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The World of ‘Black Hammer’ Gets a Little More Unbelievable

The world of the Eisner Award-winning Black Hammer series continues to expand with this meta team superhero saga taking place between two different worlds in The Unbelievable Unteens! Written by critically acclaimed author and Black Hammer co-creator Jeff Lemire and illustrated by returning Black Hammer artist, Tyler CrookThe Unbelievable Unteens spins a genre-bending origin story for a brand-new superhero team!     

After signing at a comic book convention, Unbelievable Unteens artist Jane Ito finds herself visited by one of the characters from her own creation—but was it her own creation? Were the Unteens an actual school of teenaged misfit superheroes who battled supervillains under the lead of the mysterious Dr. Miles Moniker? And if so, who wiped their memories and why?  As Jane’s world is turned upside down and she learns the true nature of her identity she discovers a sinister plot leading her to assemble a team she had suspected was purely fictional.

The Unbelievable Unteens #1 (of four) will hit comic shops on August 11, 2021. It is available for pre-order at your local comic shop.

Black Hammer is Reborn

Black Hammer returns in a new ongoing series picking up twenty years after the events of Age of Doom in Black Hammer: Reborn! The Eisner Award-winning superhero saga created by Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston welcomes Caitlin Yarsky as the new main series artist for Black Hammer, with colors by Dave Stewart. Issues #5-#8 will feature guest artists Malachi Ward and Matt Sheean!

In 1986, Black Hammer and the rest of Spiral City’s greatest superheroes seemingly died defeating the cosmic despot known as Anti-God and saving the world. But one woman refused to believe they were truly gone: Lucy Weber, the daughter of Black Hammer.  Learning that her dad had sacrificed himself to save the other heroes, Lucy soon took up the mantle of Black Hammer and carried on the legacy of her father as the world’s greatest superhero.

Now, it’s twenty years later, and Lucy, and the world, have moved on. Living in the suburbs of Spiral City, Lucy is married and has children. But all is not blissful. Her marriage is falling apart, her job has reached a dead end, and for mysterious reasons, she hasn’t picked up the hammer in years.  But, as her domestic life begins to crumble, the secrets of the last twenty years, and the reasons Lucy really gave up being Black Hammer, begin to resurface, threatening her family, and the peace she has tried hard to find for herself.

Black Hammer: Reborn is the next era of the Black Hammer Universe; a series that juxtaposes an achingly human story of domestic life, marriage, parenthood, and destiny with a pulse-pounding superhero thriller that peels back new layers of mystery, and pulls the Black Hammer history into the present.

Black Hammer: Reborn #1 will hit comic shops on June 23, 2021, featuring an issue #1 variant by Jeff Lemire and Dave Stewart.

Review: Barbalien Red Planet #2

BARBALIEN RED PLANET #2

In Barbalien: Red Planet #2, writers Tate Brombal and Jeff Lemire, artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta, colorist Jordie Bellaire, and letterer Aditya Bidikar use the Black Hammer Universe sandbox to show the danger, tension, and yes, joy of being a queer man in the 1980s during the AIDS crisis. The first half of the comic is an homage to ball culture as Miguel, the young Latinx gay activist that Barbalien saved last issue, shows Mark Markz (Disguised a closeted, blond gay man named Luke) around an underground gay club until it is raided by the police. The dark, yet welcoming colors from Bellaire create a vibrant space that is interrupted by the jarring reds of the homophobic cops, their night sticks, and slurs. These are Markz’s colleagues on the force, and throughout the comic, he grapples with his different identities and roles in society: Martian, gay man, and police officer and tries to reconcile them while using abilities to be different things to different people.

Barbalien: Red Planet has done an excellent job of showing how difficult life was for my queer elders. Nowadays, I can go on Yelp and find a decent gay bar or queer-friendly space. Coming out was personally difficult, but being queer is something that is mostly tolerated by members of American society unless you’re a piece-of-shit Republican or Trumper. Rainbow capitalism is a thing, cops show up at Pride, well-meaning, yet tone-deaf corporate grocery stores think that “ally” is part of the LGBTQIA spectrum, and Ru Paul is a fracker. There is an assimilationist streak going on in the queer community (i.e. Lesbian couples throwing gender reveal parties.) where folks try to fit in with our late-capitalist, neoliberal, and fuck it, white supremacist kryriarchal society instead of resisting it. They applaud a racially profiling medium town mayor for being the first LGBTQ cabinet member in the administration of a right of center groper and a gender essentialist TERF and amuse themselves by watching annoying, heterosexual late-night TV hosts act out queer male stereotypes before a bloviating audience. (Aka fuck Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, James Corden, and Prom.)

