Black Hammer #12 begins 10 years prior to the event that caused our heroes to go “missing”. We open with a former superhero known as Doctor Star speaking at a public event honoring Black Hammer and Spiral City’s missing heroes. He mentions that they gave their lives to defeat the Anti-God and stop the cataclysm. Spiral City misses these heroes. Doctor Star’s dialogue is incredibly touching. They leaped into action selflessly and without hesitation. These actions made these heroes worthy of their City’s admiration and emulation.
We see a young lady and her daughter at the remembrance and later find out it was Lucy Weber and her mother, the daughter, and wife of Black Hammer respectively. This issue focuses exclusively on Lucy and her mother and how Lucy dealt with not having her father in her life. We jump in time to different moments of Lucy’s life from her grade school years to her time prior to college. As you would expect from Black Hammer, it’s a wonderfully grounded and emotional story at its core. This issue works to fill in Lucy’s backstory and explains some of the events leading up to her eventually coming to the BLACK HAMMER farm.
This issue features a change of artist with David Rubin again handling art duties instead of Dean Ormston. David also handled art duties in issue 9. I can appreciate what David brings to the book. While I miss Ormston, Rubin’s art here is very emotive and the characters have extremely expressive facial features. In particular, the color and color design are standouts. We have moments later in the issue that features bright magenta and yellow that look absolutely beautiful. The storytelling is still effective and of a high standard. With the issue being almost completely focused on Lucy Weber and at different points in her life, this is a good issue to have Rubin. He doesn’t have to draw the rest of the Black Hammer universe characters in similar scenarios to what Ormston has, so he doesn’t have to really compete with Ormston. His work can stand on its own here. My only criticism is that many panels have a flat perspective and I would have appreciated more depth. Some readers used to more mainstream books may also not appreciate the quirky look that the issue has.
The writing is a lot more dialogue and exposition heavy compared to previous issues. That’s not to say that Black Hammer is generally heavy on action. It is generally a story and dialogue driven book, but with Ormston typically handling the art, we are shown many pages/panels where dialogue isn’t used and the visuals tell the story. I don’t know if this issue differs because of Rubin handling the art or if it’s simply how Jeff chose to script the issue (the dialogue is appropriate in its quantity). I did appreciate (the character) Black Hammer’s dialogue in a flashback scene with how it hints at how he got his technology. It references things not yet seen in detail in the series and makes this world seem even larger. This peaked my curiosity and I’m happy that plans to expand on this universe do exist, with the upcoming SHERLOCK FRANKENSTEIN AND THE LEGION OF EVIL book, also featuring the team of Lemire and Rubin. This issue serves as another preview of sorts for Rubin working with Lemire in this universe.
I have reviewed Black Hammer previously for Comic Crusaders and it still applies that this is a must-read book. Regarding this issue, once I got over the fact that Dean Ormston was not supplying the art, I allowed myself to become absorbed in this world and enjoyed the issue immensely. Black Hammer continues to be one of the most gripping books on the market. 4 out of 5 stars!
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by David Rubin
Published by Dark Horse