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Black Hammer, Vol. 1: Secret Origins

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Once they were heroes, but the age of heroes has long since passed. Banished from existence by a multiversal crisis, the old champions of Spiral City--Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, Colonel Weird, Madame Dragonfly, and Barbalien--now lead simple lives in an idyllic, timeless farming village from which there is no escape! But as they employ all of their super abilities to free Once they were heroes, but the age of heroes has long since passed. Banished from existence by a multiversal crisis, the old champions of Spiral City--Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, Colonel Weird, Madame Dragonfly, and Barbalien--now lead simple lives in an idyllic, timeless farming village from which there is no escape! But as they employ all of their super abilities to free themselves from this strange purgatory, a mysterious stranger works to bring them back into action for one last adventure! COLLECTS: Black Hammer 1-6


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Once they were heroes, but the age of heroes has long since passed. Banished from existence by a multiversal crisis, the old champions of Spiral City--Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, Colonel Weird, Madame Dragonfly, and Barbalien--now lead simple lives in an idyllic, timeless farming village from which there is no escape! But as they employ all of their super abilities to free Once they were heroes, but the age of heroes has long since passed. Banished from existence by a multiversal crisis, the old champions of Spiral City--Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, Colonel Weird, Madame Dragonfly, and Barbalien--now lead simple lives in an idyllic, timeless farming village from which there is no escape! But as they employ all of their super abilities to free themselves from this strange purgatory, a mysterious stranger works to bring them back into action for one last adventure! COLLECTS: Black Hammer 1-6

30 review for Black Hammer, Vol. 1: Secret Origins

  1. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    I didn't necessarily dislike this first volume, but for the most part, there was a whole lotta nothing happening for the vast majority of the issues. Alright, so basically each issue features one of the main characters, focuses on their individual problems, and gives a bit of their origin story. The backstories all look a bit old-timey - golden age, silver age, whatever...you get the drift. It wasn't really until the end when I got to Madame Dragonfly's stuff that I found myself I didn't necessarily dislike this first volume, but for the most part, there was a whole lotta nothing happening for the vast majority of the issues. Alright, so basically each issue features one of the main characters, focuses on their individual problems, and gives a bit of their origin story. The backstories all look a bit old-timey - golden age, silver age, whatever...you get the drift. <--I liked it. It wasn't really until the end when I got to Madame Dragonfly's stuff that I found myself interested in a particular character, though. None of the others, with the possible exception of Gail, actually snagged my attention. The problem with Gail (the little girl/woman who has the Shazamesque powers) was that I find that whole adult trapped in a child's body just fucking creepy as hell. I have the same problem with the actual Shazam at times if I'm being totally honest. Anyway, I just sort of cringed the entire time I was reading Gail's story, inwardly screaming, Fix it! Fix it! It's gross!, and flipped the pages maybe faster than I should have. Overall, this was interesting enough that I'll probably come back and see if volume 2 has a bit more stuff happening in it. There are some cool plot threads, but I've been burned before by this sort of title - one that promises some fututre action/adventure, then goes nowhere. I'd feel better about Black Hammer if there had been something more than just a 6 issue set-up for whatever is supposed to happen next. It wasn't bad! <--that's not what I'm saying I just left me feeling trepidatious and uncertain that it was absolutely 100% going anywhere important soon.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    Picked this up because I've read work by Jeff Lemire before and enjoyed it. I wasn't disappointed. The writing, characterization, and worldbuilding were all top-notch. It's got superheroes in it, but it's not a superhero comic in any conventional way. Like most good stories, it's all about the characters. It's just that some of them happen to have cool powers. Best of all, it doesn't require any previous knowledge of existing mythologies to make any sense. If I had to describe it, I'd say it's so Picked this up because I've read work by Jeff Lemire before and enjoyed it. I wasn't disappointed. The writing, characterization, and worldbuilding were all top-notch. It's got superheroes in it, but it's not a superhero comic in any conventional way. Like most good stories, it's all about the characters. It's just that some of them happen to have cool powers. Best of all, it doesn't require any previous knowledge of existing mythologies to make any sense. If I had to describe it, I'd say it's somewhere in between Watchmen and an episode of The Twilight Zone. If that sort of thing sounds like it would be up your alley, this comic might be for you.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Donovan

    Read twice now, this is still one of my favorite Jeff Lemire comics for its world-building, humor, and sentimentality. This is a love letter to superhero comics. By examining the origin of these borrowed characters and forcing them into his classic rural existentialism, Lemire somehow humanizes and emboldens them. He examines Golden Age comics, horror comics, comic tropes like DC’s “Crisis,” and characters that are akin to Adam Strange, Mary Marvel, Captain America, Martian Manhunter, Raven, and Read twice now, this is still one of my favorite Jeff Lemire comics for its world-building, humor, and sentimentality. This is a love letter to superhero comics. By examining the origin of these borrowed characters and forcing them into his classic rural existentialism, Lemire somehow humanizes and emboldens them. He examines Golden Age comics, horror comics, comic tropes like DC’s “Crisis,” and characters that are akin to Adam Strange, Mary Marvel, Captain America, Martian Manhunter, Raven, and Swamp Thing, to name a few. Dean Ormston had a stroke, recovered, and then continued to illustrate this comic. That's absolute dedication. And it's beautifully illustrated. Like Lemire says, it's a wonderful "idiosyncratic" style that looks like an indie comic while featuring superheroes. Dave Stewart's colors are incredible, as are the legendary Todd Klein's letters. This is a crisply designed book, down even to its thick pages and loads of extras. Don’t miss this one.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dan Schwent

