There’s a new volume in the Black Hammer series that came out recently. I haven’t had a chance to get it yet, but I did find a spin-off mini-series or two from creator Jeff Lemire.
The first I got to would be Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows.
In 1941, Dr. Jimmy Robinson was approached by representatives of the U.S. Government, asking the young astrophysicist to continue his research into stellar energies with the hopes of producing a weapon for when the United States enters World War II. Robinson jumps at the chance to actually continue the work he’s already started–this time being paid for it!–and soon taps into the energy, building a device to become the Golden Age superhero Doctor Star.
But this is set in the world of Black Hammer, a world where the gosh golly gee whiz spectacle of classic superhero stories is combined with much more mundane social and psychological problems that come with their powers and responsibilities in ways I am not sure I have seen in most mainstream comics. The same is true for Doctor Star. He may get everything he ever wanted professionally, both in and out of costume, but this success costs him more than he notices at first and more than he may be willing to pay.
Lemire clearly based this character off the DC hero Starman. The best Starman series was almost certainly the one from the 90s written by James Robinson, and Lemire in his notes says it is not a coincidence that Doctor Star shares a name with that writer. The end result here is a truly sad and heartbreaking story as Jimmy Robinson learns too late where his priorities should have been, and the beauty of Lemire’s writing is that it is clear, while there is a superhero twist to the man’s situation, he also had the problems he had well before he picked up a superhero alias. His accomplishments may have been great, but he has to deal with the cost of having them, and the last page makes the whole mini-series what it is. 9.5 out of 10 lost moments.