Jeff Lemire is no stranger to writing superhero thrillers and on July 30th, Dark Horse is releasing his latest series, Black Hammer. Paired with artist Dean Ormston, Lemire attempts to create a unique comic book mystery in a completely new universe. Is it good?
Black Hammer #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
Spiral City was protected by an elite group of heroes until the day they were whisked away in what Lemire’s calling a “Multiversal Crisis.” Now ten years after that infamous day, our heroes: Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, Colonel Weird, Madame Dragonfly, and Barbalien are living a quiet farm life on their new world. However, after years of being forced to hide their true identities, some of the team members are growing restless within their sedated lifestyle.
This comic, which could be considered a dark comedic mystery, delivers an introspective look at the concept of superheroes and their lives post-heroism. It’s a unique superhero story, refreshingly removed of any Big 2 influences, that still draws upon classic superhero archetypes. The characters originate from a seemingly “Golden Age” era before being zapped into a desolate farming community. Lacking any action, this issue depends solely on Lemire’s ability to establish a background on the characters and set up a foundation for the series going forward. Normally it’s quite difficult to engage readers without any action, especially given that it’s the first issue, but Lemire is able to create a solid introduction to his new series.
The characters are interesting and the storyline feels authentic and interesting despite not really setting up the catalyst of the series or immediate story arc. In some ways it reads like a #0 issue which focuses less on the present and more on establishing plot depth. The characters themselves are diverse in nature and while they exhibit archetypical traits, they’re unlike any Avengers or Justice League. The real magic in the series however is the driving concept of what superheroes are without the ability to employ their heroics and whether it results in despair, relief or possibly villainy?
The art is delivered by Dean Ormston whose work I’ve never come across before, but definitely enjoy. He’s incredibly detail oriented with an emphasis on the shadowing which suits the style of the series. The characters’ emotions are apparent and there’s a noticeable change in art between the present and the characters back in their glory days which produces a nice effect. Between the choices in scenery and the color job by Dave Stewart, the creative team really sets the tone for the seemingly isolated and barren environment.
Is It Good?
I think we have a hit on our hands. It’s one of those stories that immediately pulls the reader in with its original characters, authentic drama and subtle humor that Lemire slips in throughout the storyline. Despite it being an introductory issue, it’s readable and easy to follow, but still manages to hint at the series’ hidden depth.