We’ve seen Black Hammer in the past and the present, now we’re heading into the future with Quantum Age: From the World of Black Hammer. If the original series was like this version of the Justice League, and Doctor Star was like Starman, this one is like the Legion of Super Heroes. Set one thousand years in the future where a young Martian must find the remnants of the Quantum League, a group of heroes who were run out of town after a disastrous battle 25 years prior.
In the hands of a less talented writer, something like Black Hammer would not work as well. Jeff Lemire pays homage to classic characters and tropes of the super hero genre without it feeling like he’s just copying what came before. It’s a delicate balance that speaks to the aspects of the genre that made us fans in the first place.
It helps that there’s a great story involved too. Quantum Age picks up with a solitary man trying to make his way through a soldier-infested area. We quickly learn that he’s an alien and that’s not going to fly in this part of the world. Since he’s not human, he’s hunted like an animal. There are some parallels to today’s political climate here too.
One aspect of Quantum Age plays with the idea that one person is not the same as an entire people. Just because some Martians are bad, does not mean that all Martians are bad. The same can be said for people in the real world. This guy is trying to right a wrong which has led to atrocities over time. He needs heroes to do that.
The Quantum League would fit right in with the Legion. They have fun names like Storm Girl and Hammer Lass which cool sci-fi costumes inspired by the heroes of the past. Artist Wilfredo Torres is the perfect choice to bring all this to life. The designs featured with all these characters are spot on and give you an instant idea of what to expect from them. They’re full of hope and life. Coming off of a series like Black Hammer: Age of Doom, that is desperately needed.
This comic also introduced me to my new favorite super hero, Erb. It’s a telepathic floating space armadillo and now I want to learn everything about him. When is the Erb action figure coming out? Erb communicates through thoughts with these spiky green word balloons adding to his otherworldly aura. Letterer Nate Piekos differentiates these from the other characters.
Of course, it’s not all bright and sunny as Quantum Age bounces back and forth from the present dystopian nightmare and the events that led to it 25 years earlier. Colorist Dave Stewart sets the tone of these right away so you can see how different they are. While the earlier time period has that vibrant quality to it, the present is grittier and darker.
More Black Hammer is always a good thing. The series has been on point since it started. These additional comics serve to further expand the world and in this case, take it way into the future. The series also promises to shed some light on what really happened to the heroes that vanished a thousand years prior, tying it back to the main narrative even more. Lemire is building a universe here, taking the best parts of what came before and building on them to create something new and exciting.