Published on September 14th, 2016 | by Dana Folkard
BLACK HAMMER #3 REVIEW
Summary: A compelling read that is filled with complex characters and a story shrouded in mystery.
Revelations and intrigue.
Black Hammer #3 explores the origins of Mark Markz, the Barbalien Warlord from Mars, who is partially inspired from DC’s J’onn J’onzz, a.k.a. Martian Manhunter. It is during this issue that we learn more about who Mark is, with regards to his character and his personal motivations. Not only do we learn about his past and what drives him, but we also discover how his past has shaped the person we see in the present. This is a story of isolation and loneliness, as seen through the perspective from someone who has lived their whole life as an outsider and has never been a part of anything, which has forced them to hide who they really are.
During this issue we get to see flashbacks to Mark’s past, juxtaposed next to scenes from the present. We learn about his origins on Earth and how he came to leave Mars and why. These flashbacks also explore some interesting encounters that he experienced and how they shaped him on an emotional and personal level. Mark definitely comes across like he is searching for some sort of meaning or understanding to his life, almost like he is lamenting over a life that he longs to live. A life where he doesn’t have to hide who he really is and can be who he wants to be.
Jeff Lemire reveals a lot to us during this issue, as he not only exposes some truths about Mark but also explores more of the personal relationships with some of the other characters as well. We are slowly starting to unravel the story bit by bit and it seems like in each new issue we discover more to each of these complex individuals. What I really love about what Lemire has done is the fact that he really draws you in to these characters. You can’t help but care about them and their plight. We get to explore them on a very emotional level and he really fleshes out their individual personalities and character. They are surrounded by darkness and corruption and it appears like this is slowly starting to infect them all.
One constant theme that seems to be echoed throughout all of the characters and each issue is the sense of isolation and loneliness. Even though they all have each other, they all seem to be searching for something else, like a deeper understanding and longing for more. With Mark, a reoccurring theme is that he has always struggled with being an outsider, even on his home planet of Mars. After assuming the identity of a cop, Mark sees a side to humanity and himself that makes him question who he is and what he is doing. The relationships that he has in his life are complex and confuse him as he struggles to relate to humans, even though he desperately wants to. There is a lovely moment between him and Gail that reveals a lot about these two. For a moment it appears that Gail feels something more and wishes for the feeling to be reciprocated by Mark. Perhaps something to be expanded on in future issues, as the story progresses
Dean Ormston’s art once again delivers. He really draws you in to every moment, whether it be the tormented and haunting faces, or the eerier quality of the mysterious town that they are trapped in, there is an immersive quality that really intrigues me in an unusual way. Each panel is beautifully detailed and his treatment of the individual characters is consistent and purposeful. Every face is strikingly detailed and I find that because of this, it reinforces the overall emotional tone of the story. I also enjoy the pulp-like quality to Ormston’s art in Black Hammer. There is a real spooky, sci-fi, space horror vibe to it all and it really transports the whole story to different time and place. Dave Stewart’s colouring works really well with Ormston’s art, heightening the tonal quality of each scene. His muted colour palette makes it feel like you’re viewing everything through a filter. I find that by doing this, Stewart is bringing a bleakness to this world, which is effective in reinforcing the austere nature of these characters and their personal stories and struggles.
With each new issue of Black Hammer, I’m learning more and more about this world, the characters and their personal stories. It’s an interesting world, filled with complex personalities that have a lot to reveal and space to grow. I’m excited with where this story is going and I look forward to learning more about what is going on and where it is all headed. There is mystery and intrigue littered throughout this story and I look forward to piecing together this cryptic puzzle and discovering more about this world and the characters within it.
I’m giving this issue 4.5 out of 5 stars!
Title: Black Hammer #3
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Creative Team: Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, Dave Stewart
Reviewer: Dana Folkard