Review: ‘Black Hammer: Visions’ #1 Delves Into Golden Gail’s Tragic History

by James Ferguson

Overview

All of the heroes of the Black Hammer Universe are a bit tragic, but Golden Gail is more tragic than most. Learn the story of the hero trapped in the body of a young girl that’s just as moving and poignant as ever.

Overall
9/10
9/10

Golden Gail was once a hero of Spiral City with the ability to transform from a normal middle-aged woman to a small child with super powers just by saying a special word. After an encounter with the Anti-God, she and a few other heroes were trapped at Black Hammer Farm and she’s stuck in the body of a little girl, never to grow up. Black Hammer: Visions #1 gives us an idea of what life was like for Gail in this suburban prison.

Every character in Black Hammer is filled with a certain amount of tragedy. Golden Gail may just be the most tragic. She can’t have anything close to a normal life as she’s trapped in the body of a child. She wants to do adult things like smoke cigarettes, curse, and love, but she can’t do any of those things without drawing attention of the public, not to mention the police and child protective services.

What makes this comic stand out is the perspective. It’s not told from Gail’s point of view, but from innocent bystanders that encounter her in school. To them, she was just some weird girl that popped up at their school some day. Years later, they run into Gail again and she’s the same little kid. Writer Patton Oswalt says quite a lot about this character based on how she’s perceived by others.

There’s one scene in particular where Gail just loses it. The frustrations of being stuck in this situation come to a head and she starts screaming her magic word to no avail. Letterer Nate Piekos captures the anger in this very well.

Knowing what we know now about the very existence of Black Hammer Farm, this raises some questions about the whole reality of this situation and the lives of these other people. I’m curious about that, however it doesn’t distract at all from the very solid story.

Artist Dean Kotz brings a bit of an edge to this tale with some sharp pencils that convey the jaded qualities in Gail’s personality. Although she looks like a kid on the surface, you can tell that she’s a much older soul based on her facial expressions and how she carries herself. There’s a wisdom in those eyes, but also a wry sense of humor. She clearly knows more than she’s letting on…except when it comes to fractions. Those are tough.

Kotz’s designs for the other students are very real, showing emotions that everyone has been through at that age. These girls are experiencing doubts and fears that all of us have had. Coupled with the incredible colors by Jordie Bellaire and you get a rather poignant story. I love how Bellaire uses a lot of oranges and yellows, coinciding with the fall season and an overall peaceful tone that works well with the feelings on display.

More Black Hammer is always a good thing. This anthology series shows us other untold stories that are just as moving and awesome as ever. This is a moving and powerful comic and an unforgettable universe that is really upping the game in the super hero genre.

Black Hammer: Visions #1 from Dark Horse Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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