Holy crap. Black Hammer #3 was downright riveting and with nary an action scene. After spending Issue #2 getting to know the tragic tale of Gail, we now delve into Barbalien’s past, and it’s bittersweet as hell. Taking a page from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ famous series, Jeff Lemire titles this issue, “The Warlord of Mars,” which is smartly fitting in multiple ways: Barbalien’s home planet, the time period in which these types of serials were huge in comics, and the irony in how it deals with Barbalien’s political stance.
As we delve into his past, we see his loneliness. Seeing his personal story unfold also draws more clarity between his and Gail’s struggle in being stuck on this farm and Abe’s feeling of contentedness. The conflict in all this isn’t derived from super villains, but from the point of views of our characters. It doesn’t come from putting them in a heightened situation or saving the world, but from a deescalated situation in which they have to take a closer look at themselves. This is a superhero drama unlike anything I’ve read before.
I stand by my comment made in my review of the first issue that once the characters become fully formed, you should go back and read the issue again, and everything will come to life in a way that it didn’t for me the first time through. I can feel that happening already. Already, Lemire is spinning a soul-searching psychological story of regret, isolation, being different, and wanting something normal.
It’s surprisingly poetic and equally heartbreaking. If you’re going to start a new comic, I can safely say three issues in that this book will be one of the best titles on the shelves for some time.
Dean Ormston’s art is peculiar in just the right way. It’s atypical in a way that captures the emotional state of everything happening perfectly. Plus, Dave Stewart’s coloring is magic. He just finished the vivid House of Penance.
This is a book by pros at the top of their games. Don’t miss out.