August 28, 2018

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Black Hammer 4: Age of Doom | Single Issue Review


Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dean Ormston
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letters: Todd Klein
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

The only thing more surprising than the last page of each issue of Black Hammer is that Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston are able to continue with every subsequent issue delivering Eisner-worthy installments of the untold superhero story we all didn't even realize we needed. We weren't aware of its needed existence simply because of the oversaturated, but also welcomed, superhero obsession that modern American cinema is in the middle of. From ambitious MCU multi-movie storytelling to an infinite amount of Batman origin stories, it is without much consideration to assume we were missing someone else with a mask and a cape (or a hammer). Truth be told, the Black Hammer saga is the on-going comic in the midst of origin stories not seen since early Stan Lee and Steve Ditko days with the onset of characters such as Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. If you aren't reading Black Hammer by now then, shame on you because this seems to be a generation-defining moment within comics.

Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston have already completed a full arc with the opening chapter of Black Hammer; we were introduced to the ensemble and were shown each of their hidden pasts. We were given an extensive tour through their new lives in the mysterious farm town after having been banished from existence while fighting Anti-God in Spiral City. Their new lives in this strange place bring hostility, resentment, but sometimes sighs of relief among the cast of superhero misfits. The mystery is everywhere. It surrounds everything including where they are, why exactly are they there, how do they leave, are they able to leave, and, even, what happened to Black Hammer? With this first chapter and the couple spinoff stories that followed, we have been presented with many questions but very little answers. The only answers with adequate payoff have been with the aforementioned spinoffs that come with an equal recommendation, Sherlock Frankenstein and Doctor Star. Though peculiarly titled, they are given ample significance in the beginning stages of the mega-universe (coined Hammerverse) that Lemire is creating for Dark Horse.
Age of Doom is the second chapter of the Black Hammer series. After last week we have only been exposed to four issues of what is only to be assumed another 13 issue arc. Issues one, two and three were uncharacteristically bizarre as a modest amount of the storytelling was spent outside of the confines of the mysterious farm town. We spent several pages in hell with Satan and a self-described Emo-god along with a short stint in Dreamland navigated by the new Black Hammer, Lucy Weber. If nothing else, we have to assume that the second chapter of Black Hammer is no ordinary companion compared to its predecessor with still no answers to the many questions from it's past. That is... until issue four.

I'm not knit as the type of human to write of the specifics of plot points, so I find it somewhat troublesome for me to expand on the fact that.. someone's Hollywood-come-back-to-life moment was a simple and subtle nod to an unnecessary resurrection of Tim-21 (refer to the climactic conclusion of Descender). The final page of this issue takes the largest of all the mystery's within this series and turns it upside down. I wasn't sure it was possible to add more mystery to a question when that very question was answered, but all along the answer was right there in front of our thumbs when the biggest reveal in the Hammerverse up to this point was shown.

The writing style, as expected, is very Lemire and very character driven. The art has been consistently strong and adequately purposed, but the climax to this issue was something to describe as nothing other than unexpected.

M. Night Shyamalan would be proud.

(Is this when we start reading breaking news of M. Night's purchasing of the movie rights to Black Hammer?)

Not much more to say here other than there is so much more story to tell. We are on the up of a steep anticipation for the roller coaster I'm not sure I want to be on; the one that dips and dives and encircles itself in the quantum to twist back on itself as it says hi to Jesus and breaks bread with a cow. That is how weird I expect this story to get.

Jeff Lemire, I'm at the door waiting. Take my money now.