BLACK HAMMER #1 [Preview/Review]

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BLACK HAMMER #1/ Written by JEFF LEMIRE/ Art by DEAN ORMSTON/ Colors by DAVE STEWART/ Published by DARK HORSE COMICS

Ten years ago, they were the greatest heroes in the world. The super-strong Abraham Slam. America’s Sweetheart Golden Gail. Space-faring adventurer Colonel Weird and his faithful robot sidekick Talky-Walky. The mysterious mystic Madame Dragonfly. The Martian warlord Barbalien. And Black Hammer – the invincible champion of the common man!

Then… something happened. And the heroes disappeared, seemingly sacrificing themselves to save the world.

The truth is far stranger. Black Hammer somehow sacrificed himself to give his companions a chance at life, albeit it somehow trapped within the boundaries of a rural American town. And while Abraham Slam has come to enjoy the simple life of a farmer, the rest of the team considers their new lives little better than a prison sentence. This is particularly true of Barbalien, who misses his home on Mars, and Golden Gail, whose mind has grown to maturity while her body remains that of the nine-year-old girl that transformed into a superheroine with model good-looks!

Still, the heroes may be gone but not forgotten. And as Talky-Walky builds probe after probe to try and send a signal elsewhere, whilst caring for an increasingly distant Colonel Weird, one reporter has made it her mission to find out what happened to the lost heroes.

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Reading this first issue of Black Hammer, I can’t help but be reminded of Jeff Lemire’s work on Descender. Just as Descender may seem slightly derivative of Blade Runner and A.I. to the casual readerso to do we see Golden Gail as a female Shazam and Barbalien as a mash-up of Martian Manhunter and John Carter – Warlord of Mars. Both series make little effort to hide their sources yet they both twist the standard tropes and archetypes sufficiently to create something interesting.

The artwork proves equally engaging. Dean Ormston (artist on The Sandman: The Kindly Ones) has crafted a unique visual continuity for the characters, reminiscent of Lemire’s own art style while still being definitively Ormston’s. The color art by Dave Stewart leaves the finished art looking fantastic.

Fans of Lemire and Ormstom will be glad to know that this series does not disappoint for a moment! Black Hammer will appeal to all readers who enjoy a good mystery and unusual superheroes in the same pulp vein as Hellboy.

Black Hammer #1 will be available for purchase on July 20, 2016.

Rating 4

About Matt Morrison

Matt "Starman" Morrison is The Grand Exalted High Macha of Raspur - a non-existent but real-sounding country. He has been writing about comics since before the word "blogging" was coined. He enjoys acting, role-playing, movie-riffing and sarcasm. You can follow his adventures on Twitter, @GeekyGeekyWays.

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