By Jeff Lemire and David Rubin
Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil is a new book from the universe of Black Hammer. Those familiar with Lemire’s Eisner Award-winning series will immediately feel welcomed by the vintage style of Lemire’s writing and David Rubin’s pencils and colors. Nods are given to Black Hammer all the way to the last panel, to the point that this book will seemingly tie directly into the main title. That being said, Sherlock Frankenstein isn’t intimidating to new readers. Lucy Weber, the main character, opens by explaining who she is and even what her goals are in issues to come, all in a few panels.
It’s bluntly effective, but readers will be thankful for that when Sherlock Frankenstein quickly hits its stride. Characterization, storytelling, and world-building are all parallel, foregoing the slow pacing that first issues sometimes face. Weaving these together makes Lucy’s adventure compelling and fun in ways that only comic books can be. Superhero barbecues, names like “Cthu-Lou”, and a warm color scheme pierce through the more serious narrative.
At first glance it may seem like the art is directed at a younger audience, but the color scheme reveals the maturity Black Hammer readers are familiar with. Flipping through Sherlock Frankenstein reveals its greys and blues, signifying the general hopelessness after losing a band of superheroes, juxtaposing themselves against brighter oranges and purples, showing Lucy’s determination to prove everyone else wrong and find her father. Just like these colors battle for attention across the page, so does Lucy try to find hope in her bleak reality.
Lemire makes Lucy a genuinely fun character to follow. Her intelligence and empathy towards even villains garners respect. She’s easy to root for, until the artistic team introduces wildly entertaining new characters. A retired superhero turned prison guard, an android with a heart, and a ghoul who’s a fan of a late 90’s/early 2000’s pop singer all make up a cast that offers not only depth, but captivating designs. It’s a book demanding readers stop and not only read the words, but digest the images and the colors.
On a technical level, this book deserves praise for its transitions. Lemire and Rubin make the words and images flow together, even in complicated double-page spreads involving several panels worth of dialogue. The only real reason to backtrack is to stare at Rubin’s work for a while longer.
Though difficult to recommend to readers unfamiliar with the main title, Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil is more of what makes Black Hammer the Eisner Award-winner it’s become known as. At this point, it doesn’t spoil anything for fans who haven’t caught up, but it does promise to give more background as to how circumstances have come to the point they are now. Anyone who enjoys the mystery and character development of Black Hammer will find themselves right at home in this book.