Uncanny Inhumans #0: Black Bolt. How powerful is he?

How powerful is Black Bolt really?

I was just reading the new Uncanny Inhumans #0 and noticed something pretty interesting.  Black Bolt is searching for his son and comes across a fortified castle inhabited by Kang the Conqueror.  Kang’s battlement defenses are composed of archers, artillery-men and soldiers from different eras.  All of them raining down hell on Black Bolt who is semi-casually flying through the hail of bullets, bombs and arrows.

black bolt flying

Then, he speaks.

black bolt speaks

Goodbye

This is all he needs to say.  In barely above a whisper, the sound emerges from just behind his epiglottis.  Barely audible and practically imperceptible, this sound is enough to destroy the battlements completely.

He reaches the door to Kang’s hall and speaks again. This time barely above a whisper he says, “Open”.  The focused blast hits the door, but inexplicably, the door is not shattered.  Instead, through whatever time distortion defenses Kang has going on in that weird castle of his, the energy of the blast is redirected through time, back to 1908, thus creating the Tunguska Event in Siberia.

black bolt speaks again

black bolt tunguska

Black Bolt inadvertently causes the Tunguska Event

This panel is interesting because it gives us a real world link to how strong Black Bolt’s powers really are.

Now a lot of this is mostly conjecture, hypothesis and estimation (especially surrounding the Tunguska Event itself), I’m not a physicist by any means and it’s just a comic book subject to the whimsy of whoever the lead writer is at the time, so let’s have some fun with it.

Here we go:

From Nasa.gov, the Tunguska event is described as so:

 “The massive explosion packed a wallop. The resulting seismic shockwave registered with sensitive barometers as far away as England. Dense clouds formed over the region at high altitudes which reflected sunlight from beyond the horizon. Night skies glowed, and reports came in that people who lived as far away as Asia could read newspapers outdoors as late as midnight. Locally, hundreds of reindeer, the livelihood of local herders, were killed, but there was no direct evidence that any person perished in the blast.”

From Wikipedia:

“Estimates of the energy of the blast range from as low as three to as high as 30 megatons of TNT (between 13 and 130 PJ). Most likely it was between 10 and 15 megatons of TNT (42 and 63 PJ), and if so, the energy of the explosion was about 1,000 times greater than that of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan; roughly equal to that of the United States’ Castle Bravo ground-based thermonuclear test detonation on March 1, 1954; and about two-fifths that of the Soviet Union’s later Tsar Bomba (the largest nuclear weapon ever detonated).”

Source 1, Source 2, Source 3

So this is what we learned:

With a whisper, Black Bolt is able to generate the equivalent to at least 10-15 mega tons of TNT or 42-63 petajoules (PJ) of energy.  In relation, the TSAR BOMBA, the most power nuclear weapon ever detonated, had the yield of 50MT (210PJ).  Since Black Bolt can generate the power of a Tunguska sized event with a whisper, he should be able to, without question, generate the force comparable to the TSAR BOMBA just by speaking in a regular voice.

tsar bomba

Tsar Bomba Explosion

That’s just insane.

What if he sneezes?  Well, there goes Rhode Island!

What’s even crazier is that when Black Bolt speaks or whispers and releases his power, the energy expelled is done so without radiative effects (at least none that I have sufficient evidence for) or heat/fire/flame/etc.  It is released as a blast of pure energy.  Probably very similar to Cyclops’ optic blast.  A “focused” beam of pure concussive force.

According to the Marvel Wiki, Black Bolt’s powers are described as:

“Black Bolt’s primary superhuman ability is the power to harness electrons. The speech center of his brain contains a unique organic mechanism that’s able to generate an unknown particle that interacts with the electrons he absorbs to create certain phenomena that are determined by his mental control….

Quasi-Sonic Scream: Black Bolt’s most devastating offensive weapon, and one of the phenomena based upon the particle interaction, is his actual voice. A whisper can level a city, cause distant dormant volcanoes to become active once more, shake entire continents apart and generate tremors on the far side of the planet. A hypersonic shout has been said to generate enough force to destroy planets. Due to the constant and extreme danger posed by his voice, he has undergone rigorous mental training to prevent himself from uttering even the smallest sound, even while asleep.

Quasi-Sonic Scream

Quasi-Sonic Scream

Recently it has been shown that Black Bolt’s scream is tied into his emotions, especially anger. This in turn would mean that the power of his scream would depend on his emotional state in at least some way. It would explain the somewhat significant difference of the power released by his quasi-sonic scream.”

That last part is really the lynchpin when trying to determine how powerful Black Bolt’s voice is or can be.  It’s a loophole for the writers to determine how his powers will affect his target.  This description can be used for just about any scenario to justify how and why he has not put a hole in the Earth (or Moon) yet.  We will probably never be able to truly quantify how much power he is able to put out in comic book terms, but in real world terms, we can use the estimated force of the Tunguska Event to get at least a foothold and use numbers and scenarios that are easy to conceptualize.

baby black bolt

Baby Bolt

Writer bias aside, that demonstration of power raised the question (at least to me), “If Black Bolt can generate up to 15MT of force with a whisper, HOW STRONG IS THE HULK?”

In World War Hulk, an enraged Hulk returned to Attilan from the destroyed Sakaar to challenge the Illuminati.  He confronted Black Bolt (who was later determined to be a Skrull infiltrator and not as powerful as the the true Black Bolt) and Medusa on the moon and Skrull-Bolt uttered one word.

Hulk vs. Black Bolt

Hulk lands on The Moon

Hulk vs. Black Bolt

Hulk vs. Skrull Black Bolt

Hulk vs. Black Bolt

Hulk vs. Skrull Black Bolt

Hulk vs. Black Bolt

Hulk vs. Skrull Black Bolt

Hulk vs. Black Bolt

Hulk vs. Skrull Black Bolt

Before we end this ridiculousness of Black Bolts voice, let’s go one more step further to the end of World War Hulk and the battle between Hulk and The Sentry.  The Sentry is purported to the power of a million exploding suns and apparently uses it all to stop the Hulk. They battle to a standstill and expend so much energy that they revert back to Bruce Banner and Robert Richards.

Hulk vs. Sentry

Hulk vs. Sentry

Hulk vs. Sentry

Hulk vs. Sentry

Hulk vs. Sentry

Hulk vs. Sentry

Photo Apr 02, 11 35 34 AM

Tony Stark finally ends the fracas by combining the world’s offensive satellites to cross the streams and blast the Hulk into oblivion.

Tony ends Hulks rampage

Tony ends Hulks rampage

Tony ends Hulks rampage

Tony ends Hulks rampage

Tony ends Hulks rampage

Tony ends Hulks rampage

Manhattan, Planet Earth and the Moon should cease to exist at this point.  We should have been reduced to rubble circling a now quieter solar system.  But hey, it’s whatever at this point.

In conclusion, after looking at all this power expended by Black Bolt, the Sentry, the Hulk and Tony Stark, maybe I should retitle this blog entry, “How The Inhumans #0 Broke the Marvel Universe”.

Or maybe I should let it all go and continue to have fun reading these crazy stories.

Because, you know… comics.

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