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‘Black Hammer/Justice League: Hammer of Justice!’ #1 Review: Once upon a time…

If the first issue is any indication, fans are going to be in for something special.

Jeff Lemire and Michael Walsh
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Fans love crossovers. Whether it’s movie properties, professional wrestling, or video games, there is always excitement generated when two franchises from different companies come together. Perhaps nowhere is this more true than with comic books. Fans salivate at the idea of their favorite heroes and villains meeting up with each other. Black Hammer from Dark Horse Comics and Justice League from DC Comics seem perfect for the crossover treatment. Based on Hammer of Justice! #1, the event should be one that satisfies fans.

The Justice League are a team that does not need an introduction. With Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, the group includes some of the most famous superheroes ever created. Black Hammer is not a team, but an entire universe. Literally, Black Hammer is a hero. However, the Black Hammer comic is about a group of heroes who were legends in our world. After a world-saving battle, six heroes were trapped on a farm they were unable to leave. It is a deep comic that deals with many superhero issues while also deconstructing the genre.

As is the case with most debut issues, Hammer of Justice! sets up the story. The Justice League are in Metropolis while the heroes from Black Hammer are trapped on their farm. The DC team are battling Starro while Abraham Slam and the rest of his comrades are arguing. Basically, it is just another day for both teams. Both groups are given what they want in a Twilight Zone like twist seemingly beginning the crossover.

Jeff Lemire handles writing duties and does his usual great job. The opening on the Rockwood farm is great. Readers unfamiliar with the Black Hammer universe will already get an idea of what the characters are like, and more importantly, it’s very engaging. Even someone who did not know what type of story they were reading would want to continue just to see what is going to happen. Lemire does a great job of introducing the entire story.

The reader’s first look at the League is also done well. As would be expected, we find them battling a villain and trying to save the world. Black Hammer uses many great battle scenes and the one in Hammer of Justice! is no exception. Even though the characters are well known even among non-comic book fans, they are still introduced well. Readers are immediately given an idea as to the type of person they are. This is due to Lemire’s writing being on point as well as the team interaction.

The direct analogy to members of both groups done towards the end is the highlight of the issue. Lemire closes the circle and gives readers an idea of what to expect and from who. Thematically, it works well in the Black Hammer universe. It is interesting to see how the heroes react on and off the farm. The one complaint readers may have is how quickly and unexpectedly events occur. In a vacuum that would be a valid point, but this is sure to be examined over the course of the series. It looks like “be careful what you wish for” may be a theme of the story.

The art looks gorgeous. Michael Walsh does an excellent job of giving the book a heroic feel. Black Hammer has always been an examination of superhero comics, and nothing gets more superheroic than the Justice League. Walsh makes all of the heroes look appropriately grand. Starro also looks downright frightening. The issue includes some wonderful looking splash pages and smart panel placement. The book is well written and a treat to look at.

Hammer of Justice! is shaping up to be a great story. There are definitely going to be elements of a superhero story, but it appears as if writer Jeff Lemire will also be going for something more nuanced. Whatever happens over the course of the series, if the first issue is any indication, fans are going to be in for something special.

Black Hammer/Justice League: Hammer of Justice #1
Is it good?
A great first issue that sets up why the crossover is happening and introduces themes that would be interesting to see further explored.
Walsh's art captures the most heroic qualities of the characters
Engaging writing that draws readers in from the very beginning
The potential for a deep and fun superhero story is here
It will probably be explained over the course of the series, but the villain just does their thing anticlimactically.

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