Tag Archives: jeff lemire

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.

Gideon Falls Will Keep Readers Guessing Until December with an 80-page Finale

Gideon Falls #27

The Eisner Award winning Gideon Falls by New York Times bestselling writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino (the creative team behind Green Arrow and Old Man Logan), with the talents of Eisner Award winning colorist Dave Stewart, will come to its show-stopping conclusion with an extra-length, shelf-busting issue #27. This final, mind-bending issue will clock in at 80 pages and release from Image Comics this December.

The horror/mystery series became an overnight success and critical darling when it launched in March 2018. It went on to take home the 2019 Eisner Award for Best New Series and become one of the top selling, reordered series at Image Comics with multiple reprints.

Gideon Falls explores the lives of a reclusive young man obsessed with a conspiracy in the city’s trash, and a washed up Catholic Priest arriving in a small town full of dark secrets. At the heart of the town’s secrets is intertwined the mysterious legend of The Black Barn, a otherworldly building that is alleged to have appeared in both the city and the small town, throughout history, bringing death and madness in its wake.

Fans won’t want to miss the satisfaction of this finale. Gideon Falls #27 will be the final issue in the series and will be available at local comic book shops in December.

Comics Deserve Better: Episode 4: Descender #1-7 by Jeff Lemire, Dustin Nguyen, and Steve Wands

In this episode of Comics Deserve Better, Brian, Darci, and Logan gush over the first arc of Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen‘s 2015 space opera comic, Descender. Stay tuned for chatter about small robots, big robots, and great watercolor art. Other comics mentioned on the show, include Robert Kirkman and Chris Samnee‘s blockbuster Fire Power, self-published darlings Post and Stella vs. the Tinder Box, Tom Taylor and Daniele Di Nicuolo‘s Seven Secrets, Evan Dahm‘s Harrowing of Hell, and more. (Episode art by Dustin Nguyen)

Sweet Tooth Returns in November with Sweet Tooth: The Return

On November 3, acclaimed international bestseller Jeff Lemire and colorist José Villarubia reunite for a new six-issue post-apocalyptic fantasy miniseries featuring the bizarre, haunting, Sweet Tooth!

Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Gus. He had antlers and lived with his father in a little cabin in the woods. Then his father died, and the big man with cold eyes took Gus away. Gus went on many great adventures, found friends, love, happiness, family, and acceptance.

Now, years later…it begins again. A young boy with antlers and deer-like feature wakes in a bizarre and completely foreign world where the last humans struggle to survive. They tell the boy he is special, he is chosen, and that he alone can lead them back to a world dominated by the oppressive Hybrids.

Sweet Tooth: The Return is no re-hash of the original series, but rather a bold re-imagining of the Sweet Tooth mythology; taking elements of the original series and remixing them into something familiar, but totally new. A divided world. A planet long ago past the point of devastation. And at the center of it all, a child who didn’t ask to be born into any of this, but who has no choice but to try and forge some life for himself. His visions and dreams may not be real at all…they may just be fiction. But they are hope. And sometimes hope is enough.

Sweet Tooth: The Return #1, with a cover by creator Jeff Lemire and a card stock variant cover by Jim Lee, debuts November 3. New issues will ship monthly and the series will carry DC’s Black Label content descriptor, indicating content appropriate for readers 17+.

Sweet Tooth: The Return #1

Review: Frogcatchers

Jeff Lemire explores life and death with his latest graphic novel, Frogcatchers from Gallery 13.

Story: Jeff Lemire
Art: Jeff Lemire

Get your copy in comic shops! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon (Hardcover)
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Kindle
Zeus Comics
Bookshop

Gallery 13 provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
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Preview: Green Lantern 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1

Green Lantern 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1

(W) Geoff Johns, Mariko Tamaki, Peter J. Tomasi, Jeff Lemire, Robert Venditti, Dennis O’Neil, Sina Grace, Charlotte Fullerton, Ron Marz, James Tynion IV, Others (A) Ivan Reis, Fernando Pasarin, Darryl Banks, Mike Grell, Rafa Sandoval, Others (CA) Liam Sharp
In Shops: Jun 24, 2020
SRP: $9.99

In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil could ever escape their sight! The Green Lanterns are celebrating 80 years of keeping the DC Universe safe. Join us to see tales of all of the universe’s most legendary Green Lanterns: Alan Scott, Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, Jessica Cruz, Simon Baz, and appearances from other cosmic favorites! A legendary lineup of creators including Geoff Johns, Peter J. Tomasi, Jeff Lemire, Ivan Reis, and others will be keeping the galaxy glowing bright! PRESTIGE FORMAT.

Green Lantern 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1

Review: The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #3

THE QUESTION: THE DEATHS OF VIC SAGE #3

After a five-month hiatus, The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #3 returns the series with an issue that would make the late Denny O’Neil proud. Jeff Lemire, Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Chris Sotomayor expertly combine a 1940s film noir story with the not-so-zen cycle of death and regeneration that Charles Szasz/Vic Sage/The Question has been on over the previous three issues. The genre story with an O’Neil-esque social conscience plus growing conspiracy and mysterious ending is a winning formula to go with Cowan, Sienkiewicz, and Sotomayor’s scratchy, impressionistic visuals. Even though these scripts and maybe even pages were banked long before the current conflict between activists and the police over their murder of Black people and general abuse of power, The Question #3 fits into the zeitgeist with a sequence of corrupt Hub City cops beating striking factory workers and protecting the easy, exploitative lives of Hub’s one percenters. In the past, I may have said that Hub City symbolizes the American id, but it’s a mirror to American reality with period piece trappings like Dashiell Hammett narration, panels of old newspapers whispering about another world war and featuring Golden Age crime fighters, and lots of close-ups of alcoholic beverages. The sleazy Howard Chaykin-esque (He draws this issue’s variant cover) supporting figures add to this feeling of dirtiness and depravity.

Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Chris Sotomayor have done the 1980s urban vigilante (Watchmen, Dark Knight, the O’Neil/Cowan Question run) and Western genres in the previous two issues of The Question and dig into the noir detective story in The Question #3. It’s evident that all three artists are having fun with lots of spot blacks, eye-catching visual flourishes like the red hair of Sage’s client, Maggie Fuller, and the all-important chiarascuro lighting from desk lamps and cigarettes. The Question is stylish and filled with verbal/visual irony like when Sage monologues about getting close to solving the case while some union-busting toughs are sneaking up on him to beat him up. And though the story is set decades before The Question’s creation, the page is crammed full with signatures of the character, like smoke rings and investigation boards with string between them even if Sage is mostly unmasked for the comic’s duration.

The cherry on top is Jeff Lemire’s approach to dialogue and captions. One of things that I like about Lemire (And why Marvel, DC, Valiant etc. keep bringing him in to refresh their various intellectual properties.) is that he never gets in his own way and adapts his style to the genre or type or story that he’s writing in. This is why Black Hammer is so clever and superhero genre tour de force/world tour, and he transfers this over to The Question #3 bringing the 1940s to 2020 with the help of Willie Schubert’s typewriter lettering. His dialogue is tommy gun fast with Sage cutting to the quick of the situation until he gets knocked upside the head. But then Cowan and Sienkiewicz are there with the reminder that Sage’s mentor-in-the-shadows Richard Dragon is a martial arts master, and the tone shifts from Maltese Falcon to Enter the Dragon. They use the whole page to show Sage’s fluid fighting moves, which aren’t like your average “put up your dukes” private eye and are a good transition to get a glimpse at one of Vic Sage’s other lives/deaths.

THE QUESTION: THE DEATHS OF VIC SAGE #3

But The Question #3 isn’t merely an interesting genre exercise or visual masterclass. (The Denys Cowan/Bill Sienkiewicz pencil/ink process pages at the end make the extra money spent on this issue worth it and will look glorious in the magazine-size Black Label format.) It’s an ode to the violently socially conscious and anti-establishment of the late 1930s and early 1940s without the racial stereotypes of those Golden Age books. The plot of The Question #3 is Sage taking on basically a pro-bono missing person case, and that missing person just happens to be both a union organizer and the brother of another union organizer. Like he usually does, Sage thinks he connect everything to one big conspiracy, but with the shifting timelines and eternal corruption of the police force of Hub City, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Lemire and Cowan’s use of flashbacks isn’t confusing, but shows that there’s no simple answer to the problems that Vic Sage is facing. Because we’re still getting fucked over by corporations in 2020 like we are in the early 1940s. (If not more so thanks to a steady string of Republican and “centrist” Democrat heads of state.)

Like that infinitely memeable Alan Moore quote about conspiracies, Vic Sage’s faith that “everything is connected” as Jeff Lemire so aptly puts is a child’s blanket (Or prayer) in the face of a hurricane because, as Moore states, “the world is rudderless”. Lemire, Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Chris Sotomayor show the loose and futile nature of Sage’s faith in underlying order through non-linear storytelling and a series of catastrophes to match the impressionist, scratchy art and muted palette. The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #3 is the best issue of the series yet, and I’m excited to see how they put all the threads, timelines, Vic Sages, Questions, and questions in The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage‘s finale

Story: Jeff Lemire Pencils: Denys Cowan  Inks: Bill Sienkiewicz
Colors: Chris Sotomayor Letters: Willie Schubert
Story: 8.5 Art: 9.3 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics/Black Label provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Preview: The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #3

The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #3

(W) Jeff Lemire (A/CA) Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz
In Shops: Jun 17, 2020
SRP: $6.99

DC BLACK LABEL AGES 17+
It’s 1941, and Hub City is on the brink of a world war…and private eye Charlie Sage is on the brink of unraveling an enormous conspiracy! If he could just get that mysterious dame in red to talk-and keep his kneecaps intact, what with that strike-busting muscle coming up behind him-then maybe, just maybe, he can break the terrible cycle that keeps leading him back, through the ages, to his own death… 8.5″ x 10.875″

The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage #3

Return to “Mr. Smile’s Playhouse” in This First Look at Pages from Batman: The Smile Killer!

DC Comics has released a first look at the follow-up to Joker: Killer SmileBatman: The Smile Killer! Also by the Eisner Award-winning Talent team of writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino. This prestige format one-shot epilogue takes a different look at the Clown Prince of Crime, through the eyes of a young Bruce Wayne and his favorite cartoon television show.

Bruce Wayne grew up watching The Mr. Smiles Show – and the show might have been watching him back! And not only was young Bruce watching, he was listening… listening as Mr. Smiles spoke across the airwaves only to him… Lemire and Sorrentino land one last gut-punch to the mythos of the Batman, turning it on its head in the most devastating trick The Joker has ever devised!

Batman: The Smile Killer is a $5.99 Prestige Format one-shot available on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. The book will feature DC’s “Black Label” content descriptor, appropriate for readers 17 and older.

Batman: The Smile Killer
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