Indie Comics Review: BLACK HAMMER: VISIONS #5
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Leonardo Romero
Colour: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Black Hammer: Visions #5: Eisner nominated writer Kelly Thompson and her superstar Marvel collaborators on Hawkeye Leonardo Romero and Jordie Bellaire team up once again for an action-packed Black Hammer one-shot that pits the powerful Spiral City vigilante Skulldigger against a new and cunning thief that is sure to leave him with scars.
Black Hammer: Visions #5 features an adventure of the vigilante Skulldigger. Many of the characters in Jeff Lemire’s universe are pastiches of characters from DC or Marvel comics. Skulldigger appears to be primarily Spiral City’s answer to the Punisher. The visual similarity is evident, considering he wears a black and white costume with a skull motif. Plus, he also has a propensity for using deadly force against criminals.
The major difference between Skulldigger and the Punisher is that he doesn’t share Frank Castle’s love of firearms. Instead, he uses a skull-themed weight on a chain to bludgeon criminals with.
In this story, Skulldigger encounters a female thief called Bijou. Even though Skulldigger seems to be an analogue for the Punisher, their relationship seems much more like the one between Batman and Catwoman. Unfortunately, the burgeoning romance is cut short.
Bijou’s criminal acts are actually a campaign targeted against a wealthy industrialist who is polluting the environment. Thus, she’s more of an ecoterrorist than a thief, incorporating elements of Catwoman and Poison Ivy. She tries to enlist Skulldigger to aid her in her vendetta, but he informs her, “If you do this, I’m going to have to stop you”. This puts the vigilante in a quandary between his feelings and his sense of duty.
Skulldigger opts to refuse to help her, which leads to her enlisting Grimjim. Grimjim is Spiral City’s equivalent of the Joker – and immortal. This turns out to a catastrophic mistake with tragic consequences. Thus, Skulldigger is left regretting his choice. But could he actually have made a different decision? I have to wonder if this will lead Skulldigger to rethink his crusade and lead to any evolution in the character?
Unfortunately, the nature of this series means next issue will feature a new story with a different cast, so it’s unlikely we’ll see the aftermath any time soon. But it would be interesting to see if Kelly Thompson’s story influences Lemire’s future stories featuring the character.
Originally, I didn’t think that anyone but Jeff Lemire could be properly write his characters, but this series disproves that notion with each issue. There hasn’t been an issue yet that has failed to do justice to Lemire’s World of Black Hammer.
In Black Hammer: Visions #5, Kelly Thompson and Leonardo Romero provide a Skulldigger story that’s a worthy addition to the Black Hammer mythos. The experiment of letting other creators play with Jeff Lemire’s toys continues to reward readers with some fantastic stories.