Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Kelley Jones' The Hammer, by Kelley Jones

(pb; 1997-1998: four-issue comic book series)

The plot:

1977. When two short-sighted teens in Pawtuxet, Rhode Island resurrect the decades-dead “Witch of Aberdeen,” Isobel Grierson, they set into motion a Lovecraftian battle of cataclysmic wills between Grierson and Alaric Malleus, a warrior who loathes evil – a battle that will take place twenty years later.

1997. Alaric Malleus, “roughly translated, The Hammer,” is a cocoon-like alien creature that attaches itself to the head of a human host (as it does with Professor Wilcox, a willing flesh partner). It imbues its host with preternatural powers, an über-muscular body and other properties, all the while incorporating its flesh partners’ tastes – in Wilcox’s case, a yen for Charlie Parker’s music and greasy fast food.

What has woken Alaric, currently residing in Briggstown, Massachussetts, is the near-fruition threat of Isobel Grierson. In the twenty years since her physical rebirth, the scantily-clad, sexually promiscuous cannibal witch has become a celebrity psychotherapist whose “advice” (embrace, act on one’s anger) is preparing the world for the arrival of the Lovecraftian demons Grierson means to bring into our world.

Now, chauffeured and battle-aided by Carl (an ex-student of Professor Wilcox/The Hammer) and Alex Maybridge (a cranky medical intern), The Hammer is slicing, smashing and spell-casting his way toward Grierson, who’s well aware of her approaching nemeses. . .


Kelley Jones writes and illustrates this wonderfully dark, meaningful and hilarious comic book mini-series, which mixes satire (e.g., Grierson’s slutty outfits), uncomfortable veracities about humanity, H.P. Lovecraft's atmospheric horror and Robert E. Howard-eseque/pulpish action.

Take into account Jones’s effective, character-centric plot twists and his penchant for having The Hammer utter straight-faced one-liners (e.g., “Thankfully, I can count on your human capacity to commit genocide when the time comes.”), and readers like myself get a character and a comic book that delivers landmark thrills, laughter and chills.

Worth owning, this.

The Hammer made his next appearance in a comic book short, “The World in Which We Live”. This story was published in Dark Horse Presents, issue 129 [February 1998]. Regrettably, I don’t own this, though I do own The Hammer: Uncle Alex [1998, a single-issue comic book], the third comic book appearance of Malleus/The Hammer.

Jones's four-issue/original miniseries, as well as the story "The World in Which We Live," was later brought together in graphic novel form: this graphic novel is called Kelley Jones' The Hammer: One Big Lie.

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