that we’ve developed over these few issues. But really, with Frazer, I wanted to stay pretty hands-off and maybe a little looser in my scripting, just to see what he’d do.

He has a very alien style. Christian’s art has a psychedelic and cosmic feel, but Frazer’s feels more like hard science fiction in a way. It really lends itself to this story. He drew the ship that they travel on in this gorgeous way.

It felt really cool to not boss him around too much.

Marvel.com: As you mentioned, this acts as a sort of transition issue. For readers that heard the buzz and were waiting for a good moment to jump on, why does issue #7 serve as the right moment?

Saladin Ahmed: Oh, because while we certainly follow threads from the first arc, we telling a self-contained story in the second arc. BLACK BOLT #7 will be really a good place to meet the characters before we plunge into the action.

Saladin Ahmed and artist Frazer Irving’s BLACK BOLT #7 crash lands on November 1!

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Saladin Ahmed prepares to spring the king of the Inhumans from jail!

The new BLACK BOLT series has found the king of the Inhumans mysteriously behind bars, in a place known only as “The Prison.” How and why he ended up there might remain unknown for now, but you can bet Black Bolt won’t remain for long if he has anything to say about it—and thanks to this bizarre jail’s machinations, he can speak!

We caught up with the current “warden” of BLACK BOLT, writer Saladin Ahmed, to ask about the series, specifically issue #3—coming July 5—which features the inmates’ attempted jailbreak!

Marvel.com: At this point we’ve seen the first twos of Black Bolt, and it has set up an intriguing story. What was your motivation for throwing the king of the Inhumans into the slammer, so to speak?

Saladin Ahmed: Well, Black Bolt being sidelined from the rest of the royal family made sense for all sorts of plot and continuity reasons. But ultimately this story is about the very idea of incarceration—what is its purpose? Who does it happen to? Which crimes get punished? What does it do to people? So I suppose one of my motivations was forcing one of Marvel’s most powerful characters, a king unused to having his choices questioned—let alone labeled “crimes”!—to confront these questions in a very personal way.

Marvel.com: Can you reveal any more details about this mysterious prison where he’s incarcerated?

Saladin Ahmed: Without giving too much away: The place known only as The Prison is not what it seems. It shifts and changes, seemingly at random. It holds powerful criminals stripped of their powers. Black Bolt learned of this place in old Inhuman records known only to the king and queen. It should be a secret of his people, yet there are others here. The secrets of The Prison will be revealed over the next few issues, so all I can say is: keep reading!

Black Bolt #3 cover by Christian Ward

Marvel.com: Issue #3 promises something that readers were no doubt hoping to see: a prison break! How does Black Bolt approach the breakout?

Saladin Ahmed: As it happens, Black Bolt is reminded rather quickly that this ain’t New Attilan and that he is not a king. As “new meat” he finds himself swept up in the jailbreak, rather than masterminding it, and as a ruler he does not like that. But he needs his fellow inmates and, for reasons that will be revealed, they need him as well. And working together is their only hope.

Marvel.com: Is there anyone in this prison that he can trust to help him break out? Which inmates will play a part?

Saladin Ahmed: As I say, he will need help. As a book, BLACK BOLT is absolutely centered on its titular hero. But there is a small cast of characters that coheres around Black Bolt as a sort of ensemble. We’ve already encountered Crusher Creel, The Absorbing Man, who I really think of as the co-star of this storyline. There’s also the alien child Blinky, the aged ex-conqueror The Metal Master, and the Skrull pirate woman Raava. Each of them will have a role to play not only in the breakout, but in the book overall.

Marvel.com: Christian Ward’s artwork really captures the mood of this otherworldly prison. What’s it been like working with him?

Saladin Ahmed: It’s been a dream. Christian is not only one of the most talented artists working in comics today, he’s a joy to work with. He puts real toil and thought into every panel and every layout. My writing on this book juggles a lot of moods and aesthetics—from Kafka to “Saw,” from Kirby dots to Victorian prison houses. It’s a pretty hard range to capture visually, but Christian has not only conveyed the story I’m trying to tell, he’s improved on it. Also, the guy does his own colors!

Make a break for it on July 5 with BLACK BOLT #3 by Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward!

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Saladin Ahmed forecasts the fate of the former Inhuman King!

The king is jailed, long live the king!

