Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1
Written by Jeff Lemire
Drawn by Dean Ormston
Colors by Dave Stewart
Letters by Todd Klein
It’s been a little over six months since Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s first Black Hammer series ended on a massive cliffhanger. The series, about a team of superheroes trapped on a mysterious farm for the past ten years, is equal parts sci-fi mystery and love letter to the history of cape comics. Tie-in series like Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil and Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows have fleshed out the world of Black Hammer in the interim, and the main series returns this week with a new first issue and a new sub-title. Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1 picks up right where the previous series left off, and Lemire and Ormston don’t miss a bit.
The heart of this series has always been the characters and how they react to their given situation, and that’s no different here. In a moment when answers to the overarching questions of the series are finally within reach, Lemire and Ormston take a sharp turn and give the characters a chance to react to what they’ve learned and what they need to do next. Their confusion mirrors that of the reader, who may have expected explanations or some sort of showdown based on the previous series’s cliffhanger and instead found only more questions. It’s a great tactic, and it really draws the reader in effectively.
With new mysteries come a new location for one of our heroes, and an opportunity for Ormston and colorist Dave Stewart to shine. The Anteroom looks unlike anything else seen in the series so far – dark, dingy, and filled with the weirdest assortment of creatures yet. The amount of little details for the reader to take in makes the Anteroom a striking location, while thematically it’s a nice expansion of the universe of the series, bringing in aspects of the British Invasion of the mid- to late-’80s, and of the horror-infused stories that came with it. While series like Sherlock Frankenstein and Doctor Star have helped to build out the existing landscape of the series, it’s great to see the main title branching out even further in new directions.
Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1 is a great comic that builds on and expands the mythos of the series in exciting ways. As a jumping on point for new readers it’s also fairly accessible, with a text page that explains what’s happened up until this point. That said, readers will likely get more out of it having read the previous series, and it’s well worth the time to go back and enjoy that as well. I personally came to this series late, reading through all of the first series and the tie-in series in a matter of weeks, and every page is excellent. I’m thrilled to see what else Lemire, Ormston, and Co. have in store.
Joe Grunenwald is a writer and editor living in the Pacific Northwest. He’s taller than a lot of people but not as tall as some people.