Today, IDW starts a revolution where everyone seems like a jerk and Dark Horse introduces us to a Martian who just wants to be loved. I’m looking at Revolution 1 and Black Hammer 3.
Written by John Barber and Cullen Bunn
Art by Fico Ossis and Tradd Moore
IDW has published licensed comics based on Hasbro properties for years, and now, they’ve decided to bring them all into a shared universe – Transformers, GI Joe, MASK, ROM the Space Knight, Action Man and Micronauts, all living on the same small world. Revolution is the first issue of the miniseries tying it all together.
The world is still reeling from the events of All Hail Megatron and the aftermath, and the Earth’s leaders – well, American officials – are a bit wary of Optimus Prime’s decision to bring Earth into the greater universe and to be able to communicate with other developed planets. So when Ore-13, the element kids of the 1980s probably know better as Energon, goes boom on Mount Olympus – yes, it’s a real place – everybody gets a bit trigger happy.
So GI Joe gets taken out of mothballs and they go after the Transformers, when ROM comes to Earth and kills some Joes. The Joes see this as an act of war, unable to distinguish between whatever ROM is and the Transformers led by Prime.
Here’s my issue – the Joes, who have always been portrayed as not only an elite fighting force but a group of good guts who want to do what’s best, come off as stereotypically hotheaded military goons spoiling for a fight and unwilling to hear the other side. Prime, who should be a master ambassador, is written like an aloof dunce who can’t comprehend what’s happening. Everyone in the book is unlikable. All these characters I grew up with are complete jerks and goofballs. It really makes it tough to get invested in what’s going on.
The story continues in the Revolution miniseries and the offshoot books (a checklist is provided in the back of the issue), but after the first issue, I’m really not interested in seeing where things go from here.
Black Hammer 3
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Dean Ormston
Writer Jeff Lemire continues to build the world of Black Hammer with this issue, which focuses on the Martian member of the team, Barbalien. We get a glimpse into his past – how he came to Earth, how he took on the identity of a police officer and why he feels so alone. The flashbacks fill in the blanks on Mark Markz – clearly based on D.C. Comics’ own Martian, J’onn J’onnz – as Barbalien attempts to find someone to connect to.
The first attempt he made – with his police officer partner – didn’t really end so well for him, but a trip to church leaves him hopeful that he found someone who feels the same way he does. Church may seem to be an odd place to find a gay partner, but he’s in a small town, so who knows…
Lemire also furthers the relationship between Abraham Slam and the waitress at the diner. After spending one night together at her place, she insists on meeting his family because, she says, they’re both too old to mess around. Abe is understandably hesitant, considering his “family” consists of exiled former heroes.
In just three issues, Black Hammer has become a wildly intriguing story with a deep history that keeps leaving me wanting more. Between Lemire’s storytelling and Dean Ormston’s beautiful art, Black Hammer stays on my “must read” list each month.