Jeff Lemire's Black Hammer world is expanding a little more. Dark Horse comics announced Thursday afternoon it is releasing Barbalien: Red Planet in June. The five issue mini-series will serve as a prequel to the main Black Hammer story, featuring the titular alien character as he finds his way to Earth during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. The series features a creative team including Tate Brombal (The World of Black Hammer Encyclopedia) and Gabriel Hernandez Walta, the Eisner-winning artist of Vision fame.
When we spoke with Lemire last June, the writer confirmed at least three separate spin-offs from the acclaimed indie series were in the works. Since then, Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy, Colonel Weird: Cosmagog, and Barbalien: Alien Planet have all been announced.
"I think at the moment, we have three, maybe four other series in various stages of production," Lemire revealed. "Some of them pretty far along and being drawn and will be out soon, and then a couple of those that are just in the outlining, writing stages."
The writer added, "There's no real master plan at this point. It's just if a story feels strong enough and it's a story that really adds to the universe and says something different or I'm going to have fun doing it and get to work with great people and my schedule permits, I'll do it. Then we've just got to keep going like that for now and see what happens."
The full synopsis for Barbalien: Red Planet directly from Dark Horse can be found below.
"Mark Markz has found a comfortable life on Earth as both a decorated police officer and as the beloved superhero, Barbalien. But when Mark is suddenly thrust onto the frontlines of the AIDS crisis, his role as a cop raises doubts and he must now reckon with his own closeted sexuality. Growing tensions make balancing his disparate identities seem impossible—especially when a Martian enemy from his past hunts him down on Earth to take him home, dead or alive. Heroism, privilege, and complacency are all called into question, as Mark becomes more-and-more embroiled in the activism of the time and with the man leading its charge—the handsome and headstrong Miguel."