Jeff Lemire’s Black Hammer series with artists Dean Ormston and David Rubín has become the crown jewel of Dark Horse Comics, winning this year’s Eisner Award for Best New Series and introducing a rich superhero universe ready to be mined for more titles. While Jeff Lemire has done plenty of work for DC, Marvel, and Valiant, Black Hammer takes advantage of Lemire’s skill for building complex, engaging characters and worlds from scratch, pairing him with unique artists who give him the opportunity to stretch different creative muscles. That series is currently on hiatus as the creative team prepares for a relaunch next year, but Lemire and Rubín are sticking together for the first Black Hammer spin-off: Sherlock Frankenstein And The Legion Of Evil.
Debuting this week, Sherlock Frankenstein delves deeper into Spiral City, the metropolis abandoned by Black Hammer’s heroes when they were pulled into a parallel universe. It reveals more about the Black Hammer’s daughter, Lucy Weber, in the years following the disappearance of the heroes, when she tried to piece together what happened by whatever means necessary. That means investigating the supervillains who may have played a part, and this exclusive preview sends Lucy to the prison holding Spiral City’s greatest threats. Rubín’s artwork is more spectacular than Ormston, whose gritty visuals create a bleaker, more grounded atmosphere, and it’s fitting that Rubín would tackle the spinoff set entirely in a fantastic environment.
The unconventional, winding panel layout of the final spread spotlights how Rubín’s point of view distinguishes him from typical superhero artists, and that spiral motion through the spread is a clever way of reflecting the city’s name in the visuals. He makes exceptional use of bright pink to energize plain conversations, and his coloring in these pages is as ingenious as his compositions, from the golden glow of the flashback panel of the Liberty Squadron in action to the faded rendering of Lucy’s childhood memory. Rubín has a busy season with both Sherlock Frankenstein And The Legion Of Evil and Image Comics’ Rumble debuting in the next couple months, and the quality of his work is even more impressive considering how much he has on his plate.