ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Black Hammer: Visions,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Black Hammer Visions #1 - But Why Tho?

Black Hammer: Visions #1 is written by Patton Oswalt, illustrated by Dean Kotz, colored by Jason Wordie, and lettered by Blambot’s Nate Piekos. It is published by Dark Horse Comics. “Transfer Student” focuses on Golden Gail, a superhero who transforms into a ten-year-old super-powered girl by shouting the word “Zafram!” The story is comprised of a series of flashbacks, where another of Gail’s fellow students Eunice recalls running into her over the years.

Originally created by Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston, Black Hammer has led to a veritable universe of spinoffs including a crossover with the Justice LeagueVisions spotlights the various characters within the universe, which is a great concept, but newcomers may be somewhat lost as this issue does require background knowledge of the characters. Luckily, the main series has been collected and is a fairly easy read.

Oswalt, best known for his comedic chops, tackles the inherent tragedy of Gail’s life, bringing his biting wit in the process. Gail is a 50-year-old stuck in a 10-year-old’s body, and while this leads to her acting out in school (as depicted throughout several montages) there’s an underlying sadness to her situation. Being stuck for so long in the same place and stripped of her powers is bound to take its toll on her, and readers slowly see that toll. Oswalt utilizes Eunice as the audience surrogate which works perfectly. Of course, someone would catch on to the fact that there are superheroes in their small town, and that said person would be over the moon about it. It also leads to one of the most heartwarming moments where Gail tells Eunice, and by extension, the audience, to “embrace their weird.”

Kotz and Wordie perfectly capture the same Golden Age aesthetics and tone that Ormston uses in his artworks, which will make Black Hammer fans feel right at home. Wordie uses what I can only call a “sepia” tone for the background; the colors feel warm and hazy, as if readers stepped into a Norman Rockwell painting. Kotz makes his characters feel like the age they’re supposed to be; kids look like kids and adults feel like adults. With Gail, there’s a mix between the two. Though she has the body of a 10-year-old girl, the perpetual sneer and wrinkles around her eyes hint at her true age. Other characters from Black Hammer make an appearance, including the robot Walky Talky and the dark sorceress Madame Dragonfly. Dragonfly, as befitting her name, is the stuff of nightmares with her decaying wings and lime-green skin.

Black Hammer: Visions #1 presents a moving and darkly hilarious tale that fans of the Black Hammer universe will enjoy, courtesy of Patton Oswalt, Dean Kotz, and Jason Wordie. Other creators are slated to present tales for Visions in the future, including Chip Zdarsky (Daredevil) and Kelly Thompson (Black Widow) among them. I’m looking forward to those tales, and to see what the other creators do with the world of Black Hammer.

Black Hammer: Visions #1 is available wherever comics are sold on February 10, 2021.

Black Hammer: Visions #1
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TL;DR

Black Hammer: Visions #1 presents a moving and darkly hilarious tale that fans of the Black Hammer universe will enjoy, courtesy of Patton Oswalt, Dean Kotz, and Jason Wordie. Other creators are slated to present tales for Visions in the future, including Chip Zdarsky (Daredevil) and Kelly Thompson (Black Widow) among them. I’m looking forward to those tales, and to see what the other creators do with the world of Black Hammer.