Missing: 1 Steel-Driving Man

Black Hammer Volume 1: Secret Origins by Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, Dave Stewart. Dark Horse, 2017. 9781616557867. Collects Black Hammer #1 – #6. 152pp.

Ten years ago Black Hammer gave his life in the fight to defeat the Anti-God and save Spiral City. The rest of the heroes disappeared. They’ve been living in a small rural town that they can’t leave, trying to be normal. (They’re pretty sure it’s real.) Abe — their leader, the former Abraham Slam — is trying to have a relationship with a waitress, Tammy, but her ex, a local cop, isn’t making things easy. Golden Gail, a magical superwoman stuck in a 9-year-old’s body, is doing a poor job of pretending to be a little girl. Barbalien, a shape shifting Warlord of Mars, is struggling with a secret. Colonel Weird appears and disappears almost randomly, flowing in and out of the para-zone, a meta region of space that’s driven him insane. His robot buddy, Walky, is trying to find a way back to our universe. Oh, and there’s also a witch, Madame Dragonfly, plus back in our world Black Hammer’s daughter is trying to find the heroes.

Lemire says he started the project back when he was working on his insanely good Essex County, about life in small town Canada, and it shows — the town and its people feel realistic, and are a nice contrast to the big city heroes stuck there. Ormston’s art and Stewart’s colors really bring it all alive, particularly during flashbacks to the golden age of heroes in Spiral City. It’s yet another smart way to explore superhero tropes, and more evidence that Lemire is at the top of his game.

I highly recommend Lemire’s other recent work: Plutona (5 kids find a dead superhero in the woods), Roughneck (small town Canadian goodness along the lines of Lemire’s classic Essex County), along with Royal City and his run on Moon Knight. Good stuff.

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