    Spiral City's seven greatest heroes disappeared in battle ten years ago and awoke in a small town they couldn't leave. Will they ever find their way back home? I've been hearing about Black Hammer for the last couple years and finally decided to give it a shot. I wish I would have been on board at the very beginning because this is some good shit. Basically, analogues of Captain America, Mary Marvel, Martian Manhunter, Adam Strange/Captain Comet, Madame Xanadu, and Robby the Robot from Lost in Spa Spiral City's seven greatest heroes disappeared in battle ten years ago and awoke in a small town they couldn't leave. Will they ever find their way back home? I've been hearing about Black Hammer for the last couple years and finally decided to give it a shot. I wish I would have been on board at the very beginning because this is some good shit. Basically, analogues of Captain America, Mary Marvel, Martian Manhunter, Adam Strange/Captain Comet, Madame Xanadu, and Robby the Robot from Lost in Space are stranded in a bizarre town and unable to leave. Black Hammer, the Thor analogue of the group, has vanished. When the book begins, they've been stranded for ten years. This omnibus introduces the heroes and their plight. Abraham Slam, the Captain America analogue, spends his days working on the farm and pining over Tammy Trueheart, the waitress at the local diner. Golden Gail is a seventy year old in the body of a super powered nine year old girl. Barbalien struggles with being an alien outsider and also being gay. Madam Dragonfly keeps herself apart from the rest of the family at her mysterious cabin. Talky-Walky, the robot, resents being the housekeeper and will probably snap sometime in the future. And Colonel Weird spends most of his time muttering and going in and out of the para-zone, the bizarre space between dimensions. Most of the characters have origin stories in this volume. Much like Astro City, Vol. 1: Life in the Big City, there's a tremendous sense of history to the universe Lemire has created, like there's a stack of old Black Hammer comics in a musty basement someplace I've never read. Dean Ormston's art has a moody, gloomy feel, perfect for a book depicting super heroes trapped in a town they can't escape. The town's origin is hinted at and possible salvation arrives only to have its legs cut out from under it. Black Hammer: Secret Origins has whet my whistle for the rest of the series. If you're into super hero stories that are more than guys in spandex punching each other, give it a read. Four out of five stars.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    4ish stars. Combining retro superhero comics with modern indie sensibilities, this first volume is seriously cool. First of all, superheroes, duh, who doesn't love superheroes?! These superheroes, however, have a lot more in common with the Golden Age heroes of old than with the ones we see on big screens across the world. Each issue in Secret Origins focuses on a different character's backstory in this mysterious "family" of heroes. To be honest, we're really only given the briefest of hints at 4ish stars. Combining retro superhero comics with modern indie sensibilities, this first volume is seriously cool. First of all, superheroes, duh, who doesn't love superheroes?! These superheroes, however, have a lot more in common with the Golden Age heroes of old than with the ones we see on big screens across the world. Each issue in Secret Origins focuses on a different character's backstory in this mysterious "family" of heroes. To be honest, we're really only given the briefest of hints at how these people ended up the way they ended up. As far as plot goes, it's basically all set-up, which seems like it would be frustrating after six issues not to have a clear indication of what's actually happening but it's okay because there's some great character work and the set-up is legitimately interesting. It took me at least an issue or two to enjoy Dean Ormston's artwork, maybe because I'm so used to superhero comics looking a certain way. The truth is, it actually fits the story perfectly and really enhances the indie vibe. Again, this isn't your typical superhero story from the Big Two publishers. On top of that, the man suffered a stroke just after he finished drawing the first issue and, if anything, the quality in the following issues improves. Is that not incredible? This is now at the top of my hypothetical pull list. Posted in Mr. Philip's Library

