Black Hammer #8 Review

Posted April 18, 2017 by Jean-Luc Botbyl in Comic Books

Written by: Jeff Lemire

Art by: Dean Ormston & Dave Stewart

Published by: Dark Horse

The first six issues of Black Hammer were among the best commentaries on modern superhero comics I’ve ever read. The last issue–#7–was a bit of a letdown and felt like an interlude rather than a new installment in the story. It was an opportunity to dump a bunch of exposition, and as a result, it wasn’t quite as engaging as I’ve come to expect.

Fortunately, Black Hammer #8 turns that around. It’s a return to the character-oriented merging of flashbacks and modern events that made the first arc so exceptional.

As per usual, Gail is the highlight of the book. Lemire spends a decent portion of this issue giving us even more of her backstory and solidifying her as an incredibly tragic character. Her story, even as a superhero, is one that deviates incredibly from established norms. The Captain Marvel inspiration is still there, but Lemire has twisted it to the point of subversion. It’s profound, considering how much I’ve come to care about her.

The transitions from the flashbacks to the current era continue to add resonance to the book. Time periods switch at just the right moment to ensure maximum emotional impact. It makes for some truly excellent storytelling.

Aside from a quick couple pages with Barbalien, the rest of the issue spends its time with the titular Black Hammer’s daughter, a new addition to the cast. As a character, she’s interesting enough, though I’m not as immediately invested in her as I was with the rest of the cast. She seems more like a vehicle to explore the mystery of why the characters are stuck in Rockwood.

The tension, at this point, is palpable. It feels we’re just around the corner from a massive, Earth-shattering reveal. And we kind of get one in this issue, but the way it ends really just expands the mystery.

As per usual, the art team of Dean Ormston and Dave Stewart knock it out of the park . Ormston really brings the characters to life, capturing facial expressions perfectly. The style and colors are still a little muted, but it feels intentional, designed to capture the tone of the book. Interestingly, there doesn’t seem to be much differentiation between the eras, at least visually. It’s a weird change, and I don’t know that it’s a good one.

Black Hammer #8 does lay to rest most of my concerns coming out of issue #7. It’s back to being great, which I guess shouldn’t be a huge surprise considering the precedent it set with the first six issues. More people should be reading this book.

About the Author

Jean-Luc Botbyl

Jean-Luc is a grizzled veteran of We the Nerdy. Most days, he just wonders why he hasn't been formally fired. Follow him on Twitter at @J_LFett to make him feel validated.