Black Hammer: Age of Doom #2
Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artists: Dean Ormston
The critically-acclaimed Black Hammer saga continues in Age of Doom as Black Hammer’s daughter takes up her father’s mantle. While the finely woven mystery and drama of the previous series are at the forefront, Jeff Lemire has literally added a few new dimensions to Black Hammer. Just as Black Hammer announces she knows how to get everyone home, she’s whisked away to an interdimensional dive bar. Dean Ormstron’s illustration of the types of musical guests one could expect to see at such a venue doesn’t disappoint. The tone of the panels shifts from bucolic Rockwood to frenetic fight sequences in hell, but the frustration of the characters is a constant.
De-powering super-heroes is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but de-contextualizing them in the way Lemire does in Black Hammer is profound stuff. The gifts each of the heroes have become a prison unto themselves in a world that refuses to respond to their power. As the second issue concludes in dead ends for the heroes in Rockwood and yet another square one for Black Hammer, it’s clear that the rabbit hole goes a long way down. It promises to be a thrilling dive.
Writer: Joe Henderson
Artist: Lee Garbett
In the novel Slapstick, Kurt Vonnegut played with the idea of malfunctioning gravity to both hilarious and tragic effect. In Image Comic’s Skyward, gravity, as we know it, has ceased to exist. Willa Fowler, a young woman born just before “G-Day” has grown up tethered (sometimes literally) to the city of Chicago. Life is very different, but life continues. The world building and illustration of Joe Henderson and Lee Garbett are masterful, hitting on many of the minute details of troubleshooting life in zero gravity.
While the soaring, open panels and dynamic daily travel of Willa is compelling enough, the mystery of “G-day” is the heart of the story. Her now-agoraphobic and reclusive father claims he knows how to fix gravity. His former colleague, a man made wealthy by the breaking of the world as we know it, has some strong feelings on that subject. Willa, a wonderful alchemy of trickster, rebel, blue-collar and free-spirit has unwittingly set a chain of events in motion that will bring these two men together again. Along the way, hopefully, we’ll find out just how the atmosphere didn’t float off, but for now, disbelief, like gravity in Skyward, is suspended.
Black Panther #1
Ta-Nehisi Coates continues to deliver operatic storylines with Wakanda’s son. The Galactic Empire of Wakanda was revealed in Marvel Legacy, but Coates’ storyline plunges us into the heart of it. An amnesiac T’Challa wakes as a prisoner on a mining colony, and almost immediately starts a one-man uprising. His disorientation mirrors the reader’s, and Coates’ provided primer at the end helps sort out who the players are, if not where they are on the field. Daniel Acuna’s visuals are masterworks of energetic and sharp emotionalism. Brooding purples and blues play off the sea of lights of a futuristic backdrop.
2016’s A Nation Under Our Feet was a major turn in the development of Black Panther, with elements being used in the feature film, and its wide vision delivered a powerful result. This re-launch of Black Panther breaks away from that, leaving readers floating in space with T’Challa. Marvel has wiped the slate clean and given Coates and Acuña the latitude to build from the ground up, to tell the story of “A king who sought to be a hero, a hero who was reduced to a slave, a slave who advanced into legend.”
What did you bring home this week? What’s on your radar? What artist are you feeling right now? Let us know in the comments!