It's officially been more than two years since the core Black Hammer series has added a new title. In the meantime, we've received a handful of spin-offs, including Barbalien: Red Planet, Colonel Weird: Cosmagog, and Skulldigger & Skeleton Boy. Now, the franchise's primary narrative progresses in Black Hammer: Reborn from writer and Black Hammer co-creator Jeff Lemire and artist and Black Hammer newcomer Caitlin Yarsky.
Before moving forward too much, let's think back to where Black Hammer left off. After the initial 12-issue Black Hammer series, Lemire rolled out Black Hammer: Age of Doom, and it's here the main group of heroes seemingly returned to The Farm for good. By the time Black Hammer: Reborn picks up, no trace of characters like Abe Slam, Golden Gail, or even Madam Dragonfly remains. In fact, Reborn launches Black Hammer 20 years into the future from the point in time Age of Doom wrapped up.
In typical Lemire fashion, he closely follows standard tropes before putting his own spin on things—his own spice, if you will. So what's that mean here, exactly?
In Reborn, readers follow Lucy Weber after she's given up the Black Hammer mantle for good, and it's here that classic Lemire writing begins to shine through. At its very core, Black Hammer is an expert deconstruction of the superhero genre. It's a superhero world for people tired of superheroes, a title that looks to break the norm while paying tribute to the very stories that made sequential storytelling great in the first place.
Lucy Weber was once the world's greatest superhero, so in this world, it only makes sense she hangs it all up. If you've been keeping up with all things Black Hammer, it's the most obvious decision to make. Luckily, this story's master execution manages to propel this story past expectations.
You have the world's most powerful hero, and you make her perfectly human. You give her a family. You give her an unfaithful husband. You give her a dead-end job at some office building where the incandescent roasts your eyeballs from the inside out.
That's only the beginning.
By the time you close the back cover of Reborn #1, you arrive at the realization this is the culmination of every Black Hammer story published so far. You have the heart of Black Hammer, you have Para-Zone funkiness, and you have bleedover from Skulldigger. There's even a cameo from Dr. Andromeda that will likely leave you quite... shocked.
To cap it all off, Caitlin Yarsky comes through with some incredible work. You've got a style reminiscent of a standard Big Two cape book with some added flair that makes this comic its own. Towards the end of the issue, there's a panel or two involving Lucy Weber and her husband where Yarsky utilizes interesting angles and perspective tricks to make the gut-wrenching script that much more impactful.
Black Hammer: Reborn #1 has nearly everything a fan of this world could ask for. There are crossovers and surprises galore, and this issue feels like it's just the tip of the iceberg. Most importantly, however, the comic stays true to itself. It stays true to the Black Hammer creed. It falls in line tonally with the stories that have come before it while propelling the narrative forward for the first time in years. It manages to find a perfect balance between character and story, giving readers enough character beats to get invested and enough of a plot to keep you interested.
Published by Dark Horse Comics
On June 23, 2021
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Caitlin Yarsky
Colors by Dave Stewart0comments
Letters by Nate Piekos
Cover by Caitlin Yarsky