Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Black Hammer Reborn, Part II by Lemire, Ward & Sheean

Looking back over my posts on the vast Black Hammer saga, there's one thing that jumps out: I'm not actually that fond of derivative superhero stories, particularly ones without clear endings. You, Dear Reader, might rightfully ask: why do I keep coming back?

Well, it's fun to complain about things online, obviously. And Black Hammer stories let me sample some superheroic stuff without getting into the insane continuity tangles of the Big Two, or contributing to their bottom lines. And I do actually have a lot of respect for writer Jeff Lemire, even if I think he's massively slumming here. Plus a lot of interesting artists have worked on the series.

All that said, I am probably not going to be particularly complimentary to this fifteenth (!) collection of Black Hammer stories, Black Hammer Reborn, Part II. (Along with everything else, this is pure middle: the central third of a twelve-issue series, with no real beginning or end.) But, before I get into that, let me say that Lemire and his artistic compatriots - this time, Malachi Ward and Matthew Sheean; Ward also did the colors with Bryce Davidson as flatter - do solid work in the superhero mines, creating exciting pages of people punching each other and declaiming dramatic things and contemplating cosmic vistas and all that crap.

(Some potentially useful background links: the first Black Hammer story, the first part of Reborn, and the time a book called Sherlock Frankenstein triggered my loudest rant. A search for Black Hammer will bring up all my related posts, gawd help you.)

So: as we saw in the first part of Reborn, Lucy, the second-generation Black Hammer, is fortyish in the modern day (mid 2010s), having retired from the superhero biz around fifteen years ago for a reason that we see in this series. It's a big dramatic thing, of course: everything is a big dramatic thing in superhero comics. No one ever moves to Schenectady for the spouse's job, or gets really busy with the PTA for a while, or has that annoying lumbar issue and gradually realizes the whole superhero deal just isn't fun any more.

Meanwhile, the Big Bad of the series may be stirring, even though he was supposedly Destroyed Forever. Skulldigger, the Punisher-esque grim n' gritty '90s hero, and Doctor Andromeda, the Starman-esque Golden Age science hero, are both involved somehow, as is, inevitably, Doctor Weird. (Boy howdy is he involved, but I will not spoil the idea that Lemire has here stolen from Alan Moore.)

Oh, and it's Crisis time again! Because modern comics are All-Events, All-The-Time, every "core" Black Hammer story is actually about saving all of the worlds everywhere from final destruction. There is another Spiral City in the sky above "our" Spiral City, which is of course getting closer.

Superhero fans will be happy to see that Lucy is in-costume this entire book, after mostly being in civilian clothes in the first part, and that she hits a bunch of things with that big hammer. It doesn't resolve anything, since this is still all middle, but you do get a lot of pages of punching and clobbering and assembling and emoting, which is what you want, right?

It's not done yet, so it's not as disappointing as it could be. It's still all potential, which is the fun part of a superhero story: the moment before the big fight Changes Everything, never quite in the way that we were hoping. That all will be in Part III, I'm sure.

And, y'know, I'm pretty sure that Worlds Will Live, Worlds Will Die, Nothing Will Ever Be the Same, as usual. Until the next time.

No comments:

Post a Comment