Jeff Lemire (script) and David Rubín (art and letters) must be having an absolute blast on Black Hammer. By exploring what they love most about Golden Age comics and the modern deconstruction of comic archetypes at the same time, they have made it a riveting book for this reader. Lesson: Write what you love. In this issue we get some more sci-fi romping about with Captain Weird and Talky-Walky.
You see, some of the great heroes of the Golden Age of Spiral City have been transported against their will to a strange farm and can’t pass beyond a certain radius of the central point or they will be obliterated. The great thing is we don’t just have a mystery; we have a multiple character study. Each stranded superhero has their own backstory and motivation. The amount of empathy for the characters in this book greatly exceeds any other book I’m currently reading.
Writers, take note at how Lemire handles so many characters while achieving this level of excellence. The biggest problem I have with Marvel comic team books is that equal time is given to every character in every issue. If a character hasn’t talked or done anything in a few pages, they are given dialogue or an action and it makes the books overtly congested. Things happen in a way that feel unmotivated. Quite frankly, writing like this is uninvolving. Lemire, on the other hand, has spread his characters out, spending entire issues on a single character, developing them and etching out their individual motivations and fears, so when we get back to an issue involving all of the characters, we understand everyone’s wants and desires to a greater degree, and their actions speak louder and their involvement is more fruitful to the story.
In this issue in particular, Rubín is having so much fun with the colors and how he uses lettering alone to create those crazy science fiction elements that come naturally with Golden Age tropes. It’s an absolute blast and absolutely heart-rending when we see how their lives play out in the present tense. To feel the loneliness and pain of our once heroes to this degree is a testament to the talent that has created this wonderful series.