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Black Hammer Giant-Sized Annual Review by Max Mallet

Script: Jeff Lemire
Art: Nate Powell, Matt Kindt, Dustin Nguyen, Ray Fawkes, Emi Lenox and Michael Allred
Colors:  Dave Stewart, Sharlene Kindt, Dave Stewart, Ray Fawkes and Dave Stewart
Letters: Todd Klein
Publisher: Dark Horse

“There is more to this story.  Things that happened.  Things that I am powerless to change.”

Black Hammer Giant-Sized Annual is a 35-page tour de force spanning across time and dimensions.  Jeff Lemire’s (Descender, Sweet Tooth) heralded series comes across as a love letter to the silver age of super-hero comics.  This annual is no exception, and your opinion of silver age comics could well determine your opinion of this monster issue.

Lemire’s annual takes place in a time where the age of heroes is gone and rusting.  That context in conjunction with a monster in space should make seasoned readers think “Watchmen!” within the first few pages.  However, Lemire’s writing is far more whimsical, at times flirting the line between love letter and satire.

Lemire leads us on a tour of several vignettes of different characters in the Black Hammer universe, with Colonel Weird giving us access to these stories by way of a time-and-dimension-traversing space entity.  Lemire’s strength is crafting unique voices to all of the different heroes, demonstrating their motives and personality quirks with ease.  However, the overall story is very taste-specific.  It’s hard to take a story seriously with heroes named Colonel Weird, Talky-Walky and Abraham Slam. Furthermore, dated dialogue and a story that jumps from one character to another creates a feeling of unsatisfying chaos.  Colonel Weird is the anchor, but his narrations serve as mostly telling-over-showing.  This doesn’t allow for new readers to become emotionally invested in any of these heroes, or the overarching story.  While there are glimmering moments, Black Hammer Giant-Sized Annual boasts a pretty impenetrable for new readers.

This annual features a boatload of artists and colorists.  This works well in some capacity because of the fact that we’re following several stories within this annual.  Matt Kindt’s (Dept. H, Mind MGMT) art feels like it jumped in time from the 1970s or 1980s, and nicely compliments the corresponding vignette.  In contrast, Ray Fawkes (Intersect, Constantine) creates the most unique artwork with watercolors in a noir setting.  The art helps readers to navigate this full-to-the-brim annual issue, and has far more hits than misses.

Verdict: Skip.  There are too many hurdles with the writing and overall story.  You’ll probably enjoy this if you’re already reading Black Hammer, or if you want a large sci-fi issue with a variety of different art styles.  However, if you’re new to Lemire’s work or Black Hammer, this issue will prove somewhat uncompromising.

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