Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Black Hammer, Vol. 2: The Event by Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, David Rubin, and Dave Stewart

The thrilling pastiche continues! Everyone who cares read this series four years ago: I think I'm just catching up now because I'm a fan of Lemire's indy work and (possibly incorrectly) classified this as such.

Black Hammer: The Event collects another six issues [1] of the then-ongoing series Black Hammer, written by Lemire with art mostly by Dean Ormston. David Rubin draws one issue for a change of pace, and Dave Stewart colors it all in what I think of as the Dark Horse house palette.

This is all the same thing as the first volume: the story doesn't actually move forward at all. A shocking moment that was completely obvious and that I called out in my post on Vol. 1 actually finally happens on the last page of this book, which presumably will allow the actual story to start moving in the next volume.

What we do get, instead, are flashbacks. Flashbacks to the big fight with Darkseid the Anti-God, flashbacks to random eras in our heroes' lives, flashbacks to Black Hammer's career, flashbacks to things we saw in the first volume. We learn that Black Hammer is basically Thor as a member of the New Gods (Black Racer, more or less, I guess), to continue to show that every single character here is deeply unoriginal. We learn that Gail had a fulfilling sexual relationship with her super-nemesis, which is nice for her, I guess. We get Talky Walky's origin, and get it confirmed that Barbarlien is gay. (Well, that he prefers human men, I suppose - are sexual preferences necessarily consistent across different sapient races?)

It has become clear that "the event" was the Crisis-equivalent for this superhero universe, so that happened in the mid-80s and it's "now" the mid-90s. None of that is actually important to the story; it's all for being-like-the-source-material reasons. I am also amused that its name is the incredibly generic "the event," as if an overworked team of assistant editors couldn't be assed to think of anything better.

Maybe in the next book we will learn why two of the team members are keeping Shocking Secrets! from the rest, and maybe if they are actually keeping the same Shocking Secrets! as each other, too. (It will be funnier if they are keeping totally different Shocking Secrets!, since they seem to not talk clearly to each other, but I don't hold out much hope for that.) I'm sure it will turn out to have been ostensibly for everyone's own good, but that the secret-keepers will have been wrong for some subtle superheroic reason.

This is perfectly cromulent superhero yardgoods. If you're looking for vaguely '80s DC stories, and have already read all of the ones actually from DC in the '80s and/or prefer those vaguely '80s DC stories to be told in moody art and a modern, non-cringey writing style, this is very much up your street.

For anyone else, it looks a hell of a lot like masturbation.

[1] Seven to eleven, and then thirteen. My guess is that twelve is even more of a flashback and/or even more of a fill-in issue than Rubin's contribution here. I think it turns up in a later volume.

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