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    Very entertaining! Black Hammer is kind of an old school comic that mixes some elements of the golden age comics like The Escapist and characters loosely inspired by the big ticket ones like Invincible, with a brilliant original story. The superheroes are stranded in a sort of para-reality for reasons not quite explained in this first volume. Abraham Slam, Barbie, Dragonfly...really clever fun names. After an initial introduction, we have some vignettes to fill in backstory to the principal char Very entertaining! Black Hammer is kind of an old school comic that mixes some elements of the golden age comics like The Escapist and characters loosely inspired by the big ticket ones like Invincible, with a brilliant original story. The superheroes are stranded in a sort of para-reality for reasons not quite explained in this first volume. Abraham Slam, Barbie, Dragonfly...really clever fun names. After an initial introduction, we have some vignettes to fill in backstory to the principal characters. The only issue I had was reading some of the dark text against dark backgrounds - more difficult with my old fart eyes. Highly recommended! Enjoy!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    Superheroes are transported to a mysterious farm and get new identities for no reason - and that’s Black Hammer! You know what this title needs? A STORY! This first volume is all table-setting which is mostly why it’s so unsatisfying. Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston introduce their Golden Age superheroes, all of whom are derivative knockoffs of more famous characters: Abraham Slam (Captain America), Colonel Randall Weird (Doctor Strange), Talky-Walky (a generic robot), Mark Marz/Barbalien (J’onn J’ Superheroes are transported to a mysterious farm and get new identities for no reason - and that’s Black Hammer! You know what this title needs? A STORY! This first volume is all table-setting which is mostly why it’s so unsatisfying. Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston introduce their Golden Age superheroes, all of whom are derivative knockoffs of more famous characters: Abraham Slam (Captain America), Colonel Randall Weird (Doctor Strange), Talky-Walky (a generic robot), Mark Marz/Barbalien (J’onn J’onzz/Martian Manhunter), Golden Gail (Mary Marvel), Madame Dragonfly (Madame Xanadu), Black Hammer (Steel), and the big bad, Anti-God (The Anti-Monitor). Fair enough - so does this mean Lemire has a new take on superheroes or a fresh commentary/subversive interpretation of these characters, like a 21st century Watchmen? Nope! It’s a bad soap opera full of depressives instead. Gail’s acting out at school because she’s a 55 year old in a kid’s body. She’s also secretly in love with Barbalien who’s in love with the local Catholic priest. Abraham’s giving it to the Sheriff’s ex. Broadly speaking, a couple of them are listlessly trying to figure out a way back to wherever they came from but the main “story” of this book is a dinner they all have with the waitress! What the hell, Jeff Lemire?! The title character appears in one scene - one! - so it’s completely unclear why Black Hammer is seemingly so important. As the subtitle suggests, most of the book is about relating the origins of each character, the majority of which were tired, unimpressive and rushed though Col. Weird’s one was ok - the “doorways in time” were a clever storytelling device. Dean Ormston’s art is pretty cool too. There are the tiniest of seeds of interesting ideas but, my word, the pacing is too damn slow! At this rate it’ll be three or four books deep before any semblance of a plot appears and I didn’t get nearly enough from this first book to make me want to keep reading any further. Black Hammer, Volume 1: Secret Origins is a terrible, tedious, glacially-paced pseudo-superhero comic about nothing - not recommended!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Paul E. Morph

    I initially picked this book up because I loved the cover. I went into it with some degree of wariness and cynicism, though, because it looked like yet another Watchmen wannabe book. While it does hold up a funhouse mirror to the superhero genre, I really enjoyed it because it isn't attacking or ridiculing the genre but rather shows great affection for it. There were enough twists and turns to keep me interested. Also, there's that artwork! Considering Dean Ormston drew this while recovering from I initially picked this book up because I loved the cover. I went into it with some degree of wariness and cynicism, though, because it looked like yet another Watchmen wannabe book. While it does hold up a funhouse mirror to the superhero genre, I really enjoyed it because it isn't attacking or ridiculing the genre but rather shows great affection for it. There were enough twists and turns to keep me interested. Also, there's that artwork! Considering Dean Ormston drew this while recovering from a brain haemorrhage that paralysed his right side (he's right handed) the artwork on this book is incredible! I mean, the artwork would be incredible anyway, but... whoa! What this man has accomplished here really is amazing. All things considered, I'm really looking forward to the next volume.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jedi JC Daquis

