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Black Hammer: Secret Origins

By Hervé St-Louis
October 4, 2020 - 13:53

What happens when a superhero team is seemingly caught in a small rural village and cannot escape like that the famous California Hotel? They become a family and the despair while trying to fit in with the locals and to figure out how to escape and find out what happened to their long-lost teammate. This is Black Hammer Secret Origins.

Jeff Lemire’s Black Hammer has already become a classic by fusing pulp nostalgia and the heroic allure of the Justice League in an original story that seems very familiar. What Lemire is saying is that the Justice League characters have become classic figures that are easy to adapt into other stories better than Marvel characters or those from other companies. It is apparent here with the Captain Marvel, Martian Manhunter, Adam Strange, pastiches used in this story.

In Secret Origin, there is still a mystery to be solved about who Black Hammer is, even though we know that he is the main hero of the series and that his daughter is looking for him. What we can read is how the various superheroes are coping with being stuck on a farm for eternity. This story explores their emotions and their fears, angst like only a Marvel comic could. That is very interesting as the clash between the DC pulp-like heroes and the Marvel-like drama.

Dean Ormston’s work fits the pulp and horror direction of the comic but does not do justice for the heroic parts. At this point in the story, it works but I am unsure about the second half of the Black Hammer saga. Having said that, Ormston’s work is great- looking and very expressive. His style fits Jeff Lemire’s style. The colouring is Vertigo-like with darker edges for mood. It fits the story though.

The reprint strategy for this comic is a bit confusing as the next volume prints issues 7-11, skips 12, and then prints 13. Why is that? Then, there is a rather expansive library collection that collects all 13 issues. Had I known this I would have skipped this purchase when I saw it at a comic store. Publishers need to think about how their releases strategy and how they play in the market.

Last Updated: January 24, 2022 - 11:00

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