BLACK HAMMER is the latest entry in the fish-out-of-water superhero story. For this first issue, Jeff Lemire tries out a bunch of scenes with his cast of misbegotten superheroes. And the twist at the end of this first issue, should leave you wanting more. Dean Ormston’s artwork compliments Lemire’s script with a light and ethereal quality similar to Lemire’s own artwork. And Dave Stewart rounds out the core creative trio with plenty of those spot on atmospheric colors: autumnal oranges and sunset pinks. Where all this is headed is still unclear but the overall offbeat quality is winning me over.
These are superheroes with a Golden Age vibe to them. The real deal type. And it fell upon them to make some big sacrifices they’d all rather not talk about. But talking things out is good, right? That’s what Abe would say. Of course, Gail would never listen. And Barbalien would just laugh. There’s this one scene where Gail, who happens to be stuck inhabiting a 9-year-old, goes off to sit and brood on a rooftop. Along floats by Barbalien looking like this really big demon. He plops next to Gail and the two of them chat. It’s a good scene but it reminded me way too much of the sitcom, “3rd Rock from the Sun.” You know the show? It has a similar premise: aliens from another world stuck on planet Earth. You can imagine Joseph Gordon-Levitt up there on the roof with a hoodie feeling bad about himself and then John Lithgow comes out to join him.
I don’t think it’s such a good idea for this script to resemble a sitcom too much unless we’re heading down a particularly ironic path. There’s also a scene with ole Abe going into town to see his sweetheart, a waitress at the diner. That too has a squarely sitcom quality to it. I am willing to see where this goes. Then there’s Talky-Walky. He’s a robot determiend to invent a way to get off the island…uh, I mean planet. I sense that Lemire really wants to be very playful. So, if you’re in the mood for something whimsical, and ironic, this may end up adding up the further along you go past this first issue.
BLACK HAMMER is available as of July 20, 2016. For more details, visit Dark Horse Comics right here.
Jeff Lemire is known for his quirky vision. Well, for this project with Valiant Entertainment, he gives us a washed-up grunt who was once the deadly assassin, Bloodshot. In Lemire’s hands, Valiant’s Bloodshot is truly reborn.
Lemire writes it and shares the artwork duties with Mico Suayan. All in all, it is a satisfying offbeat story placing a broken man in direct contrast with the large-than-life force that he used to be. And this sets the tone for the big guy’s return back into the game.
What will set something like this apart requires a great leap of faith since we’ve been down this road before. If the creative team is committed to the project, then readers will respond. The fact is, these type of adventures do sort of write themselves up to a point. You need the vision that Lemire can bring to make it special.
You’ve got all your goodies here: a lone wolf character who has been controlled by Project Rising Star, a shadow government agency. He was known as Bloodshot, all white skin and red eyes, like the scariest ripped clown you’ve ever seen. And all these little nano robots flowing through his bloodstream keeping him alive and in line. And then he escapes. And that wasn’t so good as life off the grid usually goes. But there was that one woman, Kay, the Geomancer, who believed in him.
Take all this Valiant universe stew and let it simmer for a bit. And here’s where you add the quirk. Bloodshot goes incognito. He ends up in the middle of nowhere in Colorado. He takes the name Ray Garrison and now works as the facility guy at the Red River Inn. He sort of becomes friends with Gene, the widower, and her grandson, 12-year-old Toby. But the whole time, he knows something has got to give.
Before too long, things do fall apart. Before we end this first issue, our hero is way in the thick of trouble. And what gets us there is done with good pacing and a certain style. And that’s because a decent story does not write itself! I think Lemire is on to something with his take on Bloodshot. The whole look of the comic is very promising. So far, it has that type of staying power that reminds me of a good Ed Brubaker pot-boiler.
BLOODSHOT REBORN #1 is available as of April 15. For more details, visit our friends at Valiant Entertainment right here.
Image Comics returns to Seattle for this year’s Emerald City Comicon on Friday, March 27 through Sunday, March 29. You can expect an impressive assortment of creator-owned panels, signings, and con exclusive variant covers like the one above for DESCENDER #1 by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, priced at $5 (#Y-05, also available at Image booth #312). DESCENDER is about a young robot’s struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet. Read my review here.
Here’s a rundown on Image Comics variant covers at ECCC:
VARIANTS SOLD AT THE IMAGE BOOTH (#312):
LOW, VOL. 1 hardcover by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini, $35
THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #9 by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, $5 (also available at creator table #II-06)
DESCENDER #1 by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, $5 (also available at creator table #Y-05)
VARIANTS SOLD AT CREATORS’ TABLES:
SEX CRIMINALS, VOL. 2 hardcover by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky, $40 (Table #II-04)
WAYWARD, VOL. 1 hardcover by Jim Zub and Steven Cummings, $30 (Table #HH-11)
DESCENDER #1 by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, $5 (#Y-05, also available at Image booth #312)
INVISIBLE REPUBLIC #1 by Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko, $10 (#HH-05)
WAYWARD #6 variants by Jim Zub and Steven Cummings, starting at $5, blank sketch covers for $10 or $25 with sketch (Table #HH-11)
THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #9 by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, $5 (also available at Image booth #312)
Gilad has great powers, really great powers, as The Eternal Warrior. But his arch-foe is just as powerful. Hey, he might even be Satan or pretty high up there. He’s The Immortal Enemy. And these two have been duking it out for coming on, what, ten thousand years? That’s pretty long! Well, Gilad is a proud fella and pride never goes out of style.
But Gilad is struggling to adjust to the 21st century. He just might be due for an oil change and a new sidekick. Enter a new breed of Geomancer, this is a young blonde who might have let her alias get the better of her. That will happen when you start to believe your work in public relations is actually real work. This time, the eternal battle is going to require something more. This time, they’re going to need The Valiant!
If you’re new to the Valiant universe, this is a perfect time to dive into an epic story from New York Times best-selling writers Jeff Lemire (Green Arrow, Animal Man) & Matt Kindt (RAI, Mind MGMT) and Eisner Award-winning artist Paolo Rivera (Daredevil). All systems go. Everything here is smooth and appealing. You’ve got your epic battle and a nice mix of humor, intrigue, and adventure. Sounds like a sweet deal.
“The Valiant #1” is available as of December 10. For more details, visit our friends at Valiant Entertainment right here.