Title: Black Hammer.
Story-arc: Streets of Spiral.
Volume: One-Shots Collection.
Writer(s): Jeff Lemire, Tate Brombal & Ray Fawkes
Illustrator(s): Mike Allred, Tyler Crook, Ray Fawkes, Matt Kindt, Emi Lenox, Dean Ormston, Nate Powell & David Rubin
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics.
Release Date: September 24th 2019.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★☆☆☆.
Previously on Black Hammer:
Black Hammer (Vol. 1): Secret Origins.
Black Hammer (Vol. 2): The Event.
Black Hammer (Vol. 3): Age of Doom (Part One).
Writer Jeff Lemire and artist Dean Ormston have created an excellent hit comic book series with their Eisner-award winning Black Hammer superhero story about a group of heroes mysteriously warped to a sinister farm, isolated from their reality and stuck pretending to be living normal lives. Like many other comic book series, there are one-shot single issues that are released alongside the original run to either explore ideas that weren’t yet introduced in the series, to simply give fans original takes by other creative teams or to deliver more content for fans to relish in their downtime. These stories are often left uncollected in volumes and never read by those who don’t hunt down single issues but Dark Horse has now released a volume to bring these Black Hammer stories all (mostly) together in one place.
What is Black Hammer: Streets of Spiral about? This volume collects three stories and one universe guide that exposes the world of Black Hammer. Black Hammer: Giant-Sized Annual follows Colonial Weird on a bizarre time-traveling adventure as he warps his way into the past of many of the heroes, triggering unusual events. Black Hammer: Cthu-Louise follows a Lovecraftian teen who wished she could fit in with all the other humans and is invited to seal a deal with a monster if she is granted normalcy. World of Black Hammer is a world guide that features a myriad of artists as they illustrate characters and settings within Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s series. And a short story pulled from the Free Comic Book Day 2019 issue invites us to join the witch Madame Dragonfly as she gives us a tour of her house of horrors.
It was a bit expected going in this volume that there would be no logic to the compilation. The purpose of this collection was just that, to collect some of the floating issues that were created before they are forgotten. After all, why not make a quick buck by reselling them in this format? While it might be impossible to connect the dots between the issues, some of the stories had something to offer, without always being particularly impressive. In fact, the encyclopedia section was interesting and definitely a nice resource to have for anyone who needs a reminder or sneak peek at characters or settings of the Black Hammer universe. The annual issue offered a character-centric story that highlighted the oddness of Colonial Weird and reminded us of his suspicious nature while we reflect on his role on the destiny of our heroes.
The other stories in this volume were, unfortunately, subpar and barely brought anything new, besides having different writers and artists giving their take on characters that were initially only drawn by Dean Ormston. Without the substance, this volume essentially allows the reader to appreciate the different artistic styles and visualize the universe through different lenses that would have otherwise been impossible to imagine. While the included world guide is where the most artists were invited to work on, there was barely enough art to really display their talents. The art in Black Hammer: Cthu-Louise is where a completely different style was utilized but ultimately turned out too bubbly and cute to convey the strangeness and danger that was intended with the foreseeable plot twist.
Black Hammer: Streets of Spiral is a collection of unrelated Black Hammer comic book issues lacking in storytelling appeal and presenting too many different artistic style for any kind of appreciation to be given.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!