By Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, Dave Stewart, Todd Klein
The secret origin of Golden Gail, and her alcoholism…
I heard once from an Indie creator that “Good writers borrow, great writers steal” I’m convinced now that Golden Gail is a cross between Billy Batson and Monster from Invincible. Like I said in my review of the first issue of Black Hammer, that kind of doesn’t matter. Even if Lemire is borrowing heavily from other established characters, he makes these hybrids feel like his own.
Although Gail looks like a normal 9 year-old girl, she’s actually a woman close to her sixties whose trapped in a prepubescent body. The reason she drinks, smokes and curses all the time is her frustration that she has to pretend to be something she’s not almost constantly. It makes her a more interesting character, who has more depth than you would assume at first glance. Lemire is using each issue to flesh out these characters, since the first issue focused on Abraham and this one on Gail, and it’s an enjoyable format.
Lemire imbues this series with emotion that works really well. The plot takes a back seat to the characters just talking or dealing with their internal conflicts and it makes them connect with you in a way that most comics don’t because they’re using characters you’ve loved for years. Talky Walky is driven to find a way to help his friends escape their dimensional confinement and Barbalien is happy to help him because it gives him something to do while Talky’s optimism gives him hope. In a way, thats what makes Black Hammer so good and so unique from other superhero books. When you can make superheroes not punching things a story worth reading, you’re operating on a level above 95% the rest of the industry.
If Lemire’s script injects emotion, Ormston’s art along with Dave Stewart’s colors injects atmosphere into the story. That is of course what they should be doing, but it’s that approach that is different from their peers. The focus isn’t on action or glamorous bodies doing cool stuff; instead its about this world. Its murky, not dark or depressing, but not quite mundane either. These fantastical people are stuck in the normal, rural town and it doesn’t get boring. You can look at the page of Gale hiding in the bathroom, wishing to become the woman she really is and what she’s feeling is clear from the art. anxiety, desperation, hope, despair; its all captured in a single panel. Of course that doesn’t mean Ormston doesn’t draw cool giant robots or Golden Gail in action as a superheroine. That’s all a side perk to the main attraction.
This has turned into yet another strong showing of Lemire’s talents as a writer with his grasp of human emotions and what drives us. Reading a story and being moved by it, instead of just watching a series of cool action scenes, is too rare in comics and movies. Yet, Lemire often does this and its why I’m such a fan of his work. Trust me when I say, Black Hammer is likely to rank among his best.
Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent
Disclosure: Publisher Dark Horse provided a review copy of this comic to Nothing But Comics without any payment between the site and publisher or agreement on the review’s content.