Black Hammer is about stories: the stories we’re steeped in; the stories we’re trapped in; the stories that define us or that lie just out of reach of who we are; the stories that set us free; the stories that we tell ourselves; the stories that others tell us to make things easier; and the stories that we fight to live. While Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston dedicated a story arc in the main series of Black Hammer specifically to this meta-level storytelling, Visions takes our heroes of Spiral City and looses other creators upon them. In this case, Mariko Tamaki and Diego Olortegui approach this idea of shifting stories with some creative mischievousness. They take the family dynamic we’ve grown used to and drop them into different genres and archetypes all together. Seemingly, our center point to all of this is an unphased Captain Weird who is able to travel between alternate realities/stories.
There are multiple layers that are pulled back one after the next, our familiar faces taking on different roles and challenging our perceptions of them, all built around the idea of artifice. What are we to each other, really? What moment has defined who we are or who we feel we have to be to one another? It’s a pretty heady theme to wrap into a single issue, but it’s pulled out remarkably well, and with a keen sense of humor, especially if you know who these characters are. The cover does a wonderful job depicting where this story is about to take you.
Olortegui’s art is really fantastic, really diving into giving our characters very different body language, like Talky-Walky lounging is wonderful. I can’t imagine anyone not wanting their art to be colored by Dave Stewart. Each issue of Visions has been a win for the Black Hammer universe and for the sometimes surprising choices of creators behind each of them.
Let me say this: The design work is exceptional, giving some glue that helps to hold these differing visions together. The title page is this beautiful palette cleanser, like a roulette wheel that prepares you to be transported into something different, unique, and wonderful.
Creative Team: Mariko Tamaki (script), Diego Olortegui (art), Dave Stewart (colors), Nate Piekos of Blambot (letters), Daniel Chabon (editor), Chuck Howitt and Konner Knudsen (assistant editors), Ethan Kimberling (design), Josie Christensen (digital art technician)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
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