Black Hammer: Age of Doom #6 Stretches The Boundaries Of The Medium

by James Ferguson

The heroes of Black Hammer farm were exiled into the Para-Zone during the battle with the Anti-God. They fear that if they try to return to their universe, that monster will come back too and that was a hard enough fight the first time. It turns out Colonel Weird guided their ship out of the Para-Zone. What awaits them through this portal is a complete unknown.

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #6 starts off with the fate of the entire universe hanging in the balance, then quickly takes a turn to the bizarre. It’s fitting that Colonel Weird takes center stage for this chapter as he encounters a strange and constantly changing reality that stretches the limits of the comic book medium itself.

Weird’s journey gets very meta as he meets characters that have been written out of their stories. Remember that issue of Animal Man where he meets Grant Morrison? This comic plays in the same ballpark. I wonder if Weird will meet writer Jeff Lemire soon.

We’ve seen how crazed Weird can be, so maybe this is what drove him insane. Imagine finding out you’re a character in a story and then have to fight your way to stay there before you’re erased from your timeline and forgotten.

Rich Tommaso’s artwork complements the weird nature of the story well. It’s a departure from what we’ve seen before in the series from artist Dean Ormston, like we all went through the portal out of the Para-Zone and everything is completely different. The landscape moves from cartoonish, to absurd, to utterly terrifying. This extends to the new characters Weird encounters too, like Inspector Insector, a bug detective.

Reality shifts and changes as Weird moves from scene to scene. There’s an amazing sequence shown in a double-page spread consisting of tall vertical panels. Weird and the Inspector are walking through this world as the background is changing behind them with every step. It shows how everything is constantly in flux and literally anything can happen.

The colors throughout this issue are as vibrant as they are unnatural. You get the immediate sense that we’re dealing with some otherworldly stuff based on the rich color palette at work. I particularly like the use of white space in the transition from the spaceship to this world as Weird basically falls through empty space to crash land in this alien land.

If Black Hammer is an homage and re-imagining of superhero comics, this issue is examining the trippy era of the ’60s, when Batman wore a costume for every color of the rainbow and Jimmy Olsen married a gorilla. (Look them up. Those really happened.) Black Hammer: Age of Doom #6 is an experiment in storytelling and it’s producing some fantastic results.

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #6 from Dark Horse Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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