Blackagar Boltagon, King of the Inhumans, receives his own solo series, BLACK BOLT, beginning May 3, but he won’t spend it sitting on a throne in Attilan. No, the famously reticent ruler finds himself alone and behind bars, forced to ally himself with characters like Crusher Creel to escape and get some answers as to who put him in this situation.

Before the ongoing series drops, we spoke with its writer, the Hugo Award-nominated, Locust Award-winning Saladin Ahmed, author of “Throne of the Crescent Moon,” about bringing Black Bolt to a wider audience in his debut comics gig, Marvel’s influence on his writing career, the upcoming “Marvel’s Inhumans” TV show, and what it was like to take iconic royalty down a peg.

Marvel.com: So what’s it like taking on your first Marvel project, particularly one focusing on such an iconic character like Black Bolt?

Saladin Ahmed: It’s incredible. Marvel Comics are really where I learned to read [Laughs] and I’ve had a reasonably long and pretty decent career as a writer in the past decade or so, but this is my first comics project and it’s sort of coming back to where I started as a reader and even as a writer. As a kid, before I ever wrote prose stories, I drew little comics and those were directly inspired by Marvel so it really feels like coming full circle, sort of coming home in a way, which is just wonderful. And for Black Bolt to be the character, to be kind of coming into the field with, is really kind of wild. I mean I’m sure we’ll talk some about his specifics, but for me, he’s this iconic hero, but not in the way that, say, a Hulk or a Spider-Man is, right? He’s this iconic, sort of mirrored niche favorite and for that, taking on this cult hero who’s been around for decades and is direct Jack Kirby-Stan Lee’s DNA is amazing and it’s exciting to come to him at a time when he’s sort of starting to come out of the shadows as it were, or starting to come to a broader audience, certainly with the TV show and things like that.

Marvel.com: You’re pretty much at home when it comes to writing science fiction and fantasy. What tenets of these genres will we be seeing in this series?

Saladin Ahmed: Yeah, I like to think that I was a good fit and I think that part of the reason Marvel was interested in me for BLACK BOLT in particular was that the Inhumans are this sort of alien race on Earth in a way and so, all the way back to the Stan Lee days, writing about them, they had this sort of science fictional and almost fantasy edge to their kind of style, a little more so than the traditional super hero and I think that Black Bolt is—you know, this is Marvel, it’s a super hero world—but Black Bolt is this king or former king of a hidden empire that has these very antiquated institutions, it’s trying to change and that has this history of space faring as well and its roots as an alien experiment. And so, they’re all these sort of themes from science fiction and fantasy about being a stranger in your own land and about power and difference and then also these elements of world building, thinking about what a different culture is like and thinking about Attilan as a fantasy world in a way, that coexists with Earth and this is the kind of history that Black Bolt comes from. So, definitely, there’s some sort of close fit for me in terms of genre, in terms of stuff that I drew on, stuff that people have said nice things about in my prose work, I’ve tried to bring some of those strengths to the comic.

Marvel.com: In this story, Black Bolt, the king of the Inhumans, finds himself mysteriously imprisoned. Can you talk a little bit about what it was like getting in the head of a character who is essentially stripped of his title and commanding power?

Saladin Ahmed: That’s one of the central themes of the book. I’m a political guy, I’m very interested in power, I’m interested specifically in political power and incarceration and things like that and what they mean in the real world. So, for me, one of the stories I’m interested in telling and talking about these incredibly powerful characters. Black Bolt [is] not only a deposed king, but he is one of the more powerful characters, certainly on Earth and maybe in the Marvel Universe period. And what does it mean to have grown up and lived your whole life with this incredible power? And with Black Bolt, there’s this added complication of him having to keep it in constant check. And then what does it mean to be stripped of that? I’ve said elsewhere, it’s not a book that humiliates Black Bolt, but I think he does get humbled by what happens and starts to look at his place in the world and starts to maybe have some doubts that are healthy for him to have [Laughs]. He’s a kind of arrogant imperious, silent figure and so getting into his head and starting to pick apart some questions he’s asking himself, especially when he gets put into this humbled position, has been really fun.

Marvel.com: Your novel “Throne of the Crescent Moon” is about someone—Doctor Adoulla Makhslood—who, despite wanting a quiet life away from adventure, is thrown into an epic struggle against a sinister force along with a ragtag team of magical individuals. That being said, did the story of that doctor character play an influence on your take on Black Bolt who is teaming up with other inmates like the Absorbing Man, Crusher Creel?