    If you love that Jeff Lemire trademark formula of loneliness and hopeless yearning induced by separation of worlds, mixed with a healthy dose of weird family/lover drama, you will definitely love Black Hammer. And its first volume is a slow-paced and carefully written introduction to a team of superheroes who somehow are "imprisoned" in a country town in what might be another universe. Secret Origins focuses on the what and the who about the characters, while deliberately postponing the answers If you love that Jeff Lemire trademark formula of loneliness and hopeless yearning induced by separation of worlds, mixed with a healthy dose of weird family/lover drama, you will definitely love Black Hammer. And its first volume is a slow-paced and carefully written introduction to a team of superheroes who somehow are "imprisoned" in a country town in what might be another universe. Secret Origins focuses on the what and the who about the characters, while deliberately postponing the answers to the why and the how they got into that place. Black Hammer's strength therefore comes from the distinct personalities of the characters and the interesting interplay between them. Each main character in Black Hammer gets his/her own issue, carefully fleshing out their personalities and their motivations. Like why Golden Gail abhors being inside the body of a nine-year old girl, or why Colonel Weird is well, weird. Embedded in each issue are their respective past lives as celebrated superheroes, decade-old memories of their JLA/Avenger-ish exploits. I like how Lemire imagines them as golden-age comics superheroes who can be facetiously labeled as ripoffs from characters we are very familiar with. For example, Golden Gail is Dark Horse's Mary Marvel, or Abe Slam is Captain America. Even one of the villains look like a mashup of Galactus, Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor! Little has been told about the mystery that engulfs our team of marooned superheroes, why they got there and what happened right before. Yet the character-driven volume one efficiently takes its readers to the world of these sad superheroes.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    It’s obvious that Jeff Lemire has a great love for many of the classic characters and stories of Marvel and DC comics. In Black Hammer he does something I nearly always enjoy: he takes these classics and files off the serial numbers so he can take them for a spin outside of the confines of their home universe. There is a long and hallowed tradition of this. Moore did it with the Watchmen; Busiek did it with Astro City; Warren Ellis riffed on it all over the place with Planetary; you could even s It’s obvious that Jeff Lemire has a great love for many of the classic characters and stories of Marvel and DC comics. In Black Hammer he does something I nearly always enjoy: he takes these classics and files off the serial numbers so he can take them for a spin outside of the confines of their home universe. There is a long and hallowed tradition of this. Moore did it with the Watchmen; Busiek did it with Astro City; Warren Ellis riffed on it all over the place with Planetary; you could even say it goes as far back as Mark Gruenwald’s ‘homage’ to the Justice League with his creation of the Squadron Supreme and Chris Claremont’s homage to the Legion of Superheroes with the Shi’ar Imperial Guard. Long story short: the world of comics is full of people admiring someone else’s creation and 'ripping it off' so they can play with the same toys. Often, when we’re lucky, this also means we are no longer restricted by decades of continuity and can actually bring some meaningful change to these characters…at least those are the times when I most appreciate this practice. Lemire makes no bones about his inspirations. Abraham ‘Slam’ Slamkowski is obviously Captain America, Mark Markz aka Barbalien the Warlord of Mars is a ‘rip-off’ of J’onn J’onzz the Martian Manhunter, Golden Gail is a gender-swapped and reverse-changing Captain Marvel (er, that’s the Shazam one), Colonel Randall Weird is Adam Strange having a *really* bad day, and Madame Dragonfly is an homage to the horror comic anthologies of old with their creepy hosts merged with characters like Madam Xanadu. As I noted above these homages allow the classic archetypes to get a chance to live and breathe more freely. Not confined to established continuity (outside of the general shape of their origins and features that make them who they are) they can grow and change and *gasp* even die (permanently I mean…no Barry Allen retcons here) so that their stories gain a real shape: a beginning, middle, and end. This is obviously something the parent corporations of their more famous, and trademarked, inspirations are generally loathe to allow. This is somewhat ironic in the case of the Black Hammer stories as the characters are permitted to live, breathe, and grow while living out a story in which they are as trapped in stasis in one way as are their famous inspirations (though this is not the four-colour prison of continuity, but rather an inability to leave the confines of a seemingly mild mannered country town in the middle of nowhere). Volume 1 introduces us to the characters mentioned above: heroes apparently exiled to a quiet farmhouse after surviving an apocalyptic battle with a cosmic enemy know as the Anti-god. The heroes are living uneasily alongside their civilian neighbours. A few, like Slam, Gail, and the shapeshifting Barbalien, are more or less able to live a ‘normal’ life (whether they like it or not), while others are forced to live in hiding due to not being able to adhere to the human norm in appearance. Also, all of the heroes have discovered that none of them are able to leave the confines of the township in which their farmhouse resides, though the exact implications of trying to contravene this are not gone into explicitly; only the ominous absence of one of their number, the titular Black Hammer, provides any possible clue as to what the consequences of leaving might be. I don’t want to go into too many details about the storyline itself. Suffice it to say that we come to learn about the backgrounds, powers, and feelings of each of the heroes in turn as they face the daily challenges imposed upon them by ‘normal’ life. I was at first less than impressed with the art of the series as it can look a little ‘messy’ (to me at least) at first glance, but the more I looked at some of the details, and considered the type of horror-in-real-life story being told, the more I came to appreciate it. There’s really a lot for an old-time comic book fan to love in this series: great homages to classic characters that manage to capture the essence of their inspirations without being slavish and with the ability to move beyond the confines normally imposed upon their ‘funny book’ forebears. I particularly liked the nuanced Barbalien, a character whose inner conflicts due to his own identity go beyond being an alien on earth who has to hide himself via shapeshifting and Colonel Weird, who at first seems like nothing more than a crazy old coot who floats around and materializes at inopportune moments, but who proves to possibly be the one that holds the answers to the mysteries that confound his friends (and whose partial existence in a Lovecraftian side-universe really is creepy). I definitely look forward to continuing with this series and seeing how the mystery of our heroes deepens.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Chad

    As Lemire says in the afterword, this is Essex County meets superheroes. Take all of the loneliness and isolation of his rural indie comics and insert superheroes. Our "family' of superheroes have been trapped in this little Canadian farm town for the last 10 years after fighting a Crisis-like event. Each issue concentrates on one member of the family and the book as a whole could be considered an introduction to our cast. Each character is an homage to a character or genre from the Golden Age. As Lemire says in the afterword, this is Essex County meets superheroes. Take all of the loneliness and isolation of his rural indie comics and insert superheroes. Our "family' of superheroes have been trapped in this little Canadian farm town for the last 10 years after fighting a Crisis-like event. Each issue concentrates on one member of the family and the book as a whole could be considered an introduction to our cast. Each character is an homage to a character or genre from the Golden Age. In the book, you've got Captain Marvel, Martian Manhunter, Captain America, Mystery in Space, and House of Mystery all with a Lemire-esque twist. My favorite was Golden Gail. I also loved the Swamp Thing homage with Len and Bernie appearing as hunters. Now on to volume 2.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sud666

    I didn't know what to think about this series, but saw a lot of my friends on GR reading it. I figured..why not? I am glad I did. This is a weird tale about a bunch of Golden Age Super Heroes that saved the earth, but somehow managed to get trapped on a farm in a country setting that they can not leave. Their struggle to fit into a small town life that they are ill suited for. The entire team is composed of semi-misfits from a Martian warlord to a 55 year old woman with Shazaam-like powers trappe I didn't know what to think about this series, but saw a lot of my friends on GR reading it. I figured..why not? I am glad I did. This is a weird tale about a bunch of Golden Age Super Heroes that saved the earth, but somehow managed to get trapped on a farm in a country setting that they can not leave. Their struggle to fit into a small town life that they are ill suited for. The entire team is composed of semi-misfits from a Martian warlord to a 55 year old woman with Shazaam-like powers trapped in a 9 year old girls body. Or the Colonel who is astrally projected into another universe. This cast goes through the trials of trying to fit into a small country community without revealing what they are and the fact that they are trapped in the town area. Truly cool and original. The artowrk is also very interesting. It works well for the story. I actually liked it. This was a great starting volume for what looks like a great series. I hope the limitations are spelled out more clearly in upcoming issues. I am interested. This is a nice and original story with good characters that have depth. I'm in.

