Creator Jeff Lemire and artist Tyler Crook add more to the ever-expanding world of Black Hammer with The Unbelievable Unteens #3. This chapter keeps up the endearing pastiche of classic teenage hero comics tied into a bog-standard but entertaining plot. With an unsurprising yet well-executed dramatic storyline and phenomenal visual work, this issue helps keep the series compelling – even if it isn’t the height of what Black Hammer has to offer.
“Unbelievable Unteens comic book artist Jane Ito finds her world flipped upside down after discovering that the heroes from her comics were real and she was one of them. As she and the team of underdog heroes begin to reassemble, they find out why their memories were wiped, who was behind this evil plot, and what happened to the powerful foe the demonic Whitewraith!”
Writing & Plot
Jeff Lemire has always managed to mix clever tributes and compelling plots in his Black Hammer stories. With Unbelievable Unteens #3, he may have his most effective pastiche treatment yet, but with a more bog-standard teen hero plot. This issue carries over the obvious Claremont Uncanny X-Men tribute with its teen-drama and almost soap opera style love triangles. Lemire continues the flashbacks to these scenes from the Unteens’ past and contrasts them with their current situation. As more of the Unteens’ memories are restored, more complex feelings leftover that time arise. The overarching plot of this story is not fresh or unexpected.
This is the kind of team superhero story that has been done many times by many creators. However, Lemire is able to keep this story compelling just via his natural dialogue and plot presentation. Every reveal, conversation, and subtle plot point comes about in a steady manner through Lemire’s sense of pacing. The flashback moments help cut the storytelling up with their own unique style. The most fun part of this comic is watching Lemire ape Claremont’s Bronze Age style for his own uses. The inclusions of other Black Hammer characters and locations via namedrops make this comic feel like a classic Marvel or DC joint. This is some of the most successful homage-paying that Lemire has don in a Black Hammer comic thus far. While the plot remains standard fare, its execution remains top notch.
Time to gush once again about Tyler Crook’s art in Unbelievable Unteens #3. The Harrow County artist’s work here is once again an immense demonstration of his abilities. His expressive animations prove equally effective in two totally different coloring styles this time around. Much like the prior issue, this chapter sees Crook switching up his colors and overall approach. He switches from his modern watercolor style in the “current” story to a traditional flat colors and inks style in the flashbacks. This change is what really sells the Bronze Age X-Men pastiche. Crook’s pencils stay consistent throughout, with detailed characterizations and atmospheric color choices throughout. The way he utilizes his murky, fog-choked watercolors in the “modern” storyline sells the desperation and hazy state of the Unteens in their adult lives. He’s also able to draw that old-school style in a manner that would do Byrne and the crew proud.
Unbelievable Unteens #3 is a predictable but wholly entertaining chapter in the Black Hammer universe. Jeff Lemire pens a script that utilizes a generic team superhero concept but keeps it exciting with great character writing and a fantastic tribute to classic X-Men sensibilities. Tyler Crook gets to show off his chops at every turn, with his phenomenal watercolors and great old-school style mimicry. Be sure to grab this issue when it hits shelves on 10/13!