Saladin Ahmed: Yeah. I think there’s a continuity between the characters. I think Adoulla has much more of a sense of humor and kind of class-wise, he’s much more of Crusher’s ilk from where he comes from, but I think the story of the reluctant hero, it’s a hard one to resist and I think there’s a universal sort of appeal to a character who’s not sort of striding into battle with their chin up and superman-like, but is sort of doing the job that no one else is gonna get done and so, gosh, he’s gotta do it. And there’s definitely an element of that to Black Bolt’s story in this book.

Marvel.com: As a prolific writer of poetry, did you incorporate any poetic moments into this comic?

Saladin Ahmed: [Laughs] There’s no outright poetry, but comics are what taught me about beautiful writing. That Stan Lee writing or Jim Starlin’s writing [of Adam Warlock and Dreadstar] and stuff—that kind of cosmic prose, it’s gorgeous and it’s been an influence on me in my novels and my short stories and so coming to comics, definitely, I like to pay attention to the words. I hope that people will find some engaging language, not just story in this book, but one thing I’ve really had to learn as a writer in comics is to just back off because it’s such a visual medium and my inclination as prose writer is to go on and on and when you’re writing comics and you’re working with an artist, especially one as amazing as Christian [Ward], you just start to teach yourself when to shut up [Laughs]. So there’s a poetic edge to the language, but I hope it doesn’t get excessive.

Marvel.com: Will fans be seeing this character in a new light by the end of the series? If so, what aspects of Black Bolt are you hoping to draw our attention to?

Saladin Ahmed: Well, for now, it’s an ongoing so my intention is to stick with this guy for a while and yeah, follow him through some pretty significant changes. Certainly in this first arc, yeah, he’ll be pretty radically changed in a certain sense by the end of the arc, although maybe half of that is just that we’ll have gotten to know him in a way that we haven’t before. He’s a character who people are sort of always reacting against and beholding, but we’ve never really spent much time in his head and I’m aiming to change that. And so, between getting to know him in the first place and then seeing him transform, not only in response to the events that happen in this book, but readers will see some sort of reflection on what’s happened the past few years. It’s gonna be a new reader friendly, clean start book, but there will be some harkening back to some of the big controversies he’s been involved in in the past couple of years and he’s gonna have to wrangle with some of that, some consequences to some of that personally so he’ll have gone through quite a lot by, say, the end of the first six issues. I think [readers] will see some interesting transformations and then that’ll only continue as the series goes on.

Marvel.com: How does it feel to be helming this solo series with all the hype around the “Marvel’s Inhumans” TV show coming out this fall?

Saladin Ahmed: It’s wild because I actually didn’t know about the TV show until it was announced. To a certain degree, TV and comics are pretty separate things at Marvel so it’s not gonna have a lot of influence on what I do, but it’s really exciting to kind of be helming this character at a time when people will know who he is, more and more people will know who he is. I’ve talked a little bit with Anson Mount who is gonna be playing Black Bolt in the fall and I think he seems to really get the character so I’m rooting for the show, but it won’t have a lot to do with what I do.

Marvel.com: You said you spoke with the actor who will be playing him. Was that when you were writing the comic?

Saladin Ahmed: No no no no. Not in any kind of consultation, just a Twitter chatting—good luck, good luck kind of thing.

Marvel.com: What was your favorite part about writing this series and are there any other Marvel characters you’d like to pursue in the future?

Saladin Ahmed: My favorite part…wow, that’s hard. I think collaboration has been my favorite part. This is my first comics gig and working with a great editor, Will Moss, and just an astonishing artist, Christian Ward. We go back and forth constantly at all hours with little DM’s and stuff like that. It’s been this wonderful, invigorating thing to work with such a talented artist so I’d have to say that’s probably the kind of biggest meta thing. In terms of the story itself, I think, just again, bringing this character who I think deserves a wider audience, maybe a bit more into the spotlight felt like a real honor. And where I wanna go from here, well, again, the book is an ongoing and while Crusher is sort of a featured guest star in this first arc, he certainly won’t be the only one so hopefully, we’ll get to see the characters that I wanna write in the pages of BLACK BOLT, if not beyond. Certainly I have other projects that are possibilities and we’ll just see where those go.

Hear the cry of BLACK BOLT when Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward make their voices heard on May 3!

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The silent king of the Inhumans gets loud with a new ongoing series!

