Every once in awhile, a comic book swoops into your life that just connects on every possible level.
That comic, is Dark Horse's Black Hammer from Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston and Dave Stewart.
The story follows a group of Golden Age heroes trapped in a rural farming community, on an unfamiliar universe. It's been 10 years since they saved their world and were sent to this farm on Earth.
Black Hammer's characters: Col. Weird and Talky-Walky are best buds focused on getting off of the planet and finding a way out of the town's boundaries. Still not sure on Barbalien.
Our stars, are easily Golden Gail and Abraham Slam. Oh my God. So good. The connection between these two characters is not only fantastically penned by Lemire but is an artistic treasure from Ormston.
The second issue really hones in on the fascinating past and present of Golden Gail. We learn how she gets her powers back in Spiral City and the heart-wrenching mental and physical life she has lived.
We learn Gail is actually a 55-year-old stuck in a 9-year-old's body. We knew she was an adult, just not the specifics to it. So, here she is, stuck on another planet, unable to channel her superpowers (which turn her into her tween alter-ego) and is forced to go to elementary school to protect her cover.
Gail and Abe's relationship, which was a highlight of the first issue, develops on such a deep, personal and, yet, strange manner.
On Earth, Abe is Gail's pretend grandfather while in Spiral City they are heroes. Watching Abe try and keep this group -- mostly Gail -- together. Lemire has done such a damn good job with putting this intricately delicate yet deep relationship.
This is where Dean Ormston comes into play. My goodness, it's not just in the panel above but throughout the whole freaking issue. Gail broods better than anyone, but she also shows an extremely emotional side.
Lemire has done a great job of driving this home through his dialogue, immaculate pacing and overall tone. But, without Ormston's -- and Dave Stewart's highlights, tone and amazing attention to detail on colors -- ability in facial expressions, close-ups and wide shots are second to none.
The idea of a 55-year-old woman getting in trouble for drinking, cursing and getting caught smoking in elementary school absolutely slays me.
Add in the fact that her fellow hero, and full grown adult, Abe has taken on the role of Grandpa Slam with a full head of steam, and you've got some damn fine character work. I've said it countless times throughout my time here, I love writers/artists that play with format.
Look at the connection between the two above panels. Not just the art, by the personality correlation. That's not done by accident.
There are some funny scenes, a quick origin story, deeply emotional scenes ... I can go on and on about this book. It has everything you should look for in a comic book.
Make sure to keep reading after the issue wraps up, as Ormston details some of his rehabilitation from a cerebral hemorrhage he suffered which left the right side of his body paralyzed. He did the layouts for issue two while rehabbing his right hand back to strength.
To think of what he was going through mentally and physically while doing some damn pristine work is not only impressive, but inspiring.
Rating: 10/10 Tell me what's wrong with this book. Go ahead, I'll wait. Just trust me. Buy this book. Lemire, Ormston and Stewart have something beyond special here.