By Oliver Gerlach
Mitch Hammer #1 is described by its writer as “silly fun with a splash of Nextwave, flaunting its girth in the manner of Shirtless Bear Fighter.” That’s not an entirely inaccurate description. Contained within this issue is a great deal of silly fun, clearly influenced by titles such as the two mentioned. Obviously it’s not Nextwave, because Nextwave is unique and special, but it shares a similar sense of fun and a similar use of wild balls-to-the-wall action for pure entertainment value. It’s the story of a construction worker fighting mad science at a local community college, and is exactly as serious as you might expect: not remotely.
Objectively, I know that the amount of story contained in a 24 page issue doesn’t matter; as long as it functions as its own unit of story, anything is fine. In practice, though, I often find myself a little unsatisfied by individual issues that feel disposable and like they haven’t tried to fit in any real development. Mitch Hammer #1 is not one of those issues. There’s a lot in here; it’s dense storytelling and action with no wasted space at all. This is a good value comic.
The storytelling may be dense and efficient, but it’s not perfect. Lewis has a great sense of fun and adventure, but there’s not all that much character to this so far. The protagonist, the titular Mitch Hammer, is something of a blank slate by the end of the issue; the supporting cast and antagonists are fairly well fleshed out, but Mitch remains a bland hero with very little character beyond shoutiness and a good moustache. Hopefully this will be rectified in the next issue, but for now it feels like an odd choice of priorities; by the end of the issue there isn’t even any indication as to why he’s a “construction mutant”. There are also a couple of points where exposition gets shuffled aside in the midst of the action, and I was left confused as to what was going on. Lewis claims on his website that this isn’t just silly action, but rather something with an emotional heart inside. So far, I haven’t seen any evidence of that. This first issue is straightforwardly a big dumb action comic with a great sense of fun and creativity.
A lot of that fun and creativity comes from the art; Pinto’s pencils are cartoony and energetic, with a really strong sense of dynamism and movement. His characters are distinctive and ridiculous, and he draws great action. Helped out by Russell’s spectacular colours, he produces a book with a really distinctive and engaging look. Just from the cover alone, this looks like a fun book, and that feeling continues throughout the issue. This is an art team that I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on in future; they’re doing great things, and I hope they continue to do so. Plus, Pinto and Russell have managed to produce what might be my favourite caterpillar in all of comics. It’s delightful.
Mitch Hammer #1 is a really fun ride, albeit not much more than that. If you’re missing Nextwave, this won’t really scratch that itch all that much, but it might tickle it gently. I have high hopes for later issues managing to fix my issues, and there’s a good chance that a later re-review once more of the story is available might raise this to a 5/5. It’s a beautiful debut issue with a lot of energy, it just doesn’t have all that much personality.
Mitch Hammer #1
Writers: Chris Lewis
Artists: Fernando Pinto
Colors: K. Michael Russell