Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Review - Quantum Age: From the World of Black Hammer #1 (@DarkHorseComics)


"Stop! I don't want to hurt anyone!"

For every story about superheroes, there's one that boasts of a world without superheroes. The two ends of the spectrum seem to define a good chunk of comics out there, but there's a lot of gray area in terms of how other characters react to the various scenarios. In Quantum Age: From the World of Black Hammer #1 from Dark Horse Comics, the characters' reactions tend to be a bit more optimistic at times. The issue is written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Wilfredo Torres, colored by Dave Stewart and lettered by Nate Piekos of BLAMBOT.

Set in the world of the Eisner Award-winning Black Hammer series--but a thousand years in the future--a collection of superheroes, inspired by the legendary heroes of Black Hammer Farm, must band together to save the planet from an authoritarian regime. A young Martian must find a way to reform The Quantum League to save the world while solving the riddle of what happened to the great heroes of the twentieth century.

Like many other tellings of the future, Lemire makes the one in Quantum Age: From the World of Black Hammer #1 pretty bleak. Lemire's approach though cuts through the dystopian nightmare by seeking out hope in the optimism of the Quantum League, the once vaunted group of superheroes. In fact, Lemire alternates (via flashback) between the present and the past when things started to go off the rails for the world as a means of showcasing the impact the Quantum League had. The narrative is funneled through the eyes of Trev Trevz seeking to reunite the Quantum League and his status as a martian touches on a very real (and scary) sense of xenophobia in the book that's hews a little too close to home. Lemire uses this angle as an amplification of the apparent distrust in those with powers.

Torres illustrates the book with a relatively simplistic approach. The linework is extremely clean, with Torres using the style effectively for rending the folds in clothes for instance. The Quantum League all boast a stoic appearance befitting their stature and allowing the reader to better understand their roles and responsibilities. The relatively sparse backgrounds are still detailed enough by Torres to help the reader get a sense of what's going on and the status of the world the character inhabit. Stewart's colors are subtle, emphasizing bright blues, greens and pinks throughout the issue.

Quantum Age: From the World of Black Hammer #1 has some deeper, societal themes running throughout it that address things like xenophobia, martial law and hope. Trev is looking for the Quantum League as a beacon of hope for the future based on their actions in the past, but many in the present aren't too keen on change. Lemire's script is pretty fast-paced and bounces back and forth in points in time to help set the stage for the events of the series. Torres' illustrations are sound and methodical, giving readers a great look at the world without the Quantum League. Quantum Age: From the World of Black Hammer #1 is a pretty ho-hum first issue that really plays in the Black Hammer universe more than anything else.

Quantum Age: From the World of Black Hammer #1 is available now.

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