  13. 4 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    Black Hammer is in the first volume Jeff Lemire’s love letter to superhero comics, particularly the Golden and Silver Ages of comics. He does superhero work for the comics Big Houses that I have never much been able to fully appreciate. Not enough heart. Flat dialogue that doesn’t quite fit. I prefer his indie northern Canadian farm comics, sad, anguished, father-son focused, family focused, though I also like his indie sci-fi stuff like Descender and Trillium, where he gets that sad heart thing Black Hammer is in the first volume Jeff Lemire’s love letter to superhero comics, particularly the Golden and Silver Ages of comics. He does superhero work for the comics Big Houses that I have never much been able to fully appreciate. Not enough heart. Flat dialogue that doesn’t quite fit. I prefer his indie northern Canadian farm comics, sad, anguished, father-son focused, family focused, though I also like his indie sci-fi stuff like Descender and Trillium, where he gets that sad heart thing going. In Lemire’s indie stuff there’s always a streak of sadness, loss, regret. Heart! In Black Hammer, Lemire makes the most conscious choice he has made so far to meld his two loves—realistic, character-based stories, and superhero comics. So how does he do this? He sticks the superheroes on a northern Ontario farm! Why is not clear, yet, but here all of the different superheroes, “out to pasture” for what I presume to be a time, get to function as a kind of family. None of this is really all that new,. We have old superheroes in Watchmen and even Batman in the Dark Knight Returns deeply reflecting on the past and looking to an uncertain future, trying to scrape up some kind of resolve to go on, but for what? To care about each other and themselves, first and foremost. And maybe one more adventure lies in their future? Who knows, but you don’t want to read a superhero comic unless they get to be superheroes again, right? Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, Colonel Weird, Madame Dragonfly, and Barbalien were once the champions of Spiral City, Abe being the lead guy in this volume. Abe starts a relationship with a local waitress, who after a time insists on coming to his house for supper. . . so they have to hide those secret identities. Golden Gail would be 60, but for some unexplained reason is in the body of a 9 year old girl. She is unhappy, especially when she gets in trouble for smoking and swearing like a Marine in 4th grade. Not much really happens in this first volume, but that's okay, we're just getting to know people a little. You want heart? Dean Ormson draws this for Lemire, but in the process he had a brain hemorrhage, paralyzing the tight side of his body, and he’s right-handed! He recovered and completed this work, and it’s really well done, like a cross between Lemire’s sketchy art style and typical superhero style (and covers from what we presume to be 40s and 50s comics Our Heroes would have been featured in, which is really fun). I laughed, reading this, a few times, which I suddenly realized is very rare for me in reading Lemire. Not a sense of humor guy, but this was actually funny in places! I also see Lemire’s love of old pulp comics in this volume that is like his buddy Matt Kindt’s love. Mystery, horror, sci-fi, it’s all good for these boys. And me.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ivan

    Lemire is well know name in comic book world and since I started wonderful Descender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars I been curious about other work. Was Descender just a fluke, moment of inspiration of otherwise mediocre writer, or do we truly quality writer. Currently I'm leaning heavily towards the latter. Black Hammer is combination two very different things, golden/silver age superhero comics and character driven drama. This graphic novel menages to give courteous nod to many classic superhero comics wh Lemire is well know name in comic book world and since I started wonderful Descender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars I been curious about other work. Was Descender just a fluke, moment of inspiration of otherwise mediocre writer, or do we truly quality writer. Currently I'm leaning heavily towards the latter. Black Hammer is combination two very different things, golden/silver age superhero comics and character driven drama. This graphic novel menages to give courteous nod to many classic superhero comics while shaping intriguing characters and not that simple relationships between them with melancholic atmosphere knitted into all of it. Volume one only six single issue long so we are only teased with some details of overall plot and and intrigued with character and I can't wait for volume 2 because I think this graphic novel is potentially favorites shelf material.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tiago

    Masterpiece, engaging, memorable, these are the words that comes to mind when thinking about Black Hammer, this book not only pays homage to a lot of the golden age comics, it elevates the medium to a higher ground, series like these are the reason I love superhero stories so much, don't miss it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Artemy

