Sunday, June 26, 2016

Black Hammer #1 Review - Just for the Hell of It Review

Written by: Jeff Lemire
Art by: Dean Ormston, Dave Stewart and Todd Klein
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: July 20, 2016

I loves me some Jeff Lemire and since he is gone from the DC Comic pasture, I haven't been able to review anything he's done.  Of course, there are always ways around such things and I have a feeling I will be getting my Lemire fix in the coming months.  Whatever the future may bring, I certainly have today and today I'm reviewing Jeff's new Dark Horse book, Black Hammer.  Dark Horse describes it as such:

Once they were heroes, but that age has long since passed. Banished from existence by a multiversal crisis, the old champions of Spiral City—Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, Colonel Weird, Madame Dragonfly, and Barbalien—now lead simple lives in a timeless farming town. Even as they try to find their way home, trouble has a unique way of finding heroes wherever they are!

Sounds kick ass to me, but let's see if it's as good as it sounds...

The issue opens with an older man on a farm, going through what must be his normal, everyday routine.  It seems as if he is talking to nobody in particular (maybe it's just us the readers) about how his life has changed in the "Ten Years today since we arrived".  We don't yet know the who or what of the "we", but I have to say, it's as if this man is a long lost friend catching me up on his life.

We learn that his name is Abe when he finishes his work and talks to a young girl named Gail.  He seems to at least be a father figure to her as he complains about the amount of makeup she has on and that she is smoking...right before she flies away.  Yep, she just up and flies off and even though I knew this was a superhero book of sorts, it still shocked me in a really good way.  Things get even more shocking and awesome when we meet the rest of the "family".

Jeff Lemire really gives us a cold opening here.  It's obvious that he is going to take his time and let the story introduce the characters.  He isn't going to hold our hands and because of that, the crumbs we get taste as good as the whole cake...and boy, I can't wait to get a big old slice!

The story continues with Gail being joined for a rooftop brood by Barbalien.  Again, we get a couple of hints at what's going on...a party...stranded...Mommy Dearest...the way it used to's all so damn mysterious and intriguing that you turn the page looking for more puzzle pieces.

The pieces we get next are Talky Walky and Colonel Weird and yes, they are as crazy as their names.  Talky is a 50's invasion movie looking robot and Weird is his commanding officer.  We see a quick flashback of good times and then the bad times which seems to be the least for the Colonel.

As Walky works on a probe he hopes helps everyone out of their current situation and the Colonel disappears, the rest head off to town.  Lemire throws another character at us and just from the looks of her, she's not too friendly.  In fact, she's spooky as shit and what the hell is in that window?!?   

Once in town, they all go their separate ways and for a bunch of people (?) trying to stay undercover, none of them are really good at it.  It all almost ends in a big fight with the town Sheriff, but after a really cool one-panel flashback, they all head back to the farm.

The issue ends with the family heading off to their ten year anniversary and that's when Lemire lifts the veil a bit and makes what's going on make a whole lot more sense.  We see who these characters were, what they did to get where they are and that someone still believes in them.

I want to pause a second so I can find the right words here...I fucking love this comic!!!  Pardon my French, but I was not expecting this issue to be this good!  Jeff Lemire throws together a mix of indie, sci-fi, silver and golden age comic book craziness and I loved it more with every page turn.  I am not just saying this, but this story seems like the next big thing to me and if it isn't, it still will be to me. It is that good.  My two regrets are that the next issue is months away and because this is an advance review, I even have to wait a month to talk to anyone about this issue.  Just it when it comes out and drop me a line about it.

Dean Ormston and Dave Stewart make the book look like that amalgam of genres I mentioned above. At points it looks like a horror comic and at others something you found in your grandparent's basement with a name like "Tom Quick and the Rocket to Mars".  Everything fits the story so well and just looks fantastic.

Bits and Pieces:

Black Hammer #1 is a great start to a series that I can't wait to keep reading.  Jeff Lemire has captured such a diverse bunch of genres and molded them into a comic that feels like something that came out ages ago, yet still feels totally fresh.  I may be going out on a limb here, but this feels like the start of a classic.



  1. Wow, I'm going to give this a try, had no idea about it. Great Review Jim.

    1. thanks and it is an awesome start to the series!