If you caught the little nuance between the link and the actual post title you’ll see how I cleverly disguised the nature of this review, it’s both a review of Dark Horse’s Black Hammer #1 and the freshman Aftershock’s Captain Kid #1 while also having them clash in some epic battle of indie publishers, if you can even really call Dark Horse indie anymore.
Each book has a big name writer, Black Hammer boasting Jeff Lemire who’s doing way more books than I can count on my two hands, I have no idea where the guy finds the time, and Captain Kid reeling in the always impressive Mark Waid. From a writing standpoint it seems that picking up both Black Hammer and Captain Kid should be a no brainer, but if you’re on a budget and are saying, “Well Burke, I only want one of these books from these great writer’s, I don’t deserve so much great writing in one sitting.” well then sir or madame, we’ll go into what story you might prefer.
Black Hammer #1
Jeff Lemire joins Dean Ormston, who’s art I believed I recognized, but after a quick google search proved I did not, to create a super powered mystery. Five super heroes go into hiding after a final clash to save Spiral City and their multiverse takes the life of one of their beloved teammates and leader, Black Hammer. Now they’ve taken solace on a farm deep in the forest as they attempt to find a way back to their “world” without being discovered. The only problem is secrets aren’t hidden forever, and someone of the Black Hammer’s bloodline is snooping around in all the right places.
As I look back at it now, Black Hammer #1’s quality as a whole book shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did, on the surface it just looks like a nod to golden age heroes, but knowing it comes from Jeff Lemire should have been a giant red flag that it was so much more than that.
Captain Kid #1
Captain Kid on the other hand literally did nothing for me as I looked at it on the shelf of Cosmic Comics!, unoriginal and unimpressive were my first thoughts. But much like Jeff Lemire and Black Hammer, Captain Kid has Mark Waid in its corner, and that’s a strong fighter to have, so against my first impressions I picked it up, and Waid with the penciling of Wilfredo Torres did not let me down.
Captain Kid #1 is almost like bizarro Shazam, or reverse Shazam, instead of a kid turning into a super powered adult, a middle-aged and nearly retired Chris Vargas transforms into a young teenage superhero. This isn’t all that exciting on its own but with a fun cast of characters, mostly in his circle of friends and family, a conspiracy filled plot, and the inclusion of another hero who thinks the year is 1984, Captain Kid #1 proves it’s anything but ordinary.
“But Burke,” you say, “if this is dueling reviews, who’s the clear winner?” You are! That’s the easy answer, I can only tell you that you won’t be disappointed if you happen to pick both of these books up, but if you’re on a budget, which most of us are and want my opinion, fine, pick Black Hammer. The conspiracy filled Captain Kid #1 has a fun cast of support characters and a mysterious hero who thinks it’s 1984 but, it just doesn’t compare to the stronger cast and premise of Lemire’s Black Hammer. That and Black Hammer is only five parts for those of you with commitment issues. So go forth and get yourself some indies.