The Justice League and the heroes of Black Hammer Farm have switched places. It’s having mixed effects on both groups and it’s safe to say that neither of them is liking it much. These are people used to the bizarre and mysterious in their every day lives, so how do they handle these new surroundings?
Justice League / Black Hammer is a riveting character study for some heroes that we’ve known for decades and others that we’re still getting acquainted with. In the case of those like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, we’re seeing how they react when trapped in a real world without all the trappings of their usual adventures. Writer Jeff Lemire captures this well in the opening pages showing Bruce Wayne out on patrol in a beat up old pick up truck. There’s no crime in this town, but he can’t shake the need to be vigilant, just in case someone gets out of line.
This is a sad feeling in some ways, showing just how cut off these folks are from their lives. They’ve been stuck here for ten years which can break even the strongest minds. We know that Abraham Slam, Barbalien, and the others were here for just as much and we felt their pain, but it’s different with the Justice League as we’re more familiar with them thanks to all their stories over the years. Although it’s treading on a similar concept to what we’ve seen in the early days of Black Hammer, it gives the entire universe more weight.
Perhaps the saddest of this bunch is Cyborg. He’s trapped inside because of his appearance and he’s further cutoff from the world as this place doesn’t have anything resembling the internet. Imagine having a deep connection to nearly everything in the entire world, capable of going anywhere at any time and doing remarkable things and now being transformed to little more than a paperweight.
Artist Michael Walsh captures all of these feelings in a single, depressing panel showing Cyborg sitting alone in the dark. He’s connected to a few old machines in a feeble effort to feel something. This great warrior has been humbled.
Nearly every character is given some time to shine – or wallow in their sadness – in Black Hammer / Justice League: Hammer of Justice! #2. Letterer Nate Piekos distinguishes each of their thoughts from one another with different shaded caption boxes. This only applies to the Justice League as the Black Hammer heroes don’t express themselves in this way. This does lead to a fun exchange when Gail tries to curse in the DC Universe and finds that her words don’t come out the same way they did back home.
Walsh uses a different color palette for the Black Hammer world and the DC Universe to help keep them separated. Metropolis is a bright, shining city, which contrasts to the dark and dingy farm from Black Hammer. Walsh sets the tone for each side of the story with the colors.
This extends to Colonel Weird’s adventures in space with the Green Lantern Corps as well, which are trippy and bold. These pages work as an homage to some of the crazier stories from the Golden Age of comics. There’s one sequence in particular that stands out, when Weird takes John Stewart into the Para-Zone. This place is like a fever dream, full of floating eyeballs and mysterious planets.
Where the first issue of this crossover introduced the players and flipped the board over, this one digs its heels in to really develop both sides in this new status quo. The seeds of this grand adventure begin to bear fruit with some great meetings and solid action. It’s amazing and a little meta to see the Black Hammer characters meet the heroes they were homaging in their very creation.