At the end of a busy Friday at San Diego Comic-Con, I found myself nestled into the Dark Horse booth in their lounge area. It was quiet, sparse, and one of the first calm places I had come across after fighting the crowds of the exhibition floor. As I was waiting for Jeff Lemire, the prolific comic writer who has written such classics as Essex County, Roughneck, Descender, and the latest run of Marvel’s Moon Knight, I reveled in the comfort of having free space to move about without running into another human being. But I wasn’t there to talk to Jeff Lemire about any of those comics I mentioned before; I was there to speak to him about his ever-expanding book series, Black Hammer, and the universe growing around it.
I am an avid fan of Black Hammer and jumped at the chance to talk to Lemire about the original farmhouse series, Age of Doom, Sherlock Frankenstein and The Legion of Doom, Doctor Star, and The Quantum Age. The Black Hammer universe, aka the Hammerverse, is a winding tale that traverses time and different dimensions. The original comic, The Farmhouse Saga, centers on retired Golden Age heroes who find themselves trapped in a dimension where they must blend into a small rural farm town—all the while trying to solve the mystery of how they got there and how they are going to get out.
Black Hammer is unique in the way that it isn’t about the heroes’ heroic past but more about their present and flawed personal lives. I wanted to talk to Lemire about the thread that weaves the Hammerverse together: the Weber family. Black Hammer is not only the name of the series but the name of a hero within the books. His mantle is eventually passed down to…
…his daughter Lucy at the beginning of Black Hammer: The Age of Doom, and then later in The Quantum Age, which takes place 2,000 years after the original series when Hammer Lass is now the holder of the Weber family heirloom. I wanted to know why the Weber family is so essential to the Hammerverse.
“I don’t know how that happened,” said Lemire. “You know, originally the idea was these five good characters on the farm, you know, and that was the core idea that I started building with and Lucy was never part of the original plan that I had. When I first started writing the series and developing the first art, I came up with using her as Black Hammer’s daughter as a device for the reader to kind of enter the world. But I don’t know; I just fell in love with it. It became more about Lucy and more and more as I wrote just naturally, and now she’s my favorite character, and I feel like she is the heart of the whole [thing]. Now it’s all her story. That wasn’t the intention, but it kind of just happened as I wrote and now she is Black Hammer, and she will be the core of the universe moving forward.”
What I love most about this series is that it centers on a Black family’s legacy, and has strong women carrying both the torch and the entire Black Hammer universe on their own. It’s such a radical choice for Lemire to center his whole superhero comic on a family of Black heroes, which is something I don’t often see in comics. I asked Lemire if he ever considered creating comics about the heroes before they ended up on the farm, back in their heyday of fighting crime and doling out justice.
“Um, I don’t know, it’s a thing of, well, if you just did a straight story of Golden Gail in the Golden Age, I guess that could be fun, but it needs to be a really, just a fun story because the whole thing about Black Hammer is taking all these different superhero elements, but kind of looking at it from a different view. If you just did a straight superhero story of Golden Age, it wouldn’t have that other layer to it. I would need to find that. So there’s no plan yet to go back to those.”
This question led to an interesting tidbit where Lemire revealed that the main Black Hammer story on the farm does, in fact, have an ending.
“I’ve written [the Black Hammer farmhouse ending] a long time ago, and I know I’ll miss the characters when that part’s done, so I’m sure I’ll find ways to go back to them… Now the good thing is the way I’ve expanded the universe around it, there’s all these other places to go with it. I don’t want to spoil it. But I would think that Lucy’s story might continue on past what happens with the farm.”
With the most recent Hammerverse spin-off, The Quantum Age, being set so far in the future, it’s not expected to hold any significant connections past Hammer Lass’ family connection and the world of heroes. But Lucy, The Quantum Age’s lead and a direct descendant of the second Black Hammer, is an integral part of the series.
“You’ll get her story; I think it’s issue three or four, I don’t know which, but wanted to focus solely on her and you’ll learn exactly how she got the hammer. So you’ll see that, and there are some other things coming in. Quantum Age now seems like one thing, but as it gets into issues three or four, it starts to have really significant connections to the farm story that people won’t see coming […] There are big, big connections, and it’s more connected than any of the other [spin-offs], in a really cool way.”
As a fan and writer, I can’t wait to see how Jeff Lemire wraps up the farmhouse saga and the new revelations that will come from The Quantum Age. With a series that has Black women leading the way, excellent writing, and fantastic art, the Hammerverse is undoubtedly going to become a comics classic.