Names come with expectations. If a biker gang has members named Trash, Jocko, Bonecrusher, and Fluffy, you’re going to expect there’s a story there. And if the names are references, you’ll already have preconceptions based on the originals.
So when a major character is named “Sherlock Frankenstein,” you’re going to expect a detective who is a monster – or, maybe, if you’re more of a purist, a detective who creates monsters. If you’re told this Sherlock Frankenstein is a villain, that might be a little confusing at first, particularly the “Sherlock” bit, but you assume the creators know what they’re doing.
Until you realize they mean “Sherlock” in the kid-insult sense: this guy is kinda smart, but it implies no more than that. And they mean “Frankenstein” at about the same level: it sounds cool, and he’s old, like the Frankenstein story. Both words here signify “vaguely 19th century dude,” and the man with those names is a tinkerer-type supervillain with a silly circa-1900 origin (hero! villain! random transatlantic journey! long years as an always-failing villain! hero once more many decades later!) and no motivation other than “a sad thing happened to me, and so therefore the world is horrible and I will make it worse.”
Well, that’s disappointing. But superhero comics traffic in disappointment as much as they do in punching: it’s in the top five ingredients on the label. So it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that “Sherlock Frankenstein” is much duller and more generic than his name implied. That’s how superhero comics work.
And then we come to Sherlock’s big story: Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil ! You can’t even say it out loud without adding a “bwa-ha-ha!” on the end! Surely this will be an epic story of villainy (presumably thwarted, but maybe not if he’s the title character) full of epic battles with do-gooders and prominently featuring the battle aftermath we see on the cover. If we like superhero stories – and why the hell else would we be reading Sherlock Fucking Frankenstein and the Motherfucking Legion of Evil if we don’t? – we’re keyed up for it.
Reader: that scene appears nowhere in the book. There isn’t a plotline that could lead to that scene. It presumably depicts some old battle of Sherlock against whatever the hell the WWII superhero team is called in this universe, in which some other superhero then came in from off the cover to save the day, hurrah! It’s purely a bait-and-switch, which sadly is also in the top five label ingredients of superhero comics. 
No, Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil (bwa-ha-ha!) is actually a story that would more honestly be titled Black Hammer II: Lucy’s Quest or something along those lines. It is a sidebar to the main Black Hammer storyline – this phrasing implies there is a main Black Hammer storyline, and I’ve seen very little evidence of that in the first two volumes, but I’m willing to be generous – in which Sherlock is the McGuffin, not the main character. He’s the guy the narrative circles, and eventually shows up onstage at the end for an extended talking-heads sequence, but engages in exactly zero world-conquering plots and at no time uses an insectoid mechanized thing to defeat Golden Gail and whoever the hell the rest of the people on the cover are.
In the main Black Hammer story, a small band of heroes were transported to a farm on the outskirts of a rural town – which itself is in a pocket universe or something, so they can’t get out – a decade ago, after defeating not-Darkseid in the not-Crisis. The hero actually named Black Hammer was physically disassembled attempting to cross that pocket-universe border and get back to Spiral City, main venue for all the punching. Everyone in Spiral City believes all of the heroes were killed in “the event,” but the rest of the main cast is sure only Black Hammer is dead. (And we the readers realize he’s only as dead as any superhero character ever is: until his triumphant return.)
Black Hammer had a young daughter when he “died,” Lucy Weber. In the Black Hammer comics, we saw her, now a reporter in her early ’20s, do the spunky-reporter thing, find a way into the pocket universe, and take up her father’s hammer to become what has not yet been inevitably named Black Hammer II . None of that is surprising or new.
This Sherlock Frankenstein series tells more of Lucy’s story: some of the things she did to learn about her father’s life before the final success we’ve already seen. Yes: it’s yet another fucking flashback. At this point, the entire Black Hammer saga is a loose tapestry of flashbacks held together by the thinnest possible “present-day” (probably actually mid-90s) story.
I’m half-expecting the gang will never leave the pocket universe, that every Black Hammer story will flash back more and more to tell smaller and smaller stories about things we really don’t care about. How Abraham Slam found boots that are comfortable and long-lasting! Barbalien’s first epic love story on earth in the 1950s! Talky-Walky’s brief spin-off, The League of Super-Robots! Mildly Unsettling Tales, hosted by Madame Dragonfly! All of them with titles that imply much more action and punching than we actually get.
Look: Jeff Lemire is an excellent writer. His people talk like human beings and have understandable motivations, which is rare in comics about punching. But this whole Black Hammer thing is a two-finger exercise that he seems to be doing in his sleep. There is nothing surprising or new or exciting about any of it; it doesn’t even have the usual energy and forward momentum that’s one of the major draws of the superhero comic.
It all also looks very nice: for this story, David Rubin provides full art and colors, and his dynamic layouts mostly hide the fact that this is a superhero story entirely about people talking to each other.
But I just don’t get it. I gather the appeal here is the “superhero universe” thing, to see Lemire spin out more variations on (mostly) DC Comics history, but there’s a gigantic actual DC Comics universe out there, with probably thousands of issues of comics (admittedly, written and drawn much more for socially maladjusted pre-teens of the 1970s, but with stories that actually go places and include vastly more of the punching that superhero fans crave) that people could be reading instead.
And naming this Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil instead of Black Hammer, Vol. 3 leaves a bad taste in my mouth. This is not a standalone, it’s not about Sherlock, and he’s nothing like what “Sherlock Frankenstein” would imply to begin with. Frankly, it all feels like Lemire is trying to build an entire superhero universe out of the avoidance of finishing a single story.
But maybe it’s just that I don’t get how superhero universes work these days. Maybe this is all the point. It’s confusing, it doesn’t go anywhere, the character names are deliberately misleading, you have to follow the thinnest thread of story through a dozen books with confusing and changing titles, and you never get the big scene on the cover. Maybe Lemire is either just really good at doing what usually takes a whole Big Two bureaucracy or the whole thing is a deeply meta piss-take.
I doubt it. But maybe.
 What are the other two ingredients in the top five, you ask? Let’s say “silly costumes” and “problematic social attitudes,” today. I reserve the right to pick five entirely different ones tomorrow. Well, except for punching. Punching is like sugar in kid’s cereal: people who know better will always point out how unhealthy it is, but it’s the whole point of the thing.
 I think she will actually be the third, but I’m calling her Black Hammer II in all my Black Hammer posts because otherwise it’s just too damn silly and confusing. (Although “too damn silly and confusing” is roughly my take on nearly all superhero comics nearly all of the time.)