REVIEW: ‘Black Hammer: Streets of Spiral’

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Black Hammer: Streets of Spiral

It’s never been a better time to be a fan of Black Hammer. From a crossover with DC’s “Justice League” to more spin-offs than you can shake a stick at, Jeff Lemire’s world of superhero farmers continues to get bigger and better. Black Hammer: Streets of Spiral collects “Black Hammer: Giant-Sized Annual,” “Black Hammer: Cthu-Louise,” “World of Black Hammer Encyclopedia,” and even material from Free Comic Book Day 2019.

This giant-sized trade has an equally enormous creative team. Published by Dark Horse Comics, Black Hammer: Streets of Spiral contains material written by Jeff Lemire, Tate Brombal, and Ray Fawkes,  colors by Dave Stewart and Sharlene Kindt, with lettering by Todd Klein. Black Hammer: Streets of Spiral’s all-star team of artists includes Dean Ormston, Ray Fawkes, Matt Kindt, Nate Powell, Emi Lenox, Mike Allred, David Rubin, Tyler Crook, Dustin Nguyen, Wilfredo Torres, Christian Ward, Tonci Zonjic, Brian Hurtt, Lucy Sullivan, Marie Enger, Rich Tommaso, Sandy Jarrell, and Sina Grace. 

You’ll find plenty of material between the pages of Black Hammer: Streets of Spiral to keep longtime Black Hammer fans happy. The volume’s first entry, Black Hammer: Giant Sized Annual pulls double duty. An anthology, the issue finds transdimensional oddity ‘Col. Weird’ tracking a tentacled terror throughout time and space. Along with the Col, we hop across five Black Hammer stories, each focusing on one of the farm-bound heroes. Like most annual comics, “Black Hammer: Giant Sized Annual” doesn’t progress the series’ plot. But as a one-off anthology comic, it serves as a perfect starting point for new readers.

Lemire wears his influences on his sleeve and nowhere is that more apparent than the World of Black Hammer Encyclopedia. If you flip through its pages you’ll find dead ringers for everything from DC’s Legion of Superheroes to EC Comics Tales from the Crypt. While they may be well-worn archetypes, Lemire never fails to bring them to life. “Black Hammer Encyclopedia” has all the charm of a DK Character Encylopedia, providing detailed backgrounds on Black Hammer’s host of superpowered sluggers. Each character bio is accompanied by a character portrait from one of the trade’s talented guest artists.

If there’s one thing that sets the Black Hammer universe apart, it’s the series’ tone. Black Hammer: Streets of Spiral has one foot firmly in the Silver Age, while the other stands in the hardened realities of 2019. Sure, the martian Barbalien may be a shapeshifting detective but he also had to leave his homeworld when he was outed as gay. Other characters grapple with racism and domestic abuse. Queer readers and readers of color will find a comic universe where intolerance and bigotry aren’t swept under the rug, all while retaining its Silver Age charm. 

Each of Black Hammer‘s brightly colored characters has a beating heart full of beauty and pain. But not every story in Black Hammer: Streets of Spiral finds the balance between the two. In “Black Hammer: Cthu-Louise,” the daughter of a former super-villain’s daughter explores her family legacy as the emissary of Cthulhu. Even though her classmates bully her and her parents emotionally neglect her, all Louise wants is to be normal. After all, life’s hard when you have a face full of tentacles. While it’s easy to empathize with Louise, her story struggles to balance its humor with its heartbreak. 

Jam-packed with silver age style,  Black Hammer: Streets of Spiral is the perfect companion for your Black Hammer Library. While it’s geared towards longtime fans, Black Hammer: Streets of Spiral’s has enough adventure and backstory to make for a perfect starting point for new readers. 

Black Hammer: Streets of Spiral is available now wherever comics are sold.


Black Hammer: Streets of Spiral
4.5

TL;DR

Jam-packed with silver age style,  Black Hammer: Streets of Spiral is the perfect companion for your Black Hammer Library.