An incredible display of character development and storytelling.

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Once they were heroes, but that age has long since passed. Banished from existence by a multiversal crisis, the old champions of Spiral City—Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, Colonel Weird, Madame Dragonfly, and Barbalien—now lead simple lives in a timeless farming town. Even as they try to find their way home, trouble has a unique way of finding heroes wherever they are!

This series opens with us finding the heroes of Spiral City stranded at a farm in a small town. This small town seems to be quite literally, located in the middle of nowhere without the heroes having any idea of how they got there.

What’s even more strange, for some unknown reason they are unable to travel beyond the outer limits of the small town. They are stuck. Everyone else in the town is free to come and go as they please. But the heroes are forced to stay and make a life in this strange new land.

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If you’re a Jeff Lemire fan, this is a must read for you. I would have to say this is probably some of his best work so far. Not only is the story a unique one, it also has very interesting characters. And by interesting, I’m talking about a 50-something-year-old woman stuck in a 9-year-old’s body, an alien from Mars who can take the appearance of humans, an old battle hardened hero, a Colonel with the last name weird who travels to other dimensions, a persistent and slightly irritable robot, and an actual witch. Doesn’t get much more diverse than that.

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This series is perfect if you’re a big superhero fan but still like books with an indie feel to them. With this you get to see some iconic inspired characters with a twist that only Lemire can pull off. With each issue of this volume he focuses on a different member of the group—going over their origins.

The beauty of Lemire’s writing is that he is able to tell the origins in a way that still moves the ongoing story forward. There is no halting of the story in lieu of telling the characters’ origins. To put it simply, he uses seamless transitions to keep the story flowing in a very natural and organic way.

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I’m not real familiar with the previous work of Dean Ormston before Black Hammer. But now, after finishing this first volume, I’m not sure if I could picture anybody else doing the art for this series. I think me not knowing his work actually enhanced the story for me. Since I wasn’t really familiar with his work, I had no expectations going in. Which made the art stand out to me more than if I’d known his style ahead of time.

But I must say, the art really has that Jeff Lemire book feel to it. He always seems to have very unique art accompanying his storytelling. And this is no different. Ormston does a fantastic job of convening the isolation and hopelessness some characters feel, and the contentedness and even joy of others. Very well done.

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If it weren’t for the monthly book club I go to at my local comic book shop, I probably wouldn’t have gotten around to reading this for a while. And now that I have, I can’t wait until the next volume comes out so I can see what amazing things Lemire has cooked up.

I’m giving Black Hammer volume 1: Secret Origins…

5 shots of whiskey

5 Out of 5 Whiskey Shots

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Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dean Ormston
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Cover Artist: Dean Ormston

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