    Black Hammer, Jeff Lemire's new indie book, is yet another take on the superhero genre. It's not bad, but it's not very original. The comic is about a team of superheroes who got stranded in some kind of village as a result of a crisis-like event. There is no actual explanation of what happened, but in each issue we get to see the characters' lives before and after the event. The after part is actually the best part of the story — even though their life in this village as a pretend family is not Black Hammer, Jeff Lemire's new indie book, is yet another take on the superhero genre. It's not bad, but it's not very original. The comic is about a team of superheroes who got stranded in some kind of village as a result of a crisis-like event. There is no actual explanation of what happened, but in each issue we get to see the characters' lives before and after the event. The after part is actually the best part of the story — even though their life in this village as a pretend family is not very eventful, the characters themselves are interesting, and their relationships with each other are compelling. The flashbacks to their lives before the event is what brings this book down, in my opinion. The main characters' superhero alter-egos are basically rip-offs of popular Marvel and DC characters like Superman, Captain America, Swamp Thing, Martian Manhunter, Shazam, etc. Not only was this done a thousand times before, it was done in much better ways. Here, Lemire doesn't even try to say anything new about them. To add insult to injury, he writes those sequences in the style of old-fashioned comics, using thought balloons with ridiculously corny expository monologues. It's nowhere near as bad and wordy as your average Stan Lee comic, of course, but it nonetheless creates a very stark contrast between a modern-style dark and broody current story and naive, corny flashbacks. Dan Ormston's artwork with Dave Stewart's colours looks great, and is easily one of the best things about this series. It's somewhat similar to Lemire's own art style, but more detailed and bold. Every page of Black Hammer looks beautiful, from rural landscapes to superhero fights to psychedelic trips through time and space. I much prefer Lemire's indie books to his superhero stuff, and this comic is, literally, both of them merged into one. It's only the first volume, so we'll see where this one goes. I quite liked certain elements of Black Hammer, so I definitely will check out the next one. I only hope that Lemire will have more confidence in his characters as original creations, not just as discount mainstream superhero rip-offs.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    Wow, I really enjoyed this one. Just when you think you've seen everything in the superhero genre, it's awesome that a writer like Jeff Lemire can come along with an original story that feels fresh. You know in superhero comic book universes when a big epic crossover crisis happens because the publisher wants to reset continuity and get rid of particular characters that won't fit into the new mold? When a God-like being threatens existence itself and some of our heroes sacrifice themselves to sav Wow, I really enjoyed this one. Just when you think you've seen everything in the superhero genre, it's awesome that a writer like Jeff Lemire can come along with an original story that feels fresh. You know in superhero comic book universes when a big epic crossover crisis happens because the publisher wants to reset continuity and get rid of particular characters that won't fit into the new mold? When a God-like being threatens existence itself and some of our heroes sacrifice themselves to save the universe? Well, this book speculates on what happens to those characters post-event. After sacrificing themselves for Spiral City in a Crisis on Infinite Earths-style event, six Golden Age heroes find themselves on a farm in a quiet rural town, inexplicably unable to leave. Some are content with their new existence, while some are aching to find a way out. If you're looking for big, epic superpowered action, you won't find it here. This story is a quiet, character-focused tale, as we watch the group try to deal with their new lives, hide their unique superpowers, and search for purpose now that they aren't heroes anymore. I love these characters and each chapter in this volume focuses on each person's history before the crisis and parallels the past with what they have going on in the present on the farm. While Abraham Slam and Barbalien are both trying to find their place in this new life while also finding new love, my favorite character, Golden Gail is having a much harder time. Her powers cause her to turn into a superpowered 9-year old girl, but after the Crisis, she is stuck in her little girl form. Being a 55-year-old woman (with all the accompanying thoughts and desires) stuck in a 9-year-old body can cause anyone to be bitter, so who can blame her for wanting a cigarette or a drink or three in the afternoon? This book is a fascinating, spirited love letter to classic Golden/Silver/Bronze Age superhero comics (with obvious send-ups to known heroes Captain America, Swamp Thing, Mary Marvel, and Martian Manhunter), featuring detailed world-building and lovingly realized characters. Can't wait to see where this goes.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Benji Glaab

    Wow!!! This was great I found this to have a good deal of mystery, and intrigue. So many things are left unsaid can't wait to have some answers in the next volume. The golden era was done well, I'm no expert but I found the convo humorous and corny kind of matched the era. Mind you this is only on display during the backstory segments. Where each character gets there own highlight for each issue of the volume. Despite being super heroes the characters are very human feeling. Great characterizatio Wow!!! This was great I found this to have a good deal of mystery, and intrigue. So many things are left unsaid can't wait to have some answers in the next volume. The golden era was done well, I'm no expert but I found the convo humorous and corny kind of matched the era. Mind you this is only on display during the backstory segments. Where each character gets there own highlight for each issue of the volume. Despite being super heroes the characters are very human feeling. Great characterizations happening. I've always loved reading Lemire books and this one is no different. Will be reading the next ones asap

  19. 4 out of 5

    Valéria.

    I do not understand why I was avoiding this for so long..

  20. 4 out of 5

    Chris Lemmerman

    [Read as single issues] Say what you want about Jeff Lemire and superhero comics (and there are things to say) but when he does it right, he does it really right. Black Hammer is great stuff. When...something (?) happens, trapping a group of superheroes in a farm town that they can't ever leave, they have to adapt to civilian life where no one can know their secrets. It goes about as well as you can expect. Each character is a parody of a different superhero, mostly DC heroes like Shazam and Marti [Read as single issues] Say what you want about Jeff Lemire and superhero comics (and there are things to say) but when he does it right, he does it really right. Black Hammer is great stuff. When...something (?) happens, trapping a group of superheroes in a farm town that they can't ever leave, they have to adapt to civilian life where no one can know their secrets. It goes about as well as you can expect. Each character is a parody of a different superhero, mostly DC heroes like Shazam and Martian Manhunter, but with Lemire-esque twists that keep things interesting. Each issue of this opening arc focuses on a single character, explaining who they are, what their powers are, and how well they're fitting in with their new life while the mystery of the death of Black Hammer looms around them. It's almost like Desperate Housewives with superheroes, but not as much drama or murder. At least, not in the present day stories. Joining Lemire is artist Dean Ormston, whose art has a very Silver Age feel without looking dated, and it's a perfect fit for these characters who seem to have stepped right out of a Showcase volume into this series.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Vinton Bayne

