The future of Black Hammer continues in Quantum Age. This issue explores the super smart android Archive V, the former leader of the Quantum League as he left the safety of his homeworld and hive mind to create a team of young super heroes that eventually ended in death, heartbreak, and fascism.
I’m continually impressed by how writer Jeff Lemire is able to create characters and instantly make me care about them, as if I’ve been reading their adventures for decades. With every new hero that shows up in the world of Black Hammer, it’s like I’m discovering some long lost part of my childhood. Archive V is no different.
It is easy to draw parallels to the Legion of Super Heroes with the Quantum League and Archive V is obviously Brainiac 5. While the are some definite similarities, that’s where the comparison ends. Lemire takes you on a personal journey into these characters lives, moving way past a simple homage and into entirely new territory.
Archive V’s life begins with aspirations of more. He sets out to become independent, breaking free from the hive mind of his home, where being unique is frowned upon. By experiencing the universe and having all these adventures, he learned so much about people and humanity, but it all ultimately ended in tragedy. It’s tough to see him go from this bright-eyed upstart to a humbled, broken man.
Despite his robotic appearance, Archive V shows some real humanity. Artist Wilfredo Torres infuses him with an infectious personality. He’s not as culturally inept as other androids in pop culture. He’s logical, but can still interact with others like a normal person. That definitely comes through in his design. You get an immediate sense of hope just by looking at him.
There’s a great sequence that starts with a super close-up of Archive V’s brain, to the point where you can’t really tell what it is until Torres starts panning back. It glows with this unearthly green energy. Colorist Dave Stewart creates a definite sci-fi feel to Quantum Age, not only with Archive V, but the other aliens that show up throughout the issue.
Archive V and his robotic brethren speak how you’d think they would. Letterer Nate Piekos uses a font where every letter is the same exact height with no variation. They’re collected in square word balloons, which contrasts with the natural quality that the character portrays in his mannerisms.
Knowing how things play out in the present, it’s interesting to see how these characters started out. Lemire is filling in the gaps in the timeline to show how something so promising could have gone so horribly wrong. Again, this is based on some characters that we only just met, but we’re so instantly invested in their lives.
Quantum Age #3 ends in a jaw-dropping cliffhanger. My mouth was literally agape when I got there. Black Hammer continues to redefine the super hero genre and Quantum Age is a welcome addition to this universe. No one should ever doubt that super hero comics could tell compelling and thought-provoking stories with something like this out in the world.