However, Barbalien: Red Planet #2 doesn’t do any of this and centers on the BIPOC who were critical in the struggle for LGBTQ rights and trying to get the U.S. government to acknowledge the AIDS crisis. In Barbalien: Red Planet #2, Brombal, Lemire, and Walta introduce readers to the Black drag queen, Knight Klub, who is drawn, colored, and even lettered in a larger than life manner. She is an inspiration to queer men like Miguel, who spins stories of her being at Stonewall and assaulting a police officer at the White Night Riots. And Knight Klub lives up to the hype in the comic as she reads one of the raid cops and gives Miguel and Luke a chance to run away into the Spiral City night. The tension between direct action and trying to lay low continues towards the end of the book when Miguel’s friend Rafael channels his inner Marsha P. Johnson and throws a brick into a police station where the cops are planning to “shut down homosexual spaces”. He is angry that the police grabbed his partner Devon, who is HIV positive, and was inspired by Miguel hanging up a Pride flag at the courthouse. However, this is also just plain dangerous even with Markz mediating and trying to make none of his new friends are arrested or hurt. Because I live in an ostensibly more tolerant society, I can’t 100% relate to what happens in this comic, but I definitely have decided to not publicly come out as nonbinary because of pushback and constantly dealing with being misgendered. (I’m using he/they pronouns for now, but really prefer they/them.)

Barbalien: Red Planet #2

These atmosphere of activism and the characterization that Tate Brombal gives to Miguel, Rafael, and Devon are like the velvet to the emotional diamond that is Luke’s coming out story. This is technically his second coming out because Barbalien was exiled from Mars for being gay, sympathetic toward humans, and a peaceful man in a warlike society as shown in his previous stories. Luke is new to being around people like him, being called slurs, and even dancing and definitely comes across like a deer in headlights. However, to Miguel, it looks like he is giving off mixed signals, and Walta does a wonderful job of showing his frustration when Luke shrinks away from a kiss. He is exploring his identity during a volatile time, but there are some peaceful moments like Barbalien hanging out next to a Pride flag in Spiral City’s gay village.

These are the moments to savor between cop raids/attacks, and the most typical superhero/sci-fi part of this comic, which is a basically smartphone-wielding Martian bounty hunter tracking Barbalien down to make him pay for his “crimes” against Mars. The bounty hunter is a fairly straightforward protagonist, but Bombral, Lemire, and Walta draw some ghastly parallels between how he treats human beings and the police treat queer men and don’t pull any punches. They’ll kick down the doors just like the bounty hunter will blast them away with a similar intense color palette from Jordie Bellaire, who does a wonderful job gauging the emotion of each panel from peace to awkwardness and even sadness in a silent sequence where Luke looks at the sleeping Miguel, pictures of him with his partner, and then looks down at his police badge as he tries to reconcile his desire for peace and to do good with his true identity as a gay alien.

Two issues in, and Tate Brombal, Jeff Lemire, Gabriel Walta, Jordie Bellaire, and Aditya Bidikar’s Barbalien: Red Planet is easily my favorite story set in the Black Hammer universe (Black Hammer ’45 is fantastic too.). It’s the one I’ve been able to personally connect to. It’s a soul-searing character study for Barbalien/Mark Markz/Luke, and how he struggles with his identity and place on Earth/Spiral City while also centering the role of BIPOC in LGBTQ+ activism during the 1980s and telling their stories as well. And it does all of this with a superhero secret identity/shapeshifting twist.

Script: Tate Brombal Story: Jeff Lemire and Tate Brombal
 Art: Gabriel Hernandez Walta
Colors: Jordie Bellaire Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.4 Overall: 9.2 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Black Hammer: Visions Opens Up a Playground for Creators

Experience Black Hammer like never before in this exciting reimagining of the Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston created, Eisner-award winning series! Black Hammer: Visions is a series of one-shots bringing some of comic’s most exciting talent into the Black Hammer Universe including Patton Oswalt, Geoff Johns, Scott Snyder, Dean Kotz, Scott Kolins, Chip Zdarsky, Johnnie Christmas, Cullen Bunn, Malachi Ward, Matt Sheean, Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, Mariko Tamaki, Diego Olortegui, Cecil Castellucci, and Melissa Duffy, with colors by Jason Wordie, Bill Crabtree, Jordie Bellaire, and Dave Stewart and letters by Nate Piekos!

