Black Hammer Volume 1

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dean Ormston
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Publisher: Dark Horse

A review by Anelise Farris

Black Hammer Volume 1Black Hammer Volume 1 collects the first six issues of an original superhero series that is anything but conventional. Black Hammer tells the story of a group of former superheroes: Abraham Slam, Colonel Weird, Barbalien, Golden Gail, and Madame Dragonfly. Now that the age of heroes is over, these characters have been exiled to a rural farming village. While this might seem like an idyllic place to retire, the superheroes are eager to escape. And, when a stranger shows up with a job proposition, this might be just the answer they need.

When I first heard of this series, it was described to me as a superhero parody. I was a little skeptical because I thought it might result to mocking the genre. I am happy to say that Black Hammer is not out to ridicule the superhero genre but rather to write a love letter to the silver age of comics. This first volume is not plot-driven. And it works! Each of these initial issues is out to introduce us to the characters: their backstories and their powers. We learn about their hero days, how they are coping now, and what their futures might hold.

We begin to care deeply about each of these characters as if they are classic superheroes that we have been admiring for decades—and that’s a testament to the skill of the Black Hammer team. Jeff Lemire’s writing pairs so well with Dean Ormston’s art: giving readers a Silver Age-esque story with a modern feel. There are lots of easter eggs for superhero fans scattered throughout Black Hammer; these references work to show that this comic is not ridiculing the genre, and, instead, showing its appreciation for it. With the dark cloud of Black Hammer’s death looming over each of these characters, Lemire, Ormston, and Stewart come together not just to deconstruct the superhero genre, but also to rebuild it.

The Verdict
Buy it!
In Black Hammer Volume 1, the story is totally original yet eerily familiar: giving readers an affecting story about superheroes new and old.

Anelise Farris
farranel@isu.edu
I'm a doctor that specializes in folklore and mythology, speculative fiction, and disability studies. Basically, I'm a professional geek. When not researching or teaching, I read; I write; I yoga; I travel; I play with my fur babies; and, I watch way too many (if that's a thing) horror movies.

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