Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artwork: Dean Ormston, Dave Stewart (colours), Todd Klein (lettering)
Release Date: 18th April 2018
[WARNING – REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS IF YOU’RE NOT ALREADY UP TO DATE WITH BLACK HAMMER]
If you’re not already familiar with Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s Eisner Award-winning Black Hammer… firstly, what the hell have you been doing with your life?! And secondly, you really need to turn away from this review as quickly as possible, because it’s packed with spoilers right from the get-go. Seriously, close this page, go pick up the first two trades and then come back and see what’s up. You can thank me later.
Anyway, rather than the hugely enjoyable side-stories that Dark Horse have been publishing in recent months, this is a direct continuation of the main story – a story which left us with a jaw-dropping cliff-hanger back in September where Lucy Weber picked up the Hammer of her deceased father, absorbing all its powers and finally discovering the truth about where our Golden Age heroes actually are!
However, while it’s not exactly a bait-and-switch, Lemire doesn’t quite deliver on the promise of the cliff-hanger just yet, as you can see from the preview below. Your initial reaction is likely to be frustration (as was mine), but it’s far from a return to ‘business as usual’ here as Lucy’s revelation – and subsequent disappearance – lights a fire under our farm-bound heroes, prompting them to relaunch their investigation with a renewed sense of purpose.
After the opening sequence, the story forks off into two separate narratives; one with the heroes in the farm trying to work together to figure out what happened to Lucy, and the other with the All-New Black Hammer trying to come to terms with… well, you’re just going to have to read the issue for yourself. Sorry. No spoilers here, folks.
Lemire’s dialogue continues to be some of the best in the business, and Ormston’s intentionally untidy, often chaotic artwork pairs with it beautifully to provide what is unquestionably one of the best comics on the shelves today. We meet some oddly familiar new faces as Lucy’s story continues, and the dynamic on the farm shifts dramatically as Madame Dragonfly – who we all know should not be trusted – returns to the fold to seemingly “aid” the investigation.
At the end of the day, Black Hammer clearly hasn’t lost a step during its six month hiatus, hitting the ground running with this new chapter and providing the same fantastic characterisation, razor-sharp homages and wildly expressive artwork that made the original series such a runaway success. But perhaps more than anything else, it’s just an amazing feeling to know that you’re reading a comic that future generations are going to be looking back on with wide-eyed reverence. An all-time classic in the making.