Kicking off Black Hammer: Visions, Patton Oswalt joins artists Dean Kotz and Jason Wordie to explore the life of youthful super heroine Golden Gail on the Black Hammer Farm before the beginning of Black Hammer#1, and her struggle to maintain sanity as a middle-aged woman trapped in the unchanging body of a superpowered grade-schooler. This 32-page issue also features variant covers by Evan Dorkin with Sarah Dyer, and Gilbert Hernandez with Dave Stewart!

Black Hammer: Visions #1 (of eight) will hit comic shops on February 10, 2021.

Underrated: Black Hammer: Secret Origins

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Black Hammer: Secret Origins


A lot has been said about Black Hammer, Jeff Lemire’s homage to the classic hero comics of yesteryear, and much of that praise can be found on the back of this very collection. Scott Snyder, Charles Soule, Cullen Bunn, Dan Jurgens and more are all effusive in their praise for a comic that Mark Millar called “the most brilliant comic I’ve read in years.”

I would agree with everything said on the back of the book, honestly. Jeff Lemire is one of the dozen or so writers whose work I will read without caring what it is because I know the quality of writing will always be very high (of course there are some things that just don’t do it for me, but not because they’re bad – but because it’s not entirely my cup of tea). Black Hammer is one of those things that is both really good (better, honestly, than I expected), and entirely my thing.

In short, it’s one of the best things that I have ever read from Jeff Lemire.

So what exactly is the book about? I’ll use the blurb from the back of the book to explain:

Wiped out of their superhero universe by a multiversal crisis, the forgotten heroes of Spiral City now live as a dysfunctional family on a mysterious farm in a small town from which they have no escape.

If it sounds intriguing, well you’ll be happy to know that’s only the very tip of the iceberg. The premise is good, and promises an interesting look at what life looks like after (forced) retirement, but it’s the way that the characters come to life on the page that’s truly gripping. Some have accepted their new lot in life, and are even making the best of what cards they’ve been dealt as they adjust to life after superheroics.

And some, well, some have never given up trying to get home.

The way that Lemire frames the opening parts of Black Hammer (as I write this I have the following three volumes on my read pile, but I’m just looking at volume one today) is that escape is hopeless, and anything other than acceptance is foolishness. But if that were you, would you accept what you’ve been given or do your damnedest to get back to the home you knew, even if it may not be as peaceful as where you are?

The answer, ultimately, would depend on a couple key differences; whether you were at least content with the new life you had or if it was driving you to insanity. Within the pages of Black Hammer, there are characters nearing their breaking point (or in some cases may have already gone beyond the breaking point), and it’s fascinating watching them all struggle to navigate the normal that they now find themselves in.

Black Hammer has spoken to my love of modern takes on distinctly Golden Age heroes. With a Justice League like group of characters locked in mysterious pocket dimension where they’re forced to live normal lives on a farm, we get to explore what happens to a hero on a forced retirement. Not everybody I know is a fan of where this comic is going, and how it’s been getting there, but every issue has been a win for me – which is another reason this appears in this issue of Underrated. But the tinges of something lingering just beneath the surface give a genuine sense of unease to the comic. Black Hammer is very much a slow burn, but it’s going to be incandescent when we get the pay off at the end…


Unless the comics industry ceases any and all publication look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t cracking the top 100.

Barbalien Before Black Hammer

A groundbreaking new historical sci-fi series in Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s world of the Eisner Award–winning Black Hammer universe, about identity, survival, and the choices we make. Coming off of his work in The World of Black Hammer Encyclopedia, upcoming writer Tate Brombal, with Eisner-winning artist Gabriel Hernández Walta, pens an origin story set during the heights of the HIV-AIDS crisis in Barbalien: Red Planet.

Mark Markz has found a comfortable life on Earth as both a decorated police officer and as the beloved superhero, Barbalien. But when Mark is suddenly thrust onto the frontlines of the AIDS crisis, his role as a cop raises doubts and he must now reckon with his own closeted sexuality. Growing tensions make balancing his disparate identities seem impossible—especially when a Martian enemy from his past hunts him down on Earth to take him home, dead or alive. Heroism, privilege, and complacency are all called into question, as Mark becomes more-and-more embroiled in the activism of the time and with the man leading its charge—the handsome and headstrong Miguel.

