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'Black Hammer' has Lemire return to his roots

'Black Hammer' has Lemire return to his roots

The new series written by Jeff Lemire with art by Dean Ormston will feel familiar to those with a passion for Lemire's past works like Essex CountyThe Nobody and Lost Dogs. It's grounded, emotional series - which is no small feat given it's inter-dimensional, superhero team storyline.

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Black Hammer was Lemire's original superhero story, long before he ever imagined writing some flagship titles for DC and Marvel. While working on Essex County, his breakthrough tome telling the multi-generational story of a family in rural Canada, he was still working part-time as a cook trying to make ends meet. The initial sketches and plotlines for Black Hammer were conceived more than a decade ago and before the opportunity to write Sweet Tooth for Vertigo became a possibility, Black Hammer had been to pitched to Dark Horse - and they accepted. Lemire always knew that he'd return to the universe he created - where five super-powered people unite to stop a cataclysmic event in Spiral City, only to find themselves banished to a far corner of another universe where they are trapped together on a farm, unable to return to their former lives. After forty issues of Sweet Tooth at Vertigo, Lemire signed an exclusive deal with DC which led him to write his own spin on popular series like Animal Man, Swamp Thing and Green Arrow. His interpretations of the popular characters were some of the most enthralling mainstream superhero comics in recent memory, but as a reader it was still a step back to see such a talented creator pushing longtime characters forward when his own characters were the ones I really wanted to read. After his time at DC, he nearly immediately signed a contract with Marvel and did his same magic with some of their characters.

After the exclusivity period at Marvel, fans were treated to the Trillium limited series, a mind-warping time travel romance story and the beginnings of his Descender series with artist Dustin Nguyen. By the time Lemire finally thought he had the time to make Black Hammer a reality, he realized he didn't have the time to both write and series and create the art. In 2011, Lemire met Dean Ormston at a convention in England and immediately thought his art would be the perfect fit for Black Hammer. He passed on his initial character sketches and ideas to Ormston who began developing his own versions of what would end up being the final characters. Ormston's work on the series is far removed from the mainstream depiction of superheroes and is a breath of fresh air, just like Lemire's story itself. Almost all heroics are depicted in flashbacks, as the story picks up after the characters have been stranded out of their home timeline for over ten years. The characters were never a team before the events that brought them together, but since then, they've become a family. Patriarch of the group, Abraham Slam, has adapted most to making the best of the situation. Golden Gail, whose powers manifest when she speaks a magic word and transforms into a super-powered youthful version of herself, became permanently trapped in a child's body in the event that transported them to the farm and has had a harder time adjusting. Each character, however outlandish their names, powers and appearances from their Golden Age inspirations are fully developed, real characters with feelings, stress and emotions. Jeff Lemire's own superhero book the best superhero book he could be a part of. While we had to wait a decade for it to become a reality, Black Hammer was worth the wait.

August 5th is 'Buy Indie Comics Day'

August 5th is 'Buy Indie Comics Day'

Inside 'Boundless' by Jillian Tamaki

Inside 'Boundless' by Jillian Tamaki