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Dark Horse Comics has a history of publishing interesting and weird super-hero teams. The End League saw a world in which villains had won, The Umbrella Academy brought us a team that was as dysfunctional as any team could be, and now Black Hammer presents a group of super powered beings who are no longer content with the sacrifice they made ten years prior. Writer Jeff Lemire has imagined a team that has a few very well recognized analogues of famous heroes, and placed them in a town that only exists in very rural Midwestern areas, stuck there. Only one member of the group seems content to stay, but after ten years, the remainder are restless, looking to return to the outside world. That’s where issue 1 picks up, on the anniversary of a multiversal annihilation event (which could be a possible analogue of Crisis on Infinite Earths from DC)
The characters are rich and well thought out, relationships fully realized between them and histories apparent. This creates instant open communication between them, so the reader has to do very little inferring or guessing as to whether these characters like each other or not. Every character is unique and has their purpose for the overall story that will play out, from the spunky flying Gail, trapped in the body of a ten year old, to the possibly now insane and dimension hopping Colonel Weird. The pacing in Black Hammer is superb, with new plot elements or characters rolled out just as questions are raised from the current scene.
Dean Ormston, best known for his work on Judge Dredd and Lucifer, provides fantastic dark and well worn visuals. The characters and environments look haggard and well worn, taking the characterizations just that much further. Dave Stewart‘s coloring proves he’s one of the best in the industry, once again. Stewart’s color works perfectly with Ormston’s art, creating wistful scenes of vibrancy and melancholy. The heroes of Black Hammer look to the future as much as they reminisce on the past, and that’s what makes me most excited about this series, seeing the plot threads introduced in this first issue come to fruition. Dark Horse has a great track record with super-heroes, the story always comes first, and Black Hammer will not disappoint.
Black Hammer issue one lays the groundwork for a fantastic story to come. It nails an 8 out of 10.