Created by: Brandon Graham
Editor #1-#3: Shanna Matuszak
Editor #4-#5 & Production: Tricia Ramos
Pre-Press: Alejandra Gutierrez
Eugene has moved from Armadillum to Elephant on a planet of walking cities. He also appears to be skint. It’s not clear if vending machines are the only place to buy things, but he seems to use them a lot. Maybe that’s why he’s skint. Another walking city has been destroyed, and Eugene is one of the team tasked with fixing it.
There’s sci-fi fart jokes, weird TV shows and other bits of Eugene’s life being lonely in this dystopic city. I guess any future where people have to toil counts as a dystopia for me, and there’s a sadness that permeates as Eugene dreams of home.
The next part introduces, kills and resurrects (in a borrowed body) the fugitive Brik Blok, who crash lands on Sky Cradle, where much of the action occurs. Sky Cradle seems to be an artificial planet where severed index fingers act as keys, and the amount you have gives you prestige. Brik acquires a small monster friend who is very interested in humans and their severed fingers, and is kind of adorable. El, a friend of Brik’s, appears to have been kidnapped and forced to go through a series of trials.
Onwards we get a secret library of secrets, ‘erotic meditation’ and a whole bunch of other weird and wonderful ideas as I give up on trying to explain any more of the plot. It’s hard to do it justice. The author explains in the outro that this book is him processing depression, and that does come through. People experience depression differently, but sadness, loneliness and disorientation are common themes. Brik has a massive existential crisis, and he and Eugene both have parts where they are just existing, not living. I felt like that for a long time, but it’s not easy to articulate.
Rain Like Hammers initially caught my eye because the art reminds me of Kevin O’Neill’s work on Lobo and Marshall Law, a delightfully wonky but curiously detailed line style. There’s some brilliant perspective shots, unusual layouts and inventive use of text boxes.
There are so many ideas that some are just thrown out seemingly at random, threads to be picked up in another book or never, who can say? But the threads that do get picked up are compelling. Iain M Banks would have been impressed with the scope of some of the concepts here. I hope we get a second look at some of these characters, or at least this universe, but as the end of the book gives you an insight into its creation it doesn’t seem like Brandon Graham will be in a hurry to come here again.
This quirky sci-fi book is funny haha, funny weird, and slightly bewildering, but I enjoyed the ride. If you like weird stuff and don’t mind being a bit confused by what you’ve just read, I can heartily recommend this.