Black Hammer #2 Review
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Dean Ormston
Colors by Dave Stewart
Letters by Todd Klein

Review by John Dubrawa

blackhammer2What made the first issue of writer Jeff Lemire’s new series Black Hammer shine was its varying characters and their individual tragedies. In this series’ second issue, one character becomes the focus, and the result is an issue that is every bit as good as the first if not better. Lemire is continuing to take the superhero genre and twist it ever so slightly, deconstructing and subverting expectations in simple yet clever ways. I don’t know if “superhero drama” is a viable genre category, but Black Hammer #2 continues to prove that such a narrative can and should exist.

Golden Gail sees center stage in this issue and her origin is an all-too familiar one:  child gets turned into a superhero through the use of a magical word. Lemire deftly turns the tables on the reader with a more tragic bent to this flashback that starts the issue, crafting the story of a conflicted woman that wants to age but must constantly revert back to a child’s form in order to harness her granted abilities and save her city. It’s only a few pages of backstory but it’s enough to shed a lot of light on Gail in the current story, who is now stuck inside that child’s body without the powers and desperately wants to escape. There’s still the ever-present mystery of how and why all our heroes are stuck where they are, and a few lines of dialogue from other team members in this issue serve as proverbial breadcrumbs to what might be happening. One character in particular seems to have a psychic gift that may come in handy later on down the road. Hmmmm…

Dean Ormston’s art continues to be a well-crafted mix of the macabre and golden-age pulpy goodness, which lines up perfectly with the concurrent story Lemire is telling. Dave Stewart’s colors match the tone as well, creating a color palette from oranges and yellows during Gail’s hayday moments that quickly revert to darker tones in the present day. Letterer Todd Klein adds his own layer of tragedy to the speech bubbles, contrasting the enthusiasm of Gail’s one-word transformation cry during the flashbacks to her desperate cries of the word in the present. This art team is just on point across the board.

The Verdict

Buy. Black Hammer #2 is a remarkable issue that narrows its focus down on one central character but never loses sight of grander tragedy at play here. Dean Ormston’s artwork continues to be a tremendous asset to this book as the highs and lows of these former heroes is being perfectly drawn into each scene. It’s not too late to get in on Black Hammer, so do it already.

John Dubrawa

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