THIS REVIEW OF ‘BLACK HAMMER: AGE OF DOOM’ #12 CONTAINS SPOILERS.
by Clyde Hall. Black Hammer: Age of Doom #12 carries a patina of finality across every panel. It’s the end of The Beginning, the fount from which all the marvelous Black Hammer titles sprang. First thing following the end credit crawl, top of the letter page, is assurance that there are “plenty more Black Hammer-world titles in the works”. It softens the solemnity of the moment. Bringing the curtain down on a story this excellent hurts.
No exception here, except that it hurts in the best kind of way. In other words, it’s not the painful finale we have witnessed elsewhere. Times like 1986 with what was to be the end for the original Justice Society. Iconic and beloved Golden Age characters left to fight and die endlessly as a way of halting Ragnarok so that the rest of the world could live. Readers left feeling just as abandoned to make way for the post-Crisis world. It seemed so pointless.
This finale isn’t that.
Jeff Lemire’s entire run has been an analog of many established comics characters and situations. From the start, Black Hammer tracked as an alternative version of a story where noble heroes left to a shoddy fate. We’ve grown invested in the mystery of how superheroes who defeated Anti-God and saved the world found themselves trapped in a banal existence defined by a small community entirely too Pleasantville. Black Hammer, Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, Madame Dragonfly, Talky Walky, Colonel Weird, and Barbalien haven’t been around as long as Jay Garrick or Alan Scott, but Lemire quickly instilled a similar affection for them.
He’s kept us searching for answers along with Lucy Weber, daughter of the original Black Hammer, piecing together the mystery of the missing heroes. Cheering as their Stepford-style interdimensional detention broke down. Anticipating the day they would once again return to the world they saved.
Last issue it was revealed that their decade-long exile was part of a cosmic catch. The balance of Order and Chaos required that those who denied Ant-God’s evil from infecting the world must also remain apart from that reality. Otherwise, the doorway would open once again for Anti-God’s return, something neither the planet nor its population would survive.
That was the reason for their banishment to the false reality of the Farm, as constructed covertly by Madame Dragonfly. So that they could exist happily ever after without endangering the safety they’d secured for humanity. Our heroes uncover the truth of who engineered their imprisonment at last, return to the prime material plane of Earth, and prepare to face Dragonfly. Lucy Weber, the new Black Hammer, discovered the reasons behind the deception and the pending rise of Anti-God with the return of Abe and his cohorts.
Issue #12 is how it all works out. More, it illustrates wonderfully that being sidelined in purgatory for a decade hasn’t diminished our protagonists’ bravery or dampened their resolve when it comes to making those hard, right choices. It does so in a manner which leaves you saddened but earns the entire series bookshelf space beside the Princess Bride. Lemire’s story has had its share of fighting, sacrifices, chases, escapes, giants, miracles, and monsters. Now it’s time for true love to prevail once and for always, no matter the cost. He doesn’t disappoint during this final act.
The quality artwork of Dean Ormston carries us through confrontations, accusations, and understandings by using character expressions. They chart a course to the huge alien eyeball peering down from the sky into a world ripe for all manner of ultimate villainy. He once again gives us regular people in extraordinary circumstances and reveals the champions hidden within each. Dave Stewart’s colors once more grounds the world of Spiral City into a concrete workaday world which only coincidentally has powerful heroes passing through it. Todd Klein’s lettering emphasizes the heated, long overdue exchanges between primary characters as they decide their ultimate fate.
If starships on their last voyage can feel like a house with all the children gone, they must not be part of the Hammer-World. In their final voyage (for