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Legendary Acquires Rights To Dark Horse Comic Black Hammer

It's time for a Dark Horse to get back in the cinematic race.

Legendary Entertainment has purchased film and television rights to Black Hammer, co-created by prolific comics writer Jeff Lemire. The scribe will serve as an executive producer on any projects to come out of the deal, along with series illustrator Dean Ormston, according to Variety.

First published by Dark Horse Comics in 2016, Black Hammer was hailed as a complex deconstruction of the superhero genre along the lines of Watchmen. The series has won two Eisner Awards, including Best New Series the year after its debut, and hails from the same imprint that Legendary mined for big box office bucks with Zack Snyder's 300.

Black Hammer explores the fate which befalls the titular hero and his allies after they repel an attack on the fictional Spiral City by an ultra-powerful villain known as the Anti-God. The heroes are successful in defending their city, but are all seemingly killed in the process. All is not as it seems, however. In a Twilight Zone-esque twist, the band of do-gooders are in actuality transported to the mysterious, tiny town of Rockwood — a place lost in space and time, and from which there seems to be no escape.

The cerebral premise is ripe for exploration on both the big and small screens, and Legendary appears interested in both. The production house has enjoyed a respectable amount of success with comic book adaptations, beginning with its very first release — 2005's Batman Begins. Legendary also brought the 2009 adaptation of Watchmen to the screen, and was responsible for inaugural DC Extended Universe effort Man of Steel.

As for Lemire, he's widely considered to be comics royalty. After working on the acclaimed series The Nobody and Sweet Tooth for DC's Vertigo imprint, he went on to work on a variety of DC titles such as Green Arrow and Teen Titans: Earth One before jumping ship to Marvel. There, he penned the acclaimed All-New Hawkeye, the revamped Moon Knight, and the Old Man Logan series, which served as inspiration for the 2017 feature film Logan.

Black Hammer has spawned a number of spin-off books expanding on its universe, and with the acquisition, Legendary hopes to build a comics-based Cinematic Universe of its very own. This is no idle speculation; Legendary Television Studios president Nick Pepper admitted as much in a conversation with the New York Times. "With our development team, one of our big initiatives was to bring in a superhero universe," said Pepper. "We were lucky enough that this was available."

Lemire is similarly optimistic about the possibilities, forecasting "multiple projects for film and television" to spring from the deal. With the patience Legendary has shown in establishing and building on its cinematic MonsterVerse, it seems like an ideal pairing of studio and creator.

We'll have more details on Black Hammer-related projects as they become available.