Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dean Ormston
Release Date: 19th October, 2016
With issue four, Black Hammer is continuing its opening gambit of focusing on one member of the team and adding their history to the story. This issue it’s Abraham Slam(kowski): the Captain America of this universe. However, Abraham Slam didn’t rely on Super Serum for his Superhero Genesis, just honest-to-God hard work, a fact that is core to our understanding of the character. Once again Jeff has taken a well-known Superhero archetype and tweaked it just a little. This minute change has quite a drastic adjustment on the character archetype, separating him enough that he doesn’t feel like a clone of Cap, more like deference to that ideal.
Abraham wasn’t my favourite character of this series coming into this issue; he was a bit too stiff for my tastes. However, I have to say that after learning more about his background, motivations, and ultimately his humanity I’ve warmed to him a lot more. Once again Jeff has crafted a tangible feeling of realism into a Black Hammer character that hits home. There is an emotional darkness to this issue that isn’t easy to distinguish, yet when you see it there is quite a powerful statement made on the predicament each team member finds him or herself dealing with in this isolation. However, this is hidden within a wonderfully comedic story, threaded in between scenes as Abraham and co prepare to have Tammy join the team for dinner. I’ll not spoil it, but it’s very funny, with Walky Talky (imo) stealing the show.
Dean Ormston continues to have a lot of fun with his art, really playing on the spirit of the comic and the time period it’s set in. I get the feeling in this issue I’m missing a lot of references (hey – my comics knowledge only spans so far), but the ones I did pick up on I enjoyed. The Batman ‘66 fighting sounds effects (POW, THWAP) brought a smile to my face, as did Gail in her Goth suit. It was not lost on me that Dean did some work on Sandman, and here Gail had a passing resemblance to Death – all that was missing was an Ankh necklace. I loved this issues’ villain, who I’m 99% sure is a tribute to Spiderman’s Lizard but with a much cooler name (again, no spoilers, read the issue yourself)! However, and I’ve said this last week too, the killing blow to Dean’s art is the emotion he manages to convey in the characters’ expressions, and when paired with Jeff’s charged character development it really does bring out the feels. One particular frame with Gail genuinely brought a lump to my throat, it’s fantastic stuff.
Black Hammer is fast becoming one of my favourite titles. It’s rare to find something that is so fun to read, yet still has an unmistakable gravitas to the story. The fantastic characters are delightful creations and there is a beautiful element of tragedy in each one (so far) that makes it surprisingly easy to invest in, and I’m all in. I’m finding it hard (so far), to pick something I don’t like about Black Hammer. All I can come up with is the fact that I felt in this issue I’m missing references to comics and characters that I don’t know, although that’s hardly something to get upset about, if anything it just makes me want to buy more comics!
If you want to find out more about Black Hammer, you can check out our interview with series writer Jeff Lemire by CLICKING HERE.
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The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom