Black Hammer ’45 by Jeff Lemire

details
Title: Black Hammer ’45.
Volume: Spin-Off.
Writer(s): Jeff Lemire& Ray Fawkes
Artist(s): Matt Kindt.
Colourist(s): Sharlene Kindt.
Letterer(s): Marie Enger.
Publisher: Dark Horse Books.
Format: Paperback.
Release Date: October 29th, 2019.
Pages: 120.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781506708508.
My Overall Rating: ★★☆☆☆.

Also in the Black Hammer universe:
Black Hammer (Vol. 1): Secret Origins by Jeff Lemire.
Black Hammer (Vol. 2): The Event by Jeff Lemire.
Black Hammer (Vol. 3): Age of Doom (Part One) by Jeff Lemire.
Black Hammer: Streets of Spiral by Jeff Lemire.

thoughts

What I love most about a fictional world is the characteristic boundlessness that allows all creative minds to expand it in any direction they want. To be able to take elements from an original series—those signature features that make it so distinctive and beloved by fans—and to mold it around completely new settings, eras, and characters is a gift for writers and artists. However, it is also a trap at its core as the possible stories become infinite as long as one’s internal creative machine keeps the wheels turning, whether the story-telling or the artwork is awe-inspiring or not. Take, for example, the ongoing Eisner-award winning Black Hammer series now exploring a World War II action-adventure tale. While the idea might seem promising, it remains to be seen if it can be done tactfully.

What is Black Hammer ’45 about? Set in the Black Hammer universe, this story follows an elite Air Force crew called the Black Hammer Squadron as they set off on a mission to take down the Nazis and their unusual weapons of war, including their invincible aerial pilot, the Ghost Hunter. Collecting Black Hammer ’45 issues #1-4 as well as a short sketchbook section at the end of the volume, this story arc explores the Golden Age of superheroes, paying homage to World War II comic book stories, while remaining very loosely tied to the ongoing Black Hammer series by writer Jeff Lemire and artist Dean Ormston.

Untitled

Was it so bad? No. It was unfortunately unnecessary. The story unfolds with a dual narrative with one set in the future with some members of the Black Hammer Squadron having reached old age and reminiscing on their past traumatic adventures, and one set in the past, exploring the action-packed ground and air combat between all war parties. While a lot of the action sequences are choppy and barely capture the tense atmosphere that was hoped for, it didn’t help that there was an underlying theme of racism and politics that wasn’t handled skillfully regarding this squad composed of a diverse cast that is constantly overshadowed by the dominating ethnicity despite the risks they take and the bravery they showcase.

Where this story arc particularly lost me is in its mediocre artwork. Although it isn’t my first time running into Matt Kindt’s work, I can indubitably assert that it didn’t work much for the story that wanted to be told. The character designs are horrendous and the transition between panels is incomprehensible; there really isn’t much that’s worth praising about. Rarely, there are some fun splash pages that illustrate some crazy fantasy ideas but in the end, they aren’t enough to save the story or the overall impression left by the artwork. Even Sharlene Kindt’s watercolouring is irrelevant and unimpressive and Marie Enger’s lettering is rough and unfitting. You’d think that a World War II story would know how to translate the emotions felt by the characters—especially in a series that is known to dive deep into the psychology of its characters—but this one just needs to back to the drawing board.

Black Hammer ’45 is a visually disastrous tragedy expanding a thought-provoking series into uncharted World War II territory only to see it crash and go up in flames.


EXHIBITA

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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

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23 thoughts on “Black Hammer ’45 by Jeff Lemire

  1. Ah dang Lashaan! But I do agree with you on the mediocre artwork or rather, as art is subjective, not to my taste anyway. Simplistic drawings etc. I had seen it on your IG and it was my first thought!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am soo sorry that this one was a disappointment, Lashaan! 😔 When I saw your tweet and then the cover and the title, I thought that it must have been an impressive one but alas! ☹️☹️

    STILL, WOULD YOU LOOK AT THAT INTRO?!!?????!??!!!??!?! 😱😱😱😱😱😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍 I mean WHAT THE FUCK?! WHY IS IT SOO BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN?! IT’s JUST…..I LOVE IT SOO VERY VERY MUCH OKAY?! ❤️❤️😍😍😇🦋

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Youch! That art does indeed look truly awful and a shame as the concept sounds right up my street as I love anything connected with World War II, I hear a lot of good things about Black Hammer overall but at least I know this one is to be avoided if I ever dip my toe into the BH universe. Great write-up my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep. Matt Kindt’s artwork is usually a tough sell. It works for some of his solo work, if you allow it to grow on you, but otherwise, it’s usually awful to me hahah

      I could only honestly recommend the original BH series. I have a couple more of the spin-offs to check out but so far they haven’t been that essential. Thanks for reading, Chris! 😀

      Like

  4. Oh nooo another bad book for you, Lashaan 😞 The artwork looks so weird haahha 😂 I kind of see the “artistic style” but the box with the thing (no idea what it is) does “ratatatata” looks just like something I could draw myself, which is definitely not a compliment 😂
    Great review anyway, my dear 😍

    Liked by 1 person

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