It’s A Hero Swap In Black Hammer / Justice League: Hammer of Justice! #1

by James Ferguson

Black Hammer has been playing with super hero tropes since it began and now it gets a chance to tango with some of the originators of those ideas in a crossover for the ages. A mysterious man swaps out the residents of Black Hammer Farm with the Justice League in Metropolis. How will they handle their new surroundings?

The bulk of Black Hammer / Justice League: Hammer of Justice! #1 serves to establish the characters from both worlds before having them change places. Long time readers of Black Hammer will find these heroes back on the farm instead of venturing through Spiral City. We see them on an average day, lamenting about their prison and the time they’ve spent here with little to no hope of ever getting home again.

Similarly, the Justice League are having a typical day, although theirs is a bit more lively. Instead of chores on the farm or trying to figure out a way off this strange world, they’re fighting Starro. Artist Michael Walsh makes the alien starfish look scarier than ever. It has these unsettling, bulging veins across its body, surrounding a frightening, all-seeing eye at its center.

This would freak out any normal people, but the Justice League is far from normal. They face this imposing threat with their heads held high. They exude confidence as they work together to take down Starro and all his little spores.

It’s interesting to see the contrast between the two settings. The farm is full of blues and greys, mirroring the quiet nature of its location and the complete lack of excitement and energy. Meanwhile, Metropolis is bustling with activity. The sun shines so bright that you practically have to squint when you look at the page. These lines are blurred when the characters are flipped. The farm gets some of those yellows and Metropolis gets a little more grey. This is a great touch.

When comparing the two sets of heroes, it’s like night and day. The Justice League is strong and buttoned up. They are the personification of the term “super hero.” Meanwhile, the Black Hammer folks are beaten down and gritty. Their hopes and dreams have been knocked out of them over the years.

Of course, the characters don’t realize they’re in another world at first. Abraham Slam, Barbalien, and the others think they’re back home. This leads to excitement that’s quickly replaced with sadness. This is perfectly exemplified in a sequence with Golden Gail, an adult trapped in the body of a young girl. If she’s back home, she can transform back to her regular self. You see her trying and trying to do this to the point where tears are pouring down her face. Letterer Nate Piekos captures the intensity of her emotion in increasingly larger word balloons that then bounce down to the smallest whimpers when she realizes she’s still stuck.

Now that the premise of Black Hammer / Justice League: Hammer of Justice! is defined, I’m eager to see what writer Jeff Lemire is going to do next with this series. With how he’s managed to turn this genre on its head with Black Hammer, I can’t imagine what’s in store for us as the story continues. This is a crossover with tons of possibilities.

Black Hammer / Justice League: Hammer of Justice! #1 from Dark Horse Comics and DC Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: