Jeff Lemire's Black Hammer world continues expanding its indie comic universe at Dark Horse Comics, this time with the release of The Unbelievable Unteens #1. While the primary Black Hammer storyline has always been about the deconstruction of superhero storytelling, Unteens ends up being the most meta this world has ever been, with Deadpool and Harley Quinn vibes never far from reach.
Without revealing too much and spoiling this issue, The Unbelievable Unteens follows the story of Jane Ito, a comic book creator who may or may not have been a superhero in a previous life. Throughout this debut issue, Ito deals with tabling at a comic convention, taking a train to the bodega to buy some Cup Noodles (or whichever ramen is available in Spiral City), and returning home before to get more interior work done on her comic. The life of the average comic creator, no?
As seen in the preview pages, Jack Sabbath returns from his time in Black Hammer: Age of Doom as a member of the eponymous team. He faces his biggest battle yet as he struggles to convince Jane of her previous crime-fighting life because, as it turns out, she used to be the light-based teen superhero Strobe.
The team itself received an entry in Lemire and Tate Brombal's The World of Black Hammer Encylopedia, and now they're slowly but surely coming to life. This first issue does a decent job of setting the stage for what readers can expect in the months to come. That said, it does move at a snail's pace, replacing action and villain-punching with suspense and tension. Luckily for fans of the franchise, that works well for a debut especially with Tyler Crook providing the artwork.
Tyler Crook returns to the Black Hammer Universe, having previously worked with Lemire on Colonel Weird: Cosmagog. Because of Crook's long-time horror roots, the line art and script are as cohesive as possible. While Crook can get plenty dark, there's still some levity in Unteens because it's not pure horror. Think somewhere along the lines of the Teen Titans meet the kids from Stranger Things with a little bit of The Sandman's Lucifer Morningstar sprinkled in.
The Unbelievable Unteens #1 begins to flesh out yet another corner of the Black Hammer world readers have yet to visit. In true Black Hammer fashion, it scales back on the classic superhero tropes by stripping these ideas down to their core so Lemire and company can hit hard on what works. On that front, Unteens is a peak-Black Hammer book. It never takes itself too seriously and has as much fun as one can have while existing as a comic. I don't want to call it "peak sequential storytelling" or anything quite like that, but you can definitely tell when creators are having a blast making a comic book—and that's abundantly apparent in the pages of Lemire and Crook's The Unbelievable Unteens #1.
Published by Dark Horse Comics
On August 11, 2021
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Tyler Crook
Colors by Tyler Crook
Letters by Tyler Crook
Cover by Tyler Crook