Heroes & Villains: E.A. Henson Turns 40, Reads Black Hammer/Justice League, Ghosted in L.A.

So…I turned 40 a few days ago. I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the idea of entering my fourth decade and I existed in a state of denial all the way up until the day in question. I’ve long treated my birthday as just another day much to my mother’s dismay. Still, tradition dictates that I be told the following four things: 1) My mom had to sit on a copy of the 1979 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue on the way to the hospital. 2) The doctor that delivered me was drunk an reeked of booze. 3) I was quiet at birth and they thought I was dead. 4) I was the cleanest newborn my mother had ever seen and I had “perfect hair.”

Combining that with the fact that I was once told by my parents that they very nearly bought a golden retriever instead of having a kid and you’ll start to get an idea of the psychological stew that my mind is comprised of. These column preambles are becoming less about comics and more about me working out my neuroses in a public setting. Had I known of this avenue years ago I would have spent much less money on out of network therapists.

Now, I’d like to say that my 40th passed without incident or even that I was thrown a surprise party attended by friends, family, and various well-wishers (which, for the record, I would have despised) but those would be lies. My father decided to surprise us all by having a minor heart attack.

When I write “minor heart attack” it seems to me very much like a mixed message. Whenever I hear or read the words my mind conjures up an image of Glenn Ford collapsing on the dusty driveway leading to the Kent family farm, his family rushing to his side. The reality of it was that my dad told my mom he wasn’t feeling quite right and they went to the ER where they found…nothing. Only upon closer examination did they discover the “minor heart attack.”

Various doctors, nurse practitioners, physicians assistants, and my mother (a retired nurse) regarded in much the same way they would discuss the gas a patient was experiencing if they were lactose intolerant. A couple of days, a battery of tests, and a cardiac catheterization later, he was back in the room with his roommate who seemed to be continuously farting and is probably dead now based on how they smelled.

A conscious choice is very much being made on my part to find this all darkly humorous. I’m not saying that my father wasn’t in any peril, that would be a straight-up lie…but we both got a good laugh after he said his roommate’s CPAP mask made him look like Tom Hardy’s Bane.

Plus, all that bedside waiting gave me a LOT of time to read some comics.

Black Hammer Justice League

Black Hammer/Justice League: Hammer of Justice! #1
Jeff Lemire (W)
Michael Walsh (A)
Dark Horse Comics

I’m a big fan of Jeff Lemire but the one problem I’ve had with his work is that he’s so prolific I find it hard to keep up with his various ventures. So when the advance copy of this crossover hit my inbox I was the tiniest bit embarrassed that Black Hammer had escaped my notice up until this point.

Mercifully, The World Of Black Hammer Encyclopedia hit stands last week and I was going to review it but the power outage I experienced had other plans for me. It would have been a nice button on my trilogy of character encyclopedia reviews from the last couple weeks, but oh well. In brief, I was able to use that to get up to speed for this week’s release and now I have a whole slew of comics to go read.

This issue feels very much like any great crossover opening should and I was pretty stoked to see Lemire’s take on the main Justice League after his run on Justice League United a few years back. It was a great first chapter and I don’t know how I’m going to wait for the next issue.

Ghosted in L.A.Ghosted In L.A. #1
Sina Grace (W/A)
Siobhan Keenan (A)

Last week I watched the local police taser and arrest one of my neighbours right outside of my back door (by this point I’m sure you’re rightfully questioning if I’m making any of this stuff up and I can assure you I’m not). It’s not surprising that I found the concept of Ghosted In L.A. quite alluring as I’d much rather have ghosts for neighbours than what I currently have to deal with.

This book introduced some much-needed fun into my weekly reading session and Grace paints a very realistic portrait of a young person starting out on their own. As a former young person myself, I too have been I the position of making a cascading series of bad decisions but none of mine landed me in L.A. with ghost roommates. Which probably means I didn’t make the right wrong decisions but here we are.

In a super cool move in a book full of super cool moves, Grace includes some of his favorite L.A. comic shops in the book’s back page. In that spirit (pun!) Ghosted In L.A. also takes great care to highlight parts of L.A. not traditionally depicted in…well most everything ever made about L.A. “This city’s full of secrets…”

Grace and Keenan turn in a great first issue for Ghosted in L.A. full of lovely art, clever writing, and characters, both living and dead, that I’m looking forward to getting to know.

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