By Jeff Lemire, Max Fiumara, Dave Stewart, Nate Piekos
Doctor Star and The Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows #1 is another entry into Lemire’s ever-growing world of Black Hammer. It fleshes out the titular character in this issue with lots of back story and emotion. Lemire’s plotting and dialogue is, to the surprise of no one, spot on. Particularly interesting, though, is Fiumara’s art style. His lines over Doctor Star’s body make him look like a crumpled up piece of paper that someone tried to smooth out. It gives his character the appropriate sense of age, like he’s the veteran of wars both physical and emotional. Meanwhile, Dave Stewart, a Black Hammer staple, provides the antique colors of the series that pull the issue immediately back to the shared universe.
No part of this issue goes to waste narratively. We get an origin story for Doctor Star that reveals his motivations as well as a summation of his history as a hero. Lemire combines world building with characterization throughout the issue, showing how Doctor Star’s actions impact the world and his personal life. The two are intertwined with narration over flashbacks as well as developments in the present. When the timelines come together in the last few pages of the issue, Lemire leaves us with a question steeped in Black Hammer’s interests. What are the repercussions of a life devoted to superheroics?
Fiumara’s style suggests that there are many for Doctor Star, especially when working in tandem with Stewart. He’s a withering man when he first appears in the issue, contemplating what he once thought were his glory days. There’s a clear difference between Doctor Star the superhero in flashbacks and the one in the present. Stewart and Fiumara put Star through the gauntlet. His expression turns from hopeful to brooding, and the color of his hair and skin begin to fade into the background rather than stand out. Stewart’s palette depicts the past as bright, while the present is bleak. Scenes of Doctor Star in the now look as if they’re pulled from a noir movie, as they’re packed with greys and browns. Traditionally, the past would be black and white, while the present is colorful. Rather than only using the color as an indicator of time, Stewart uses it as an indicator of character.
In conclusion, Jeff Lemire is either a robot, or a horde of clones, given that he’s able to pen so many successful titles with so many talented artists such as Fiumara and Stewart. Doctor Star and The Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows #1 is a heartfelt issue looking to explore parental ties, obsession, and, potentially, retribution. By the end of the issue, Doctor Star himself is strongly characterized and given a strong sense of direction. Fiumara and Stewart develop empathy for the character and his situation with emotional colors and beautifully distorted figures. This series knows what it wants to do. The creatives show that on the page with deliberation. It’s a confident, compelling first issue.