    WHAT THE HECK! Why did it take me so long to follow everyone's recommendations and read this? Such amazing takes on classic comic characters (slightly tweaked). Lemire strikes again, telling amazing stories and tearing into your heart as per usual. I love the art here as well. Everything pays a beautiful homage to comics early days.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    Intriguing and fun! As Lemire explains in his Afterword, this story was originally conceived back when the notion of his working in the mainstream superhero genre was too fantastic to take seriously. Black Hammer is a love letter to the genre steeped in the indie sensibilities of his early Essex County work. Once they were superheroes, saving Spiral City countless times from the forces of evil. After a climactic battle with the evil known as Anti-God, there was a flash of light, and they found t Intriguing and fun! As Lemire explains in his Afterword, this story was originally conceived back when the notion of his working in the mainstream superhero genre was too fantastic to take seriously. Black Hammer is a love letter to the genre steeped in the indie sensibilities of his early Essex County work. Once they were superheroes, saving Spiral City countless times from the forces of evil. After a climactic battle with the evil known as Anti-God, there was a flash of light, and they found themselves on the Farm, just a small farm on the outskirts of a town in the middle of nowhere. A dire (and, so far, unspecified) fate awaits any of our heroes foolish enough to attempt to travel beyond town, though the townsfolk can come and go as they please. Our heroes are trapped, and have been so for ten years ... Dysfunction is beginning to chew away at their group dynamic. Golden Gail, trapped in a perpetually nine year old body, is starting to act out in school. Madame Dragonfly is withdrawing more and more into her mystical pursuits. Col. Weird is not all there, physically or mentally. The rest have their problems as well, despite everyone's pretense of a normal life. They make half-hearted attempts at escape, but after ten years, so much has been tried already. And then, just when a way out seems to have presented itself ... but that would be telling. I'm liking this series a great deal so far. There are a few inside references to delight a comics fan's heart (two hunters named Len and Bernie show up and then we go into a riff on Swamp Thing's origin ...) This is one of Lemire's better series, well worth your time.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Vojtěch Rabyniuk

    If you are writing a comics that is depressive parody you should know the original as good as possible and Jeff Lemire does. He is undeniably taking a fresh and different look on a superhero genre and he is adding a bit of horror and bizarre to the mix on top of the mentioned depression. He is mostly taking DC comics as a source for Balck Hammer but he is not only draining out of DC but Lemire is creating here e heroic epos of his own. A sad one, hopeless one but still an epos. Art of Dean Ormsto If you are writing a comics that is depressive parody you should know the original as good as possible and Jeff Lemire does. He is undeniably taking a fresh and different look on a superhero genre and he is adding a bit of horror and bizarre to the mix on top of the mentioned depression. He is mostly taking DC comics as a source for Balck Hammer but he is not only draining out of DC but Lemire is creating here e heroic epos of his own. A sad one, hopeless one but still an epos. Art of Dean Ormston is perfectly fitting the atmosphere and there is no better colorist than Dave Stewart right now.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Wing Kee

    Now I know how Superboy Prime felt. World: The art is fantastic, it's moody, the tone is informed by the muted art and the colors just ground it so well. This is not drawn like a superhero book at all. The world building is fantastic, it's slow, it's measured and it's all character driven. We see the world through the eyes and the context of the team and the pieces we see are truly a love letter to comic books and mainly DC comics which is my thing. Beautiful, haunting and small. I love the quiet Now I know how Superboy Prime felt. World: The art is fantastic, it's moody, the tone is informed by the muted art and the colors just ground it so well. This is not drawn like a superhero book at all. The world building is fantastic, it's slow, it's measured and it's all character driven. We see the world through the eyes and the context of the team and the pieces we see are truly a love letter to comic books and mainly DC comics which is my thing. Beautiful, haunting and small. I love the quiet town setting which reminds me of Lemire's other books Underwater Welder and Essex County. Story: Beautiful and quiet is this story. It's small and large at the same time and always focused on the characters. This is not a action book, it's a character book about Superheroes and that's what makes it so good. It reminds me of the best of Astro City, Powers, and even Watchmen, the quiet look at superhero characters when they aren't suoerheroing. This book doesn't really have an arc at the moment just the patched up together story of each member and it makes sense cause they are truly a patched up family right now. Man the 10 years they go through in this little piece of paradise really made me think about what Superboy Prime was going through for 20+ years after Crisis on Infinite Earths. Characters: Beautiful and well constructed. Each character is real and flawed and human (or not so human) telling very human stories and feeling very small and big and real emotions. These characters ring even truer because of the analogs they represent and the play on these characters and their emotions: from Martian Manhunter, Captain Marvel, Adam Strange, Swamp Thing, Black Hawks to even modern characters like Steel. These characters are a love letter to pulp and DC comics and adventure comics of a bygone era. So good. I loved th his first arc, not a lot happens and it's really slow and measured. It's slice of life superhero style in a quiet little town (which Lemire loves to do). Onward to the next book!

