Thus far in the Black Hammer series, each issue has focused on one character at a time with other character details spread out, and we’ve learned a lot about the team’s backstory. Pacing has been excellent throughout this entire series. In this issue, the focus is on Golden Gail, but I would say it feels like it’s split more evenly since each character has had ample time to develop.
In issue 8, we learn more about Golden Gail and the Golden Family she had created to replace her. Gail was tired of being a superhero towards the end of her run because she was old and it caused her to change into a child version of herself (think a reverse Billy Batson, Shazam). She wanted to live a real life, so she retired. She had been burnt out for a long time, so what she is going through on the farm and being trapped in a child’s body must be absolute torture. The final pages devoted to her in this issue add to her tragic story (and further explain her behavior) as we learn what she had been doing in her retirement and what she left behind. We also follow Black Hammer’s daughter, Lucy, who is now also trapped in the town/farm. Her focus in this issue is about trying to learn more about the town itself and finding a way out. Lucy is a good addition from a narrative standpoint as she reaffirms the state of the team and gives the characters and readers hope. A few pages are also devoted to furthering Barbalien’s relationship with Father Quinn. Finally, the issue ends on a major cliffhanger.
I like the cover, but it’s my least favorite of the series so far. It is still great, but the covers of the other issues have been absolute frame it and put on your wall art pieces, so this one comes across as not being at the same level. However, the minimal use of colors and the various facial expressions really make this cover pop. Dean Ormston’s art continues to be fantastic. The loose fabric costumes of the heroes look so wonderfully retro and beautifully designed. In general, the character art is detailed but simple, and the backgrounds are detailed enough. I particularly like the framing of the panels. They are cinematic, but not overly processed with various effects like a lot of modern titles.
I give this issue a 4 out 5 rating. However, I highly recommend this entire series. It has been incredible and expertly paced. It’s an extremely well written and drawn title that mixes mystery with touches of a Golden Age look and feel. The characters themselves are interesting homages on existing characters that make them familiar to you at first, especially if you are a long time comic book reader, but then the story takes them in an entirely different direction, which is grounded and told in a realistic, adult manner.
Script by Jeff Lemire
Art by Dean Ormston
Published by Dark Horse