Black Hammer by Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston Vol. 1 (2016)

L: 9/10

M: 6/10

Analysis from a canceled credit card, shredded but not forgotten:

With our second pick from the Jeff Lemire collection, I decided to select Black Hammer. This one holds a special place in my heart. It was thrust into my hands as a suggestion in my favorite comic book store, while I was staggering around Ann Arbor drunken and alone, waiting and hoping to build up the courage to go to a concert alone. Strange and unnecessary detour aside, I was very glad to make it home and surprised to find the first several issues of this volume in my backseat. The cast of characters is all variations of well-established characters in the big two, Thor, Galactus, Captain America, Martian Manhunter, and Shazam, to just name a few. Though, the scenery and story are of nothing that I have come across in my comic travels. A gigantic “Endgame” styled battle takes place, and its result is the decade-long exile to a country farm prison, where the heroes must hide their true selves and either choose to blend in or keep the flame of the past alive, along with the hope of seeing home again.

Pages into the first issue, all of this is laid out, and still, nothing seems rushed. The story splices in just enough of the way to keep the back of your mind curious, while the front part of the story sets up multiple side stories to keep the pages turning. Each of the first six issues dives into the backstory and origin of the main cast while adding a few curious logs onto the growing fire of this new universe being born.

I have never come across the art of Dean Ormston before this volume, but going back to this book a second time, I couldn’t imagine another hand at the wheel. This book flies all over different eras and dimensions, and the art couldn’t flow better. The few people who stand as villains in this opening act are drawn so horrendously ugly and mean that the longer I stared into their faces, the angrier I became. I think that’s a backhanded compliment, but I also don’t think I understand what a backhanded compliment is. So it’s just a compliment then.

These are the first issues that expanded into an entire universe of books, and I couldn’t be happier. The story has expanded to an additional volume of Black Hammer, side stories in Sherlock Frankenstein and Doctor Star, and Black Hammer ’45. Such a large portion of my ever-changing pull-list consist of Mr. Lemire now, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Analysis from the random strands of hair wrapped around your rubber band:

Not bad. Not great. Has potential.

I will elaborate a bit, but that’s the gist.

I left this novel in the hospital room for my fiancé to read while he sat with his dad. Upon completion, he noted that “You read some weird shit.” We broke up. I kid, I kid. However, I think he hit the nail on the head, but almost opposite, if that makes sense. I found the story original enough and clever, but nothing shook me. There was no real “weirdness” there to hook me. Reading graphic novels for me is becoming something like porn addiction. If I am not just freaked out, grossed out, or really shocked, then I’m not getting a lady boner for it. I think there is potential in future volumes, so I’m not counting it out yet. I really enjoyed the artwork. I love some gritty wrinkled faces and worn down eyes. The kind of details where you can almost feel the heaviness and melancholy of the characters appeals to me and on that Black Hammer delivered. So, let’s see what else ya got guys. I have hoped!

Jeff Lemire

dean ormston
Dean Ormston

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