  25. 4 out of 5

    L. McCoy

    So the first book I finished in the new year... I guess it’s good for it to be a 3-star book so I won’t expect 2018 to be a good or bad year for books. But Lemire only getting 3 stars... wow... What’s it about? A group of superheroes from a different world get in an accident when fighting a villain and end up on Earth where things are kinda s***ty for them. Pros: The story idea is interesting and unique. I didn’t like the art in issue 1 but it gets better. At first I didn’t care for the characters but So the first book I finished in the new year... I guess it’s good for it to be a 3-star book so I won’t expect 2018 to be a good or bad year for books. But Lemire only getting 3 stars... wow... What’s it about? A group of superheroes from a different world get in an accident when fighting a villain and end up on Earth where things are kinda s***ty for them. Pros: The story idea is interesting and unique. I didn’t like the art in issue 1 but it gets better. At first I didn’t care for the characters but I began to care about them more. My favorite character is Gail, poor Gail. This story can be humorous sometimes, again mainly because of Gail. Great ending! Holy crap, that ending! I absolutely love all the old school comic references, homages, parodies, etc. Cons: The first issue’s art wasn’t good. This story is surprisingly predictable which is odd. Lemire’s stuff is usually not predictable at all. There’s one issue (I think it’s #5) that is just weird, nonsensical filler that honestly felt like a chore to read. Maybe Lemire was drunk and had a deadline, that’s the only reason I can come up with for that issue existing. This is unfortunately pretty slow. Overall: This is sadly Lemire’s weakest work IMO. I will be reading volume 2, the characters are interesting enough and that ending was great. I just expected it to be better considering both the hype and the author. 3/5

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jack +Books & Bourbon+

    Well, it's been a long time since I read a comic book, but this one had been getting rather stellar reviews, so I figured I'd give it a shot. I get a somewhat "Watchmen" vibe from this, though not at the same level. It's more "adult" than standard comic stories, and a little subversive. Yes, it's still a superhero tale, except our heroes are essentially incognito and laying low. It's not a witness protection type deal, but they are somehow stuck on a farm in a rural community. And not all of them Well, it's been a long time since I read a comic book, but this one had been getting rather stellar reviews, so I figured I'd give it a shot. I get a somewhat "Watchmen" vibe from this, though not at the same level. It's more "adult" than standard comic stories, and a little subversive. Yes, it's still a superhero tale, except our heroes are essentially incognito and laying low. It's not a witness protection type deal, but they are somehow stuck on a farm in a rural community. And not all of them are happy about it. We don't get much in the way of a plot at this point, as we are essentially just learning the basics about these characters. And they truly do seem like fascinating people. Yes, you can see the similarities to more established superheroes, but somehow I think this tale is going to veer a little left of traditional superhero fare. So I am definitely intrigued to check out the next issue. I have no idea where the stories going to go, but I can't imagine it'll be anything but interesting!

  27. 4 out of 5

    GrilledCheeseSamurai (Scott)

    Jeff Lemire writing an indie superhero title in the vein of a Golden Age comic book? Yes, oh so very much, YES, please! All of Lemire's classic themes are here. Loneliness, desperation, isolation, and a dark and twisty sense of humor. Throughout the course of these first 6 issues, we slowly learn the backstory of our heroes and why they are who they are today. It's very engaging and keeps you turning the pages until there are no more pages left to turn. A wonderful first book in what promises to be Jeff Lemire writing an indie superhero title in the vein of a Golden Age comic book? Yes, oh so very much, YES, please! All of Lemire's classic themes are here. Loneliness, desperation, isolation, and a dark and twisty sense of humor. Throughout the course of these first 6 issues, we slowly learn the backstory of our heroes and why they are who they are today. It's very engaging and keeps you turning the pages until there are no more pages left to turn. A wonderful first book in what promises to be what could be some of Lemire's finest work yet. It's been added to my pull-list and I look forward to each issue every single month.

  28. 5 out of 5

    César Bustíos

    That was pretty damn good, really enjoyed it. Good characters and worldbuilding. After reading Descender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars I decided to go for more Lemire, he can really create good stories. That was pretty damn good, really enjoyed it. Good characters and worldbuilding. After reading Descender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars I decided to go for more Lemire, he can really create good stories.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    This was really just ok. A huge volume to try and get people interested but it didn't really reveal anything that makes me say this was great. No clue where this is going and with little substance for me to care.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    I read this a long time ago but I'm going to revisit the series. It's kind of what I wished the Umbrella Academy comic was (and what the show mostly is). It features really weird versions of superhero tropes we all know. The building blocks are familiar but the way Jeff Lemire puts them altogether is all his own. Definitely good counter programming to the stuff being produced by the big superhero publishers. I have a new device that I can do gifs from so here's one that's semi-related : https://ts I read this a long time ago but I'm going to revisit the series. It's kind of what I wished the Umbrella Academy comic was (and what the show mostly is). It features really weird versions of superhero tropes we all know. The building blocks are familiar but the way Jeff Lemire puts them altogether is all his own. Definitely good counter programming to the stuff being produced by the big superhero publishers. I have a new device that I can do gifs from so here's one that's semi-related : https://tse1.mm.bing.net/th?id=OGC.90...

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