TITLE: Black Hammer/Justice League.
Story-Arc: Hammer of Justice!.
WRITER(S): Jeff Lemire.
Artist(S): Michael Walsh.
Colourist(s): Michael Walsh & Toni-Marie Griffin.
Letterer: Nate Piekos of Blambot.
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Books.
RELEASE DATE: April 7th, 2020.
GENRE(S): COMICS, SCIENCE-FICTION.
MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★☆☆.
Co-created with the help of artist Dean Ormston, writer Jeff Lemire was finally able to deliver a project that he has been working on for years: Black Hammer. Uniquely distinguished in terms of artistic vision, it also served as a beautiful and intimate love letter to Golden Age superheroes while focused on its own story-line filled with deception and a pursuit for happiness. While the main story-arc is now completed, it gave birth to a large catalog of spin-off series that varied greatly in terms of quality for both the story and artwork. This time around, with a cross-platform movie and television shared universe currently in the works, creator Jeff Lemire now embarks on an adventure that will allow him to crossover his Black Hammer universe with one of the most beloved team-ups belonging to DC Comics: The Justice League.
What is Black Hammer/Justice League: Hammer of Justice! about? Set in two distinct yet familiar universes, the story introduces an eerily mysterious individual suddenly arriving simultaneously on Black Hammer Farm and in Metropolis. While the six heroes of Spiral City (Abraham Slam, Barbalien, Golden Gail, Colonel Randall Weird, and Madame Dragonfly) continue to dwell in the past as they try to adjust their lives around their unbearable reality where they remain trapped at the farm, and the Justice League heroes (Superman, Batman, The Flash, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg) fight off a Starro invasion, the strange man accomplishes the impossible by warping the two teams into one another’s universe. It is only through trust, communication, and acceptance that these heroes can work towards solving this unwarranted anomaly. This stand-alone crossover event collects Black Hammer/Justice League: Hammer of Justice! #1-5 as well as pinup art by various artists.
“Maybe so, but all stories end eventually…”
– Jeff Lemire
Cross-publisher crossover events tend to struggle immensely in developing a coherent and wholesome story. It’s inevitable. If the reader is unaware of either universe, there’s a significant chance of falling through the cracks and being incapable to understand the appeal of such a story. It wasn’t the case for writer Jeff Lemire. He does a commendable job in trying to summarize the grander themes that are usually at play within the Black Hammer universe to try and give these characters some foundation to work with. This issue is also almost non-existent when it comes to the Justice League since their reputation precedes them. This allowed him to quickly establish his characters and focus on the story at hand.
But that doesn’t stop this story to find its own share of issues along the way. The premise is excellent and allows a fascinating take on both franchises, revealing the similarities and differences between both casts in an explicit fashion. Writer Jeff Lemire even integrates a few of his metaphysical elements from his Black Hammer universe to maintain that series’ identity. However, once the antagonist is revealed, the story goes down a slippery slope, a descent into mundanity. In fact, the action sequences become conventional, the resolution is obvious and predictable, and the dialogue loses authenticity, especially between the characters from both universes.
Partnered with artist Michael Walsh, this crossover event does also succeed in delivering some style to the journey at hand. Complemented by a tricolour scheme, the character designs respected the original source material of each of their universes and offered a coherent vision that justified the crossover event. Splash pages also presented some stunning moments that captured the magic of each of these worlds while also accentuating critical moments in the narrative. On top of that, the artwork was able to convey the emotions of the characters but didn’t always go all the way to turn this crossover event into a psychological and individual journey for these characters. If anything, this serves as an entertaining entry point for readers who aren’t necessarily accustomed to these heroes.
Black Hammer/Justice League: Hammer of Justice! is a decent crossover event exploring two distinct yet similar universes.