When Black Hammer began in 2017, co-creators Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston only had the original deconstruction of a superhero team stuck in a farm town in mind. With Ormston needing to take a break in production, Lemire began what would be the first of four explorations into the other corners of the universe, Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil with David Rubin. It put the spotlight on the villains of the Black Hammer world. There, readers were introduced to Cthu-Lou, the Lovecraftian plumber and revealed in his home life that he had a daughter like him, named Cthu-Louise.
On December 12, Dark Horse Comics is releasing a Cthu-Louise one-shot written by Lemire, with art by Emi Lenox (Emitown), colors by Dave Stewart, and letters by Todd Klein. The variant cover is painted by Jill Thompson. SYFY WIRE has the exclusive first look.
“Cthu-Louise was the case of story where in a crazy world of superheroes and monsters, if you were one of them, and you just happen to be one of those monsters, and not by choice but by birth, and you had to live with that,” Lemire told SYFY WIRE. “I thought that was just a great metaphor for what we all feel like growing up, the horrors of high school and adolescence.”
As seen in the preview, Lemire has a penchant for writing children with a particular level of acerbic bite in stories such as Essex County and Sweet Tooth. Cthu-Louise shows the anguish and torment of growing up as a supervillain’s offspring. “Ever since my first project (Lost Dogs), I’ve always enjoyed writing child protagonists that’s caught up in a world that’s big and scary to them and coping with it. The sidekick characters (in superhero comics) are the closest thing we get to children being caught up in those worlds, but they’re rarely a realistic point of view.”
For this collaboration, Lemire got to work with Lenox again, who he co-created Plutona (Image) the story of five school kids whose friendship is tested after stumbling on the corpse of the greatest superhero. “Emi's style has a real sweetness, an innocent look that is perfectly suited to Cthu-Louise’s personality, and I thought to juxtapose it to the more horrific things that happen would create an interesting tension. You’re not used to seeing horror rendered in that clean manga style – I love finding artists that give you the opposite of what you’d expect to see in that genre or story in that style, and that can be real interesting.”
“Cthu-Louise is this weird combination of really cute and really grotesque.”
With the Black Hammer universe continuing to grow and become fertile source material for the recent TV/Film development deal with Legendary Entertainment, Lemire has no master plan for how Black Hammer grows and expands, though each spinoff goes under the scrutiny of whether it belongs.
“There has been ideas that, after I got into it, didn’t feel right, or it wasn’t screaming to be told, so I shelved them," Lemire shared. "It’s all driven by my creative whims, which for me is great. If there's a story I really want to do, and have a really great artist to work with, I’ll do it, and that’s the best place to be creatively."
“I don’t just want to do straight, generic superhero stuff (for Black Hammer). It has to have a twist or an angle at looking at superheroes that’s unique or different, because if not, there’s not much point in doing it."
It will be interesting to see readers' reactions after reading Cthu-Louise. Lemire says there’s no follow-up story in the works, but he loves the idea that we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg, with potential for more underneath.
“Cthu-Louise hints at another big piece of the universe, and it’s there now. I’m sure I’ll go back, but nothing imminent right now, and if not, it feels like a very lived-in world.”
Read our five-page preview below, and then look for the entire Black Hammer: Cthu-Louise one-shot at your local comic shop or in digital formats on December 12.