Our Story Thus Far features a comic series that hasn’t completed its current story-arc, but we couldn’t wait to write about it because it’s so good.
Written By: Jeff Lemire
Art By: Dean Ormston
Published: November 16, 2016 by Dark Horse
I’m going to start this post off kind of backwards by stating: I. Love. This. Book. Seriously, everything about this comic just tickles me in my nerd-bags. If you aren’t reading it, do better because I cannot recommend this enough. If you like good comics, with clever ideas, and interesting characters, Black Hammer is absolutely going to do it for you. Now, a legitimate question you might be asking at this point is, “Uhh, that’s great you love it some much, but why should I care?” Well, I’m glad you asked because I’m about to go off on this series.
Black Hammer is a fairly new series by Dark Horse that follows a group of superheroes that have been trapped in this small, backwoods town. That might not sound super interesting but when you start to explore these characters, and the nature behind which they are trapped, what looks somewhat boring on the surface gets deep and intriguing quick.
First off, one of the heroes who’s sixty is now trapped in her nine year old body. Yes, you read that correctly. A sixty year old super hero lady has been trapped in her nine year old body, and she’s pissed. Beyond that, we have a space captain, the Colonel, that travels parallel dimensions but is also losing his mind. A ridiculously intelligent robot, Walky, that cannot explain, scientifically, how they are trapped. There’s a witch, Dragonfly, who’s nearly cutoff all interaction with her fellow heroes. There’s a martian, Barbalien, who was sent here to spy on us, but instead turned good guy hero. Lastly, and the only one who seems to embrace this trap, is Abraham, and even that appears to be a coping mechanism. All of these heroes, formerly gods among men types, are now trapped, with no explanation as to how, or why, and with seemingly no possible way of escape.
Those are the characters at play, and frankly I went into a small amount of detail there because the wild differences between them all is one of the most interesting aspects of this book. If you go back and look over that roster of heroes, there’s nothing similar about them. They’re nothing alike, and in this series, those dramatic differences in character plays into how each of them is handling the fact that they are helplessly trapped. It also allows us, the readers, to glimpse into their personalities and to get a feel for just how serious things are for each of them.
Thus far in the series we’ve been slowly developing the mental breakdown of each hero. In issue one we’re given the basic premise, how these heroes are trapped in this small town. Then over the course of the next four issues we watch as this seemingly impossible trap has them desperate for help, yet completely isolated from anyone or anything that might provide such. There is such a deep, almost creepy crawling, emotion to this book. For me personally, I can feel the anxiety of each these heroes as the helplessness drags them down, deeper and deeper into despair, with each book.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this story is that everything is equally simple and immensely complex at the same time. One one side we catch glimpses, tiny moments of this mental breakdown that each of our heroes is suffering. On the other side, we see them attempting to live normal lives, as best they can, within their invisible prison. They are the most powerful heroes in the world who have now been made into powerless hostages by a force even their smartest can’t explain.
These once unstoppable forces of good being brought down to normalcy, forced to live in monotony, all the while helplessly as the maddening of it all takes over. There a nearly tangible misery throughout each book, and you can feel the desperation of each person growing in each issue. Yet, as we move through the series, we the readers understand that they’re no closer to escaping than they were in issue one. Instead, we watch as each of these heroes mentally flashes back to a time when they were empowered to stop evil then abruptly pulled back to reality wherein they have become nothing. Of course, there must be more to this story than issue after issue of trapped heroes, and there most certainly is. In the latest issues we see that there is someone, beyond the small town, searching for our missing heroes.
Once that addition hit, this book solidified itself as a standout book for me. Once I, the reader, was given a glimpse that there’s hope for our heroes, even though they know nothing of it, I was all-in. The best part, and maybe my favorite part, is how neither side knows anything of the other. Our heroes have no idea that someone is working to find them, and the person searching for them has no idea they’re merely trapped somewhere. This simple disconnect dials up the conflict in this book to maximum because of the constant mystery now intertwined with the possible solution. Mix all of that up with a classic Golden Age comic feel and what we have is a series that I’m addicted to reading.
After finishing issue five, and seeing the serious trauma of the Colonel, aka the one who I call Space Captain, we’re driven even deeper into his maddening mind. We watch his origin as he’s pulled into the multi-dimensional space ranger role, and see the ties his Para-Dimension has into the real world. By the end of issue five I was losing my mind because of how much it takes our story up to a whole new level. Trust me on this one, if you’re not reading this..go do it and thank me later.