Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artwork: David Rubín
Release Date: 18th October 2017
Spinning out of the pages of the Eisner Award-winning Black Hammer, this new miniseries from writer Jeff Lemire and artist David Rubín sees Lucy Webber – the daughter of the eponymous superhero – trying to figure out the true story of what happened to her father by doing a little investigation into his rogues gallery.
It’s an interesting approach, basing a story around the lead character solving a mystery that the reader already knows the answer to, leaving this series as, effectively, an exercise in world building. Fortunately, world building is something Lemire absolutely excels at. In fact, one of the things that’s always been so impressive about the Black Hammer world is just how incredibly well-developed it all feels, and that’s an observation that can be made from pretty much the first issue of the main series. This new miniseries is no different, instantly immersing us in the superheroic lore of Spiral City and giving some much-needed love to several of the eye-catching villains who we’ve only seen in passing in the main series.
Speaking of eye-catching, David Rubín’s artistic style effortlessly ebbs and flows here alongside Lemire’s story, switching from rapid-fire panels and smooth, creative layouts during the exposition portions of the story to larger frames and daring double-page spreads for the key storyline beats. It’s a textbook example of writer and artist working in perfect harmony, and while Rubín’s style is a lot slicker and a little more cartoony than the unkempt energy of Dean Ormston’s work in the main series, we lose little of the ‘edge’ of Spiral City during the course of Lucy’s investigation.
The story itself is fairly straightforward, but we do get to find out a little more about Sherlock Frankenstein himself as Lucy pays a visit to Spiral Asylum for the Criminally Insane and its surly, ex-hero prison guard to question a few of Sherlock’s henchmen about his whereabouts. There’s a mixture of dry humour and storyline gravitas that has become one of Lemire’s calling cards, and the supporting characters he introduces here – including Mectoplasm, who pretty much steal the issue on his own – each feel like they could be fleshed out into their own series without too much extra effort.
It’s a simple premise and, as I mentioned above, is ultimately an exercise in world-building rather than providing any real unsolved mystery (we know where her dad is, after all). But watching Lemire and Rubin working together to add yet more flavour to one of the better developed comic book worlds in a long time is nothing less than an absolute joy. More Black Hammer is always a good thing, but with Lemire and Rubín at the helm, pouring their passion into this project, this new series is poised to become a great thing.
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