By Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, Dave Stewart, and Todd Klein
As expected, the primary Black Hammer storyline takes a turn towards the unexpected in the debut new series, Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1. Picking up in the exact scene where the previous arc left off, there’s a clearly presumed series of events and hopes that Lemire dashes mercilessly and quickly. As a result, though, there’s a significant amount of setup for the new direction, which is primarily what this issue consists of. Typical of this series (in a good way), there’s a lot of sitting around and talking, which gives room for fun quips and small character details. There’s a meaty introduction that catches readers up on previous issues as well, so there’s no need to feel intimidated by the series.
Most people come to the series for Lemire, but they’ll stick around for Dean Ormston on art and Dave Stewart on colors. This book looks and feels like few others on the stands. It’s tactile. The team is never afraid to show a character look ugly, either in anger or in sadness. Ormston’s rendering pulls readers closer, providing an intimate understanding of each character’s unique struggle. The designs of these characters are magnetic as well. Just flipping through the pages, or gandering at the cover is worth the cover price. Ormston simultaneously calls back to an earlier time in comics and creates something new, especially in the later parts of this issue.
Stewart, meanwhile, provides much of the tone and timeliness of the issue, as he’s done consistently on the series. Without his work on colors, the book would likely feel incomplete. He lays faded layers on Ormston’s already fading characters and facades, lending to the overall sense of despair.
Lemire draws the mystery of the farm out even further in this series, entangling the heroes in an ever-growing conspiracy with potentially huge repercussions. Even though there have been thirteen issues filled with progress towards the same goal, it remains not only fresh, but exhilarating. Each small point has led towards the moments in this issue, in which it seems that the heroes have a newfound motivation to escape Rockwood, the prison masquerading itself as a farm town. Similarly, Lemire presents cooperation between the heroes that likely hasn’t shown itself since Anti-God’s attack. Even though they sit at a normal wooden table and their plans seem so simple, the scene’s implications are reminiscent of a team like the Justice League holding a meeting in the watchtower.
This series and its spin-offs are the definitive ‘daily life of a superhero’ comic. Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1 folds the mundanities of normal life into the responsibilities of being a superhero seamlessly. There’s no cheese, and no fluff. The series accepts the fact that heroes can’t separate their identities from their heroics, and has shown the characters’ slow realization of the same fact. With this comic, Ormston, Stewart, Lemire, and Klein begin another entry in one of superhero comics’ most intimate and emotional stories.
Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1 will be released on April 18th, 2018 from Dark Horse Comics