Just Looking For A Normal Life
Tripwire’s contributing writer Tim Cundle takes a look at Dark Horse’s Black Hammer: Cthu-Louise…
Black Hammer: Cthu-Louise
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Emi Lenox
While the long-slumbering Lovecraftian mythos of our reality wait patiently for the stars to align so that they can once more stride the Earth and rule it as Gods, in Jeff Lemire’s alternate Black Hammer reality, they’re an everyday fact of life. So much so, that one of their number, a strangely familiar multi-tentacled, octopoid behemoth lives in the sewers beneath Spiral City, the home of superheroes and villains alike. It was this gargantuan creature who transformed ordinary plumber Lou Kaminski into Cthu-Lou, a super-powered, squid-headed being who briefly flirted with a life of crime before retiring to drink his days away in an alcohol induced stupor. But before he tried his hand at super-larceny and succumbed to despair, Lou was a relatively happy family man who fathered a daughter named Louise. Unfortunately, his offspring carried his genetic curse and, like her father, more closely resembles her “grandfather” than other children her own age and soon discover that when you’re the genetic descendent of an elder thing from beyond the stars, finding your place among your peers isn’t exactly easy .
Shunned and bullied in school and ignored by her parents, Cthu-louise just wants to be normal. She just wants to be like everyone else, and driven to breaking point by the cruelty and unending taunts of her fellow students and the apathy of her parents, she seeks help from the only person who can help her; her “grandfather”. Having heard his voice whisper to her at night, she at last acquiesces and descends into his realm to seek his aid. But the price he demands for his assistance is a high one and while Louise is ready to pay it, his solution to her dilemma isn’t exactly what she imagined
Cthu-Louise is astory of alienation that questions the fundamental idea of what actually makes a monster. Are monsters defined by their appearance, or are they manufactured by their environment and the relationships they forge in life? While psychologists have shifted back and forth and adopted different sides of, and positions regarding the nature versus nurture debate, Lemire makes it incredibly obvious which side of the argument he’s on (and it’s one that I happen to share) while also reminding the reader just how difficult and tough being a teenager can be. Aided in his storytelling by the pulptastic art of Emi Lenox which draws its inspiration from the Archie comics of yesteryear and the fifties heyday of EC Comics, Lemire has crafted a beguiling horror story with a social conscience featuring a central character whose plight makes your heart want to break and with whom you can, and will, totally empathise. And he, and Emi Lenox, accomplish all of that and so much more in a mere thirty two pages. Ia, ia, Cthu-Louise fhtagn… Tim Cundle
Black Hammer: Cthu-Louise is out this week from Dark Horse Comics.