How can you not love Black Bolt? A king with a power so huge he has to almost constantly hold it back; a power that forces him to stay silent and keeps him always a little shrouded in mystery.

If you love the one-time ruler of the Inhumans like we do, you’re in luck, because he will shortly have his own series: BLACK BOLT beginning in May of 2017. We caught up with writer Saladin Ahmed—who will team with artist Christian Ward—to give us some insight into his process of chronicling this intriguing character.

Marvel.com: You have an impressive resume as a writer of fiction and poetry. This is your first time transitioning into comics. Can you tell us a little about that experience? Any differences or similarities?

Saladin Ahmed: I’ve definitely enjoyed the collaboration aspect. Writing a novel involves you, sitting in a room, alone for years, just kind of pounding away, word after word after word. But this feels very different. Comics owe at least as much to the art as the writing, and there has been this back and froth that I’ve really enjoyed. It has inspired me. Also, I’ve found it harder to get stuck when writing comics than it is when writing a novel, because you’ve got artists and editors helping to keep things rolling. And the editor has a very different role. When I write a novel, my editor will look over my stuff, but it’s very much my world that I’ve created. In comics, I’m dealing with the whole Marvel Universe, which includes a lot of moving parts, and my editor, Wil Moss, really helps with that. I’ve enjoyed working with him.

Marvel.com: You write largely fantasy and science-fiction. So your writing seems like a natural fit for a story about the king of the Inhumans. How has that background played into your writing process with this book?

Saladin Ahmed: My training as a fantasy and sci-fi writer really began with Marvel Comics. Reading Marvel stuff when I was six, seven, eight years old, trained me as a writer, even before I read the novels that later became influences for me. Everyone from Jack Kirby and Stan Lee onward, I see as my bread and butter. I’ve found it really interesting to come back to that, in terms of style. My approach to fantasy and science-fiction has a lot of different influences, but a lot of the archetypes that I work with, and a lot of the attention to language, go back to Marvel comics. So now, I get to complete the circle.

Marvel.com: Black Bolt has so much power that he has to hold himself back. So he has an interesting internal conflict. What has it been like writing him?

Saladin Ahmed: I see him as a terrifying challenge for a writer, and a dream for a writer at the same time. Because we don’t hear him speak very much, for the most part, we see him as kind of a blank slate, whom the other characters sort of react to and speak for. And he has this lineage as the strong, silent type. I’ve had fun using those archetypes and stylistic devices, and then bringing it home, so to speak.

Black Bolt by Christian Ward

Black Bolt by Christian Ward

I won’t give away too much, but one of the major points in the plot involves his power being linked to his speech. And you’ll see the character subjected to things he hasn’t experienced before, in terms of exploring what his powers—and holding them back—mean for him. Also, this is a solo Black Bolt book, although we traditionally see him as part of a team. A lot of his portrayal as a character has involved the ways in which he gets bounced off of the characters around him. So I’ve had fun playing with that in a solo book.

Marvel.com: The Inhumans have enjoyed a bit of a surge lately, with their conflict with the mutants in IvX, Ulysses’ role in Civil War II, and their prominent role on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and the upcoming ABC “Marvel’s Inhumans” series. Why do you think audiences find these characters so compelling?

Saladin Ahmed: First, I’ll say that it felt like a wonderful and intense bombshell to suddenly see that the Inhumans will get their own show. I’ve been thinking about Black Bolt very intensely for a while now. I consider him a fan favorite for Marvel nerds, but the general public may not know him as well as they know, say Hulk or Wolverine. And then this announcement goes out, and I see Black Bolt’s face everywhere!

And as far as the Inhumans, I find them compelling because—although this has shifted recently—traditionally, we’ve seen them as a hidden people, and a kind of parallel people. With the X-Men, I consider it integral to their story that they come up in human families and exist within human society. Whereas with the Inhumans, classically—though they’ve seen some changes in the last few years—they have their own society, and Black Bolt serves as the king of these hidden people. Yet, they have very human personalities and dynamics, so they serve as kind of a mirror image of human society, and I think people find that interesting.

Marvel.com: What characters would you like to see Black Bolt interact with in the book?

Saladin Ahmed: I’ve always loved Crusher Creel, the Absorbing Man. And I had the chance to put him into this book, as sort of a protagonist. You’ll see an element of a buddy movie between Crusher and Black Bolt, which I don’t think most people would expect, and I’ve had a lot of fun with that.

BLACK BOLT starts with a scream May 2017 from Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward!

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