Updated: Jan 25
BLACK HAMMER/JUSTICE LEAGUE #1
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Michael Walsh
Letterer: Nate Piekos
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
I'll be the first to admit, I was pretty late at jumping on the BLACK HAMMER train. I was already a huge Jeff Lemire fan, but I somehow had kept passing BH by. Well needless to say, after reading it I instantly fell in love. Lemire created a new superhero universe filled with interesting characters that had similar qualities to some of the established heroes, of the ones they homaged, yet enough difference that they stood on their own.
But that's a conversation for another day. We're here to talk about BLACK HAMMER/JUSTICE LEAGUE, the cross-company crossover between Lemire's heroes (Dark Horse) and the famed Justice League (DC Comics). I've always been a fan of crossover comics, going back to when I was a little kid, JLA/AVENGERS is still one of the most epic crossovers in all of comics. So when they announced this book, I pretty much lost my mind. This seemed like the perfect idea, considering that so many of the Hammerverse heroes are analogues of DC heroes. Well guess what? It was everything you could have hoped for. With one line, Lemire not only assured me that this book was gonna be a good, but that it was gonna be great.
”Once upon a time, there was a man named Clark. He lived on a farm and he liked it there.”
Lemire begins the issue by introducing readers to the heroes of the Hammerverse (Abraham Slam, Talky-Walk, Barbalien, Colonel Weird, Dragonfly and Gail). He does it with such simplicity but at the same time gives new readers a clear sense of who these characters are. They're trapped on The Farm, away from their famed Spiral City, with no way to get home. It's here hat a mysterious figure walks up and offers to buy it. Enter Lemire's signature "weird". We no nothing about this mysterious charcter, only to be transported back to Metropolis where the Justice League are fending off an invasion by Starro.
While fighting off the invasion the League, minus Aquaman, Hawkgirl and Martian Manhunter (who are off dealing with another catatsrophe), encounter this strange man in their world as well. What does he offer the League? A chance at "relaxation".
Michael Walsh does a great job of using the subtle difference in color to differentiate the two universes. He also has uses two distinct styles for each universe. Pay close attention as the heroes switch places and you can see, with an expert subtlety, how Walsh suddenly makes the heroes look different as they switch universes. The dark and grey tones of the Hammerverse are a complete contrast to the bright and sunny colors of the DCU. His art catapulted this story from really good, to a masterpiece.
At the conclusion, we see the League transported to The Farm and the Hammerverse heroes transported to Metropolis. From here, who knows where Lemire will go. All I can say is, I'm all in on this strange and crazy ride.
This book not only serves as great first issue, but a great intorduction to the characters of both universes. More often than not, cross-company crossovers come off gimmicky, but this book puts that notion to rest. BLACK HAMMER/JUSTICE LEAGUE is done with an evident love for all the characters in both universes. Lemire and Walsh have created, what may perhaps go down as the blueprint to a successful cross-company book.