Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Review - Black Hammer: Age of Doom (@darkhorsecomics)


"...I remember everything! I know where we are!"

Superhero team-ups are nothing new, but the cause for their coming together can be. In the case of the seemingly misfit superheroes in Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1 from Dark Horse Comics, their time together is focused on one objective: getting the hell out of their current situation. The issue is written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dean Ormston, colored by Dave Stewart and lettered by Todd Klein.

Picking up immediately where we left off--Lucy Weber has become the new Black Hammer and right as she's about to reveal to our heroes how they got stuck on the farm and can escape she vanishes. Now our new Black Hammer finds herself trapped in a gritty world filled with punk rock detectives, emo gods, anthropomorphic humans, absurdist heroes, and many more weirdoes, in a mad world in which there is no escape!

Lemire scripts the issue as one of two tales that occur seemingly in parallel yet with a direct influence on one another. On the one hand, the new Black Hammer finds herself trapped in a hellish new world with no clue how to get out while the rest of the crew are trying to get her out. Lemire juggles the two plot threads delicately, deftly bouncing back and forth between the two in an effort to find an equilibrium of sorts to keep things moving. And despite the yo-yoing between threads, Lemire manages to keep the pacing consistent throughout the issue, refusing to let either bog down the reader in the minutia of each storyline. Lemire's dialogue is extremely entertaining and slick as well, providing the characters with an abundance of personality--all of which meshes well together.

The gritty and non-refined artwork by Ormston is a great fit for the script, primarily because it does enough to let the reader know what's going on without being overbearing. Ormstom's style is defined by the absence any lines really, giving the characters shape through context against the backdrops. And speaking of backdrops, the way he illustrates the Anteroom is pretty eerie, primarily because it wears its haunted house influences on its sleeve and is unapologetic about it. Stewart's colors are easily recognizable and add an appropriate sense of the macabre where necessary. Klein also does some great things with the lettering that has a positive impact on impressing upon the reader the emotions going through some of the characters at certain points in the story.

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1 does require something of an investment in the Black Hammer series and isn't really meant to be read cold-turkey. Otherwise, the reader might have a difficult time figuring out why exactly the new Black Hammer disappearing is a big deal and why the others all want to get out of their current situation. That being said, Lemire does a fantastic job of sticking within his mythos for the series, offering another solid entry. Ormston's artwork is a great match for the story's theme and plot, leaning on some pretty creative looking characters. Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1 continues the plight of a group of seemingly incompatible friends as they struggle to find their way back to where they call home.

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1 is available April 18.

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