It is about time I got around to reviewing the 2017 Eisner Award winner for best new series, Black Hammer. Written by none other than my favourite comic scribe, and constant hero of the Green Onion Blog, Jeff Lemire. Funny, I put this book off because I worry that you, the readers, are sick of me fan-boying all over Lemire. I figure though, if I am gonna do it, I should go all out. Black Hammer was a cannot miss for me, and potentially the greatest Lemire series yet. Let me tell you why-
Back in 2008, an indie comic was hitting the market and changing the game of graphic novels, and Canadiana. Essex County. Creator Jeff Lemire was quickly gaining a following across the nation, and in major comic circuits. However, he, and potentially many of us never assumed he would make the leap into mainstream comics. Lemire started work on his own superhero tale, with the idea that he would never write characters like Wolverine, Green Arrow, Teen Titans, Hawkman, X-Men, Hawkeye, Animal Man, Moonknight, or Plastic Man. Well, Lemire quickly staked his claim in all of these heroes, and more. So, his indie super hero book sat on the back burner. Stewing. Brewing. Until nearly 20 years later when Black Hammer became a reality.
Lemire being the busy machine he is, needed to enlist an artist for this added project. Enter Dean Ormston. Ormston is a popular penciller with decades of experience. He has worked on titles such as Judge Dredd, Sandman, and Predator, and worked beside some of the biggest names in the field e.g. Alan Grant, Neil Gaiman, or Si Spencer. Ormston’s indie style is a match of perfection for Lemire’s homegrown tales.
Black Hammer began its monthly releases in July ‘016. Garnering the attention of readers and critics everywhere as a brilliant commentary on the super hero genre. As I mentioned, Black Hammer won the ‘017 Eisner Award for best new series joining an exclusive list of books like Powers, Saga, Fables, Astro City, or Lumberjanes. The credits also include a couple Eisner Award winners of their own rights, colourist Dave Stewert, and letterer Todd Klein.
The events of Black Hammer take place after a cataclysmic event, where the heroes of Earth banded together to defeat the powerful Anti-God. Years later and a group of supers have been stranded in a sort of time-loop. Destined to live their days out in the same small town forever. The collected first 6 issues focus on one of these heroes at a time, with an overall plot that ties them together. Each unique hero is a play on a classic like Captain Marvel or Captain America. The darker, more emotional themes take the genre to entirely new places. Where these heroes are forced to live together, in a small town that doesn’t need them.
The characters are deeply layered- exactly what I would expect from Lemire- like Col. Weird, who is stuck in a dimension between dimensions and is slowly losing his mind. This book shies away from nothing whether it is a fourth grader swearing and smoking, or a powerful alien who is a closet homosexual. There is much to be unravelled yet, but this introduction to these characters has solidified the series as a must read.
Lemire is on top of his game when he gets the chance to write the story he wants. The ten year brewing process of Black Hammer was well worth the wait. I cannot wait to read further, and may possibly have a contender for my favourite ongoing series. 5/5, I recommend this series to any fan of comics in any genre. Black Hammer volume one has set the stage for a ground-breaking commentary on all the comics you’ve read thus far.
Thanks booknerds, and thank you Jeff Lemire for another piece of literary gold.