Legacy. Do you remember legacy? At one time, heroes had moved on, and certain protégés had taken their place. Comics were imensly concerned with the aging phsyce of heroes.
We lost this quality for many years. Thankfully, that human element of "growing up and old" is returning to mainstream comics. Jeff Lemire had worked on Animal Man a few years ago and epitomized the pain and heartache parents feel at times, and he is setting himself up to tackle this theme of legacy with that same fervor.
Black Hammer #1 seems to be following a tradition of comics from Dark Horse that focus on creating hyper realistic characters. Dark Horse Comics is really giving Jeff the ability to cut loose and build realistic characters, but there is a strangeness to this title that would entice anyone who grew up watching The Twiglight Zone.
Imagine it, the golden age of superheroes. Bright costumes, crazy misadventures, and the cast..."Abraham Slam, the original two fisted crime buster", "Golden Gail, America's superpowered sweetheart", "Barbalien, Warlord from Mars, and Colonel Weird, swashbuckling space hero", back in the heyday, they had been teamed up with "Black Hammer, hero of the streets".
The adventure begins, though, with most these heroes making a living on a farm. The mild and melancholy beginning of this book takes us many years past this golden age. All these heroes were saved in a large scale event and have been confined to what appears to be a farming town for 10 years. The question as to how they got there and why they cannot leave give a deep sense of mystery, and inspires readers to seek the dialogue furiously for clues.
The prime issue ends with the now 23 year old daughter of Black Hammer writing an article on the disappearance of this team, ending with a resolution to find them, confident that they are not dead.
This tale holds in it the potential to entice readers who are bored of the typical superhero story. The scifi and mysterious elements follow almost a hellblazer tone, and many readers of the mysterious will love the sense of bafflement this story gives.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this though, this story is built for those who long for legacy and the topic of aging in comics. Abraham Slam had grown up in the city, and country life suits him. His teammates each have qualms with life on the farm though, and the discontent with age and the feeling of being trapped permeate this book.
While not an action packed first issue, it is compelling. A large amount of character building and mystery goes into creating a world, and a cast that is tangible. Abraham will remind readers of their blue collar grandpa, Gail deals with a very "Twiglight Zone" situation. All in all, a great start to an interesting story.
The publication of the book had been set for June 20th, but has been delayed. Jeff Lemire explained in an interview with comicbookresources.com.
"'Black Hammer' has been a labor of love for me," said Lemire. "It’s a project that I’ve been working on in various forms for seven years. And as excited as I am to share it, sometimes life gets in the way of comics. On March 26, my amazing collaborator Dean Ormston suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on the left side of his brain, which affected his whole right side. Dean is now at home and recovering. As a result, we have decided to postpone the launch of 'Black Hammer' until Dean is able to work regularly again. I’d like to thank all the fans and retailers for their patience and understanding as Dean recovers and promise that 'Black Hammer' will be worth the wait!"