Black Hammer 1: Secret Origins

black hammer volume 1 secret origins cover
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 1/10

Great start to an interesting series

More interesting for comic book fans who know the genre

Comic Info

Comic Name: Black Hammer

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Writer: Jeff Lemire

Artist:  Dean Ormston

# of Issues: 6

Release Date: 2017

black hammer #1 cover justice league variant

Black Hammer #1 Variant

Reprints Black Hammer #1-6 (July 2016-December 2016).  After a battle to save the world, Golden Girl, Barralien, Abraham Slam, Madame Dragonfly, Colonel Weird, and a robot named Walky find themselves trapped in a small farming town of Rockwood.  Unable to leave, years pass and the former superheroes learn to accept their surrounding and hide their abilities…but getting home still is on their mind.  Ten years is a long time to remain in a small town and the Black Hammer farm is about to change.

Written by Jeff Lemire, Black Hammer Volume 1:  Secret Origins is a Dark Horse Comics post-modern superhero comic book collection.  Featuring art by Dean Ormston, the series was released to positive reviews and issues in this collection have been collected in other volumes including Dark Horse Number Ones and Black Hammer Library Edition—Volume 1.

I like Jeff Lemire’s work and I love series like Astro City and Top Ten which explore the inner workings of comic books and superheroes in everyday life.  With Black Hammer, you get those type of stories and it is wrapped in a nice little mystery as well.

This volume of Black Hammer introduces the major players.  The characters are thinly veiled versions of primarily DC superhero comics and with a little tweaking become reflexive versions of those comics.  Many of the characters origins are so close to their original counterparts that to call them an “homage” isn’t accurate.  It is self-aware and essentially Lemire playing with some of DC’s rather less famous characters like Adam Strange, J’onn J’onnz, and my favorite character decision…a horror comic host like Cain, Abel, or Eve.  It is a fun convergence of classic comic and high concept storytelling.

black hammer #6 cover variant madame dragonfly

Black Hammer #6 Variant

I do like Dean Ormston’s art, but I wish that Jeff Lemire had the time to illustrate the series.  Lemire has such a strange style, and I will say that of artists to bring his vision to paper, Ormston is a good choice because they do look similar.  The whole story is just odd and there is a lot of mystery wrapped up in Ormstron and Lemire’s telling of it.

This collection doesn’t give you a lot of answers and only hints at what is actually happening.  Other than the Colonel Weird issue, the writing manages to do that while still telling rather coherent story.  It is some of the ambiguity to the story and the mystery which keeps you wanting more…why can’t the characters leave the town, how (and when) is Colonel Weird living, and what is Madame Dragonfly up to are all questions you want answered.  This is combined with a hearty dose of classic soap-opera-esque relationships.

Black Hammer is a fun read and more rewarding to fans of comics more so than to casual readers.  The series has a lot of potential and this volume feels like it has only scratched the surface of the bigger story.  It might not have an A to Z plotline as it is collected here, but it is a great start.  Black Hammer 1:  Secret Origins is followed by Black Hammer 2:  The Event.

Related Links:

Black Hammer 2:  The Event

Black Hammer 3:  Age of Doom—Part 1

Black Hammer:  Streets of Spiral

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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