By Nolan P. Smith
(Victor Valley)– One of my favorite series of 2016 was Black Hammer. The series, by Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston, pays homage to some very familiar super hero roles, and examines them thoroughly. We see what makes each hero tick, and how he or she are holding up being stranded in a small town, isolated from the world. With the annual, Lemire is joined by a host of artists to spotlight each of the team members, shedding light on these tragic heroes.
The focal point of this annual is the bizarre, mysterious Colonel Weird, who spots an apparition of sorts going through the para-zone. This takes the once brave space explorer on a trip through time and space, which provides the reader some insight into the team. Chasing this entity, Weird sees Abraham Slam in his prime, Golden Gail before she became trapped in a body that continues to de-age, a look at Barbalien and his conflicted emotions, Madame Dragonfly’s first encounter with the team, and the Colonel coming face to face with a younger version of himself. The Weird meets Weird story, which features art from the fantastic Mike Allred, steals the show for me. Each artist does a superb job with the character their story focuses on, but Allred, with his one of a kind style, is the perfect fit for a Black Hammer tale.
This annual ties into the series perfectly, all while giving us more insight into this strange team. Even though each pays homage to a certain heroic archtype (Golden Gail: Shazam, Barbalien: Martian Manhunter, Col. Weird: Adam Strange, etc), its Lemire’s attention to the emotional side of these characters that makes the book tick, and makes our heroes have heart. If you aren’t ready Black Hammer, you are committing a huge disservice to yourself. This annual is a fantastic book that readies readers for when the book returns with the next arc.