Friday, October 20, 2017

Review - Sherlock Frankenstein & the Legion of Evil: From the World of Black Hammer #1 (@DarkHorseComics)


"...I need to get to work."

Being the child of a superhero or supervillain brings with it a wide variety of issues that one has to contend with. The superhero/supervillain surname automatically brings with it a lot of baggage and how the offspring handle that baggage is telling. In Sherlock Frankenstein & the Legion of Evil: From the World of Black Hammer #1 from Dark Horse Comics, Lucy Weber is looking to parley her baggage into answers. The issue is written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated/colored/lettered by David Rubin and flats by Kike J. Diaz.

Lucy Weber, daughter of the Black Hammer, grew up to become an investigative reporter for the Global Planet. Now she's on the hunt for the true story about what happened to Spiral City's superheroes after they defeated Anti-God and saved the world. All answers seem to lie with the dangerous super villain tenants of Spiral City's infamous asylum. As she gets closer to the truth she uncovers the dark origin stories of some of her father's greatest foes, and learns how they tie into the puzzle of what happened to Spiral City's greatest hero.

The way Lemire approaches Sherlock Frankenstein & the Legion of Evil: From the World of Black Hammer #1 is very engaging for the reader, primarily because the reader knows as little about the events as Lucy Weber does. Lemire's script essentially lets the reader tag along with Lucy as she seeks answers in regards to the Anti-God battle--filling in some blanks along the way. It's a great storytelling mechanism in that at no point does it feel like Lemire is holding the reader's hand. And considering how steeped in lore the characters are, Lemire does an excellent job of making everything accessible for all readers. The dialogue throughout the issue is Lemire's way of reminding the reader that they don't have to necessarily know what happened during that fight with Anti-God because enough characters allude to it that you get a sense of its magnitude (and consequences).

Coupled with the investigative tale is Rubin's illustrations which offer a touch of Lovecraft to the proceedings. Much of the issue is spent in Spiral City Asylum where Rubin gets to showcase a wide variety of individuals being sequestered as dangers to both themselves and society at large. One character in particular in Mectoplasm is illustrated as truly monstrous, with Rubin emphasizing his size and appearance to reinforce the notion that these aren't ordinary criminals. Panels sit cleanly arranges amidst empty gutters to keep the visual flow of the book simple. Rubin's colors are muted throughout to further a sense of the spooky, enforced by the flatting of Diaz.

Sherlock Frankenstein & the Legion of Evil: From the World of Black Hammer #1 is a somewhat low-key and somber issue in its tone, but what it achieves is far greater. Lucy Weber wants to know what happened to her father and along the way she'll likely learn a lot more about the life he led then she probably expected to learn. Lemire's tale is very tightly woven and gives the reader just enough information to be intrigued and have their curiosity piqued. Rubin's artwork is terrifying in a simplistic way in many regards, rendering a corner of Spiral City as relatively dark and moody. Sherlock Frankenstein & the Legion of Evil: From the World of Black Hammer #1 does a great job of establishing an atmosphere that is truly unique to the Black Hammer universe.

Sherlock Frankenstein & the Legion of Evil: From the World of Black Hammer #1 is available now.

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