I’m a little irritated with this issue, to be honest with you.
Lots of praise has been thrown this series’ way courtesy of its throwback vibe, its attention to character depth, and its weaving of a complex mystery by way of a simple “Stranded!” trope. And still, Black Hammer is a series that continually absconds readers’ attention, and I tore through this particular book so quickly I was upset that there wasn’t any ****ing more and WHY WASN'T THIS A DOUBLE ISSUE?
Sigh. Anyway. Jeff Lemire and guest artist David Rubin did a hell of a wonderful job with issue 12.
This issue gives the reader a bit more insight into the life of Black Hammer’s daughter, Lucy. Things pick up just after the group of heroes disappeared to the strange remote town, and all of Spiral City is trying to recover from the devastation. In fact, there’s a public memorial for the lost heroes presided over by former hero Doctor Star.
I lost my shit here: this scientist, Jimmy Robinson, really comes across as an homage to masterful comic scribe James Robinson. This character bears an uncanny resemblance to Robinson’s portrayal in the criminally underrated Airboy series, as well as throwing a “Star” into his hero name to reference his seminal work in DC’s Star Man series. Also? Robinson’s writing seems to really shine when he takes on vintage characters.
Rubin does a terrific job here in place of series regular Dean Ormston. His characters are chock full of emotion, and his Lucy is exceptionally empathetic as she ages. He really gets into the vibe of the story, and since he’s also inking and coloring the story you really get a pure artistic experience - The Hall of Hammer scenes were especially well rendered. It’s a real treat to have him on art duties for this book.
Rubin also nails the panel layouts during this story, which really emphasizes Lemire’s narrative. It’s all plotted very well, especially the heart-breaking dinner scene between Lucy and her mom – Lucy is sick of having to basically gloss over what her dad REALLY did while he was alive. She wants the world to know how special she was, and how proud she is to be his daughter. The mom’s rationalization makes complete sense, but that doesn’t make this scene any less powerful.
Issue number 12 is a great break from the main narrative, especially after the desperate actions from Golden Gail and Barbalien in the previous issue. However, it’s just as emotionally resonant, keeping in step with the gut-punches this series doles out. One simply can’t say enough about this series, and this issue, gift-wrapped in stunning detail by Rubin, really claws at your brain.
Even though I wish this was a double issue…