Barbalien: Red Planet #1

Things Get Weird as Colonel Weird: Cosmagog Spins Out of Black Hammer

From the world of the Eisner Award-winning Black Hammer series comes a bizarre, sci-fi adventure origin story! Black Hammer writer and co-creator Jeff Lemire and acclaimed artist Tyler Crook bring the next story from the world of Black HammerColonel Weird: Cosmagog.

Wacky space adventurer Colonel Randall Weird leaves the Black Hammer farm and embarks on a strange journey through space and time for something that he’s long forgotten with his sanity and life at stake!

Colonel Weird: Cosmagog #1 (of four) goes on sale on April 22, 2020.

Colonel Weird: Cosmagog #1

SDCC 2019: Peek Into the Black Hammer-Verse

Dip your toe into the Black Hammer-verse with the Black Hammer 3 for $1and Skulldigger + Skeleton Boy from Dark Horse Comics! Explore the weird, wonderful, ever-expanding world created by acclaimed writer Jeff Lemire and veteran artist Dean Ormston.

Black Hammer 3 for $1 is a perfect intro to three great storylines in the Black Hammer–verse for just one dollar! This three-in-one anthology features the first issues of the original Black Hammer run, Sherlock Frankenstein, and Quantum Age, collected together in a 72-page discount package! Featuring art by artists Dean Ormston, David Rubín, and Wilfredo Torres, Black Hammer 3 for $1 is your one-way ticket to Spiral City and beyond!

And if you’re already well versed in the Black Hammer-verse, then you won’t want to miss the debut of the newest hero to stalk the streets of Spiral City in Skulldigger + Skeleton Boy! Written by Black Hammer co-creator Jeff Lemire, with art by Tonci Zonjic and letters by Steve Wands, Skulldigger + Skeleton Boy is the latest installment in the ever-expanding Black Hammer-verse.

Teased in The World of Black Hammer Encyclopedia, this tale of dark tragedy finds Spiral City trapped in a vicious cycle of crime, corruption, and violence. With the heart of the city at stake, a vigilante rises in Skulldigger. However, when the nefarious Grimjim escapes from prison, will Skulldigger and his ward, Skeleton Boy, be enough to save Spiral City? Be sure to find out in Skulldigger + Skeleton Boy #1.

Black Hammer 3 for $1 goes on sale November 06, 2019, and Skulldigger + Skeleton Boy #1 (of twelve) goes on sale December 11, 2019.

The World of Black Hammer Gets a Definitive Guide

If you’re a fan of the Eisner Award-winning series but have questions about the weird and wonderful world filled with Golden Age pulp heroes and alien warlords then you won’t want to miss this! Critically acclaimed writer and Black Hammer co-creator Jeff Lemire is teaming up with writer Tate Brombal to explore the colorful characters that populate the Black Hammer universe in a brand new one-shot, The World of Black Hammer Encyclopedia! 

This special one-shot offers a guide to the world of Black Hammer, presenting detailed biographies of Black Hammer’s heroes, villains, and supporting characters, illustrated by a wide assortment of superstar artists, including David Rubín (Ether), Wilfredo Torres (The Quantum Age), Tyler Crook (Harrow County), Christian Ward (Invisible Kingdom), and more! The World of Black Hammer Encyclopedia features colors by Dave Stewart (Hellboy, Black Hammer) and a cover by Andrea Sorrentino!

The World of Black Hammer Encyclopedia goes on sale July 3, 2019.

The World of Black Hammer Encyclopedia

Dark Horse Delivers Stranger Things and Black Hammer for Free Comic Book Day

Visit your local comic shop May 4, 2019, for Free Comic Book Day! Dark Horse delivers tales from two diverse worlds in their FCBD Gold Offering featuring Netflix’s Stranger Things and a spooky trip into Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s Eisner Award-winning series Black Hammer with a cover by Chun Lo.

In Stranger Things, writer Jody Houser and artist Ibrahim Moustafa bring the adventuring party back together after Eleven’s disappearance, as Nancy and Steve find a way to lift the spirits of a despondent Mike. Perhaps all it takes is a roll of the dice. Then, in the world of the Eisner Award-winning Black Hammer series creator Jeff Lemire, guest writer Ray Fawkes, and artist David Rubín, take the reader on an EC-style tour through Madame Dragonfly’s mysterious Cabin of Horrors to witness two groups of brand-new Black Hammer heroes from the past!

Free Comic Book Day is a single day when participating comic book specialty shops across North America and around the world give away comic books free to anyone who comes into their shops.

Dark Horse Stranger Things Free Comic Book Day
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