Review: BLACK HAMMER/JUSTICE LEAGUE: HAMMER OF JUSTICE #2
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Michael Walsh
Letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Black Hammer/Justice League: Hammer of Justice #2: After a mysterious stranger warps reality, the out-of-practice Black Hammer heroes must contend with both Starro and the rest of the DC universe. Meanwhile, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg try to adjust to life on Black Hammer Farm, while Colonel Weird and the Green Lantern try to uncover the secret behind this reality swap and the strange man who started it all.
The Black Hammer heroes and a number of Justice League members have switched places, but the switch seems to have some peculiar wrinkles. For one, the League have memories of having spent the last ten years trapped on the Black Hammer farm, but the Black Hammer heroes have been suddenly dropped into a battle with Starro.
Also, it’s interesting to compare how the League copes with their captivity to how their counterparts fared. Batman is having extreme difficulty coping. He’s the epitome of a fish out of water. He doesn’t like the wide open spaces with no tall buildings. He patrols the town looking for any sign of crime to fight, positive that the town holds a dark secret.
One might think that Superman would feel right at home, having grown up in a small town, and he appears to have acclimated to their situation, but we do see that he still pines for Lois and holds onto the hope that they might be reunited.
Things aren’t great for the Black Hammer heroes either. After a decade of inactivity, they find themselves thrust into a battle with Starro. Luckily for them, other members of the Justice League show up, but they aren’t happy to find their teammates missing.
I find it interesting that there seem to be a couple of occurrences that seem somewhat meta. Somewhat humorously, Golden Gail finds herself unable to swear in the DCU. “What is this @#^$?!” she asks, seeming to point to the offending word balloon. Also, Colonel Weird again utters a phrase that is also the title of the DC comic that featured Adam Strange: Mystery In Space.
It appears that Lemire is deliberately indicating that the characters are in a comic book. Lemire seems to be hinting at something about the nature of reality in the two universes. Does the plot actually hinge on the fact that both universes actually exist within the pages of a comic book? Colonel Weird’s reference to a silver age DC title could be written off to coincidence, but Gail’s inability to use profane language hints that something is off about the world they find themselves in.
I find the revelation that the Flash had sacrificed himself to save the other members of the League, in place of Black Hammer in the original version of that world’s history. It’s somewhat fitting, and perhaps a reference to Barry’s status as the “patron saint of the DCU” following his death in the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Also, considering recent developments in Lemire’s Age of Doom series, it could be that the rumours of Barry’s death are a bit premature.
There are also some great moments of comedy in the book, such as Barbalien’s reaction to meeting Martian Manhunter: “Pfft! Right! Sorry, everyone knows Martians are red.” Or Aquaman’s reaction to an apparently ten-year-old Golden Gail attempting to flirt with him: “Please stop looking at me like that.”
Overall, this is a great story and I can find little to complain about this issue other than another disturbing reference to Gail’s love life. However, this time it was used to great comedic effect, so it doesn’t seem as gratuitous this time.
Hammer of Doom is a fun book that is equal parts tragedy, humour, and thoughtful deconstruction of the comic book art form. Knowing Lemire’s love for the DCU, I knew that this crossover event would be something special, and Lemire is fulfilling my expectations admirably.