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Black Hammer, Vol. 1: Secret Origins

(Black Hammer #1)

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  5,570 ratings  ·  657 reviews
Once they were heroes, but the age of heroes has long since passed. Banished from existence by a multiversal crisis, the old champions of Spiral City--Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, Colonel Weird, Madame Dragonfly, and Barbalien--now lead simple lives in an idyllic, timeless farming village from which there is no escape! But as they employ all of their super abilities to free ...more
Paperback, 184 pages
Published April 25th 2017 by Dark Horse
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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 ·  5,570 ratings  ·  657 reviews

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Jan 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I didn't necessarily dislike this first volume, but for the most part, there was a whole lotta nothing happening for the vast majority of the issues.


Alright, so basically each issue features one of the main characters, focuses on their individual problems, and gives a bit of their origin story. The backstories all look a bit old-timey - golden age, silver age, get the drift. <--I liked it.


It wasn't really until the end when I got to Madame Dragonfly's stuff that I found myself
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Picked this up because I've read work by Jeff Lemire before and enjoyed it. I wasn't disappointed. The writing, characterization, and worldbuilding were all top-notch.

It's got superheroes in it, but it's not a superhero comic in any conventional way. Like most good stories, it's all about the characters. It's just that some of them happen to have cool powers. Best of all, it doesn't require any previous knowledge of existing mythologies to make any sense.

If I had to describe it, I'd say it's so
Read twice now, this is still one of my favorite Jeff Lemire comics for its world-building, humor, and sentimentality.

This is a love letter to superhero comics. By examining the origin of these borrowed characters and forcing them into his classic rural existentialism, Lemire somehow humanizes and emboldens them. He examines Golden Age comics, horror comics, comic tropes like DC’s “Crisis,” and characters that are akin to Adam Strange, Mary Marvel, Captain America, Martian Manhunter, Raven, and
Dan Schwent
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, 2018-comics
Spiral City's seven greatest heroes disappeared in battle ten years ago and awoke in a small town they couldn't leave. Will they ever find their way back home?

I've been hearing about Black Hammer for the last couple years and finally decided to give it a shot. I wish I would have been on board at the very beginning because this is some good shit.

Basically, analogues of Captain America, Mary Marvel, Martian Manhunter, Adam Strange/Captain Comet, Madame Xanadu, and Robby the Robot from Lost in Spa
4ish stars.

Combining retro superhero comics with modern indie sensibilities, this first volume is seriously cool. First of all, superheroes, duh, who doesn't love superheroes?! These superheroes, however, have a lot more in common with the Golden Age heroes of old than with the ones we see on big screens across the world.

Each issue in Secret Origins focuses on a different character's backstory in this mysterious "family" of heroes. To be honest, we're really only given the briefest of hints at
Michael Finocchiaro
Very entertaining! Black Hammer is kind of an old school comic that mixes some elements of the golden age comics like The Escapist and characters loosely inspired by the big ticket ones like Invincible, with a brilliant original story. The superheroes are stranded in a sort of para-reality for reasons not quite explained in this first volume. Abraham Slam, Barbie, Dragonfly...really clever fun names. After an initial introduction, we have some vignettes to fill in backstory to the principal char ...more
Sam Quixote
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Superheroes are transported to a mysterious farm and get new identities for no reason - and that’s Black Hammer!

You know what this title needs? A STORY! This first volume is all table-setting which is mostly why it’s so unsatisfying. Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston introduce their Golden Age superheroes, all of whom are derivative knockoffs of more famous characters: Abraham Slam (Captain America), Colonel Randall Weird (Doctor Strange), Talky-Walky (a generic robot), Mark Marz/Barbalien (J’onn J’
Paul E. Morph
Dec 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I initially picked this book up because I loved the cover. I went into it with some degree of wariness and cynicism, though, because it looked like yet another Watchmen wannabe book.

While it does hold up a funhouse mirror to the superhero genre, I really enjoyed it because it isn't attacking or ridiculing the genre but rather shows great affection for it. There were enough twists and turns to keep me interested. Also, there's that artwork!

Considering Dean Ormston drew this while recovering from
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
As Lemire says in the afterword, this is Essex County meets superheroes. Take all of the loneliness and isolation of his rural indie comics and insert superheroes. Our "family' of superheroes have been trapped in this little Canadian farm town for the last 10 years after fighting a Crisis-like event. Each issue concentrates on one member of the family and the book as a whole could be considered an introduction to our cast. Each character is an homage to a character or genre from the Golden Age. ...more
Jedi JC Daquis
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you love that Jeff Lemire trademark formula of loneliness and hopeless yearning induced by separation of worlds, mixed with a healthy dose of weird family/lover drama, you will definitely love Black Hammer. And its first volume is a slow-paced and carefully written introduction to a team of superheroes who somehow are "imprisoned" in a country town in what might be another universe. Secret Origins focuses on the what and the who about the characters, while deliberately postponing the answers ...more
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics, superheroes
It’s obvious that Jeff Lemire has a great love for many of the classic characters and stories of Marvel and DC comics. In Black Hammer he does something I nearly always enjoy: he takes these classics and files off the serial numbers so he can take them for a spin outside of the confines of their home universe. There is a long and hallowed tradition of this. Moore did it with the Watchmen; Busiek did it with Astro City; Warren Ellis riffed on it all over the place with Planetary; you could even s ...more
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
I didn't know what to think about this series, but saw a lot of my friends on GR reading it. I figured..why not? I am glad I did.

This is a weird tale about a bunch of Golden Age Super Heroes that saved the earth, but somehow managed to get trapped on a farm in a country setting that they can not leave. Their struggle to fit into a small town life that they are ill suited for. The entire team is composed of semi-misfits from a Martian warlord to a 55 year old woman with Shazaam-like powers trappe
Dave Schaafsma
Black Hammer is in the first volume Jeff Lemire’s love letter to superhero comics, particularly the Golden and Silver Ages of comics. He does superhero work for the comics Big Houses that I have never much been able to fully appreciate. Not enough heart. Flat dialogue that doesn’t quite fit. I prefer his indie northern Canadian farm comics, sad, anguished, father-son focused, family focused, though I also like his indie sci-fi stuff like Descender and Trillium, where he gets that sad heart thing ...more
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
Lemire is well know name in comic book world and since I started wonderful Descender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars I been curious about other work. Was Descender just a fluke, moment of inspiration of otherwise mediocre writer, or do we truly quality writer. Currently I'm leaning heavily towards the latter.

Black Hammer is combination two very different things, golden/silver age superhero comics and character driven drama. This graphic novel menages to give courteous nod to many classic superhero comics wh
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dark-horse
Masterpiece, engaging, memorable, these are the words that comes to mind when thinking about Black Hammer, this book not only pays homage to a lot of the golden age comics, it elevates the medium to a higher ground, series like these are the reason I love superhero stories so much, don't miss it. ...more
Dec 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics, dark-horse
Black Hammer, Jeff Lemire's new indie book, is yet another take on the superhero genre. It's not bad, but it's not very original.

The comic is about a team of superheroes who got stranded in some kind of village as a result of a crisis-like event. There is no actual explanation of what happened, but in each issue we get to see the characters' lives before and after the event. The after part is actually the best part of the story — even though their life in this village as a pretend family is not
Benji Glaab
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow!!! This was great I found this to have a good deal of mystery, and intrigue. So many things are left unsaid can't wait to have some answers in the next volume. The golden era was done well, I'm no expert but I found the convo humorous and corny kind of matched the era. Mind you this is only on display during the backstory segments. Where each character gets there own highlight for each issue of the volume.

Despite being super heroes the characters are very human feeling. Great characterizatio
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
Wow, I really enjoyed this one. Just when you think you've seen everything in the superhero genre, it's awesome that a writer like Jeff Lemire can come along with an original story that feels fresh.

You know in superhero comic book universes when a big epic crossover crisis happens because the publisher wants to reset continuity and get rid of particular characters that won't fit into the new mold? When a God-like being threatens existence itself and some of our heroes sacrifice themselves to sav
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics
I do not understand why I was avoiding this for so long..
Chris Lemmerman
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
[Read as single issues]
Say what you want about Jeff Lemire and superhero comics (and there are things to say) but when he does it right, he does it really right. Black Hammer is great stuff.

When...something (?) happens, trapping a group of superheroes in a farm town that they can't ever leave, they have to adapt to civilian life where no one can know their secrets. It goes about as well as you can expect. Each character is a parody of a different superhero, mostly DC heroes like Shazam and Marti
Vinton Bayne
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
WHAT THE HECK! Why did it take me so long to follow everyone's recommendations and read this? Such amazing takes on classic comic characters (slightly tweaked). Lemire strikes again, telling amazing stories and tearing into your heart as per usual. I love the art here as well. Everything pays a beautiful homage to comics early days. ...more
Wing Kee
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Now I know how Superboy Prime felt.

World: The art is fantastic, it's moody, the tone is informed by the muted art and the colors just ground it so well. This is not drawn like a superhero book at all. The world building is fantastic, it's slow, it's measured and it's all character driven. We see the world through the eyes and the context of the team and the pieces we see are truly a love letter to comic books and mainly DC comics which is my thing. Beautiful, haunting and small. I love the quiet
Stewart Tame
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Intriguing and fun! As Lemire explains in his Afterword, this story was originally conceived back when the notion of his working in the mainstream superhero genre was too fantastic to take seriously. Black Hammer is a love letter to the genre steeped in the indie sensibilities of his early Essex County work.

Once they were superheroes, saving Spiral City countless times from the forces of evil. After a climactic battle with the evil known as Anti-God, there was a flash of light, and they found t
L. McCoy
So the first book I finished in the new year... I guess it’s good for it to be a 3-star book so I won’t expect 2018 to be a good or bad year for books. But Lemire only getting 3 stars... wow...

What’s it about?
A group of superheroes from a different world get in an accident when fighting a villain and end up on Earth where things are kinda s***ty for them.

The story idea is interesting and unique.
I didn’t like the art in issue 1 but it gets better.
At first I didn’t care for the characters but
Jack +Books & Bourbon+
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well, it's been a long time since I read a comic book, but this one had been getting rather stellar reviews, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

I get a somewhat "Watchmen" vibe from this, though not at the same level. It's more "adult" than standard comic stories, and a little subversive. Yes, it's still a superhero tale, except our heroes are essentially incognito and laying low. It's not a witness protection type deal, but they are somehow stuck on a farm in a rural community. And not all of them
César Bustíos
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, graphic
That was pretty damn good, really enjoyed it. Good characters and worldbuilding. After reading Descender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars I decided to go for more Lemire, he can really create good stories.

Jul 22, 2018 rated it liked it
This was really just ok. A huge volume to try and get people interested but it didn't really reveal anything that makes me say this was great. No clue where this is going and with little substance for me to care. ...more
Vojtěch Rabyniuk
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you are writing a comics that is depressive parody you should know the original as good as possible and Jeff Lemire does.
He is undeniably taking a fresh and different look on a superhero genre and he is adding a bit of horror and bizarre to the mix on top of the mentioned depression. He is mostly taking DC comics as a source for Balck Hammer but he is not only draining out of DC but Lemire is creating here e heroic epos of his own. A sad one, hopeless one but still an epos.
Art of Dean Ormsto
Rory Wilding
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ever since Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons gave us Watchmen during the 1980s, the idea of superheroes who are not perceived as larger than life and are actually no different than the average joe has become an increasing one. In a most recent example, it would be Brad Bird’s Incredibles movies that explored the domesticity of former superheroes, something that feels very apparent in Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s Dark Horse title.

Ten years have passed since a group of Golden Age superheroes has myste
Skye Kilaen
Fascinating series about what happened to Spiral City's beloved superheroes after a cataclysmic event. Presumed dead, they're instead trapped in a small town in who-knows-where, living on a farm as a frighteningly dysfunctional faux family. The first volume gets us deep into the lives of this crew - the unrequited crushes, the despair, the sabotage from within... until just at the end of the book, an unexpected event occurs with the potential to change everything. Or, you know, just strand someo ...more
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I Read Comic Books: May BotM Discussion - Black Hammer, Vol. 1: Secret Origins 11 28 May 20, 2018 05:08AM  

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Jeff Lemire is a New York Times bestselling and award winning author, and creator of the acclaimed graphic novels Sweet Tooth, Essex County, The Underwater Welder, Trillium, Plutona, Black Hammer, Descender, Royal City, and Gideon Falls. His upcoming projects include a host of series and original graphic novels, including the fantasy series Ascender with Dustin Nguyen.

Other books in the series

Black Hammer (4 books)
  • Black Hammer, Vol. 2: The Event
  • Black Hammer, Vol. 3: Age of Doom, Part One
  • Black Hammer, Vol. 4: Age of Doom, Part Two

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