The Eisner-Award winning comic for Best New Series, Black Hammer is a mature love letter to superhero comics that caught its readers off-guard. There was no preparation for the way it would comment on the history of the genre, tickle readers with bittersweet nostalgia, while creating an instant affinity for heroes stuck in a crazy small town, with little hope for escape. We couldn’t help but recognize it for our own favorite titles of 2017. Since then, creators Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston had so much more in store, spinning off many more miniseries that dug into other corners of the Black Hammer Universe, also commonly referred to as the “Hammer-verse”.
First there was Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil, then Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows, and the current ongoing series, Black Hammer: Age of Doom. Another spinoff will hit comic racks on Independence Day, and it'll look so far down the lens of the Hammer-verse that the events of Black Hammer seem like fleeting memory — but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have an impact on this distant future.
SYFY WIRE has an exclusive preview of Black Hammer: The Quantum Age #1, and chatted with co-creator Jeff Lemire and artist Wilfredo Torres about it.
The Quantum Age is an extreme departure from the Black Hammer farm and even the events of Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil, as it is set 1,000 years into the future. After the reader gets their bearings straight, they’ll realize that they're still in the same universe that Lemire and Ormston introduced to us in 2016.
“I started thinking more and more about the history of Spiral City and of the Black Hammer world,” Lemire said. “As I built out the past in series like Sherlock Frankenstein and Doctor Star, I realized that I could also build forward.”
Although the more immersed Lemire was in the story, the more ideas presented themselves to expand out the Black Hammer universe, as a callback to the long tradition in superhero comics in which the world is built out far, into the future to see the impact of what happened in the present and past — thus setting in motion big changes, and impacting who the future superheroes are.
“It was a great way to explore some new themes and characters and also to build the legacy of the Black Hammer heroes further. I was also very interested in exploring younger heroes.”
In the present day of the first issue of The Quantum Age, there are multiple jumps back to what transpired 25 years prior to when the Quantum League was last together. The present-day story in The Quantum Age is what Lemire calls a chain reaction to what happened in team’s history.
Despite the change in scenery, Lemire and Torres assure readers that they’ll enjoy some of the surprising and unexpected ways how it will connect to Sherlock Frankenstein, Doctor Star, and Age of Doom.
Moon Knight fans may recall Lemire teaming up with Torres previously. His polished lines and vision of the future of the Black Hammer universe harken back to another time in superhero storytelling.
“I knew he would be perfect for not only capturing and creating the classic ‘Silver Age’ look I wanted for The Quantum League,” Lemire said, "But also for the more modern, dystopian feel that we would be balancing in this new series. His style is so clean and elegant, but also so versatile.”
“Jeff’s ideas for Archive V really informed the overall look of the world he inhabits for me,” Torres shared. “So that was the guideline that I followed. I also wanted the future to seem familiar to keep the story relatable to the audience.”
As with any Black Hammer story, how readers will relate to this futuristic story may depend on how in tune they are with current events, along with classic superhero tropes. Hammer Lass (yes, the distant relative of heroes Black Hammer and Lucy Weber) reflects on the current state of affairs, when she says, “There is no more ‘doing good.’ It’s too late to dress up in costumes and play games. The universe is f***ed.” The Quantum Age will tell the story of how the world got to this point and how it can be saved.
“I wrote this series about a year ago,” Lemire shared. “At that time, I could not have predicted the events in the United States of the last few weeks, but obviously, I was definitely reacting to the current climate in the world and America in particular. This is a story about unity and hope. I think we need those right now.”
The Quantum Age will run six issues long but given the loose and time-jumping nature of this universe, more could be in the works.
“Wilfredo and I have barely scratched the surface of this corner of the Black Hammer Universe. We end the series in, I hope, a surprising way that sets up some very interesting things not just for these characters but for the entire Black Hammer Universe moving forward.”
The Quantum Age: From the World of Black Hammer #1 by Jeff Lemire and Wilfredo Torres, with colors by Dave Stewart, will be released at your local comic book shop and digitally on July 4. Check this exclusive three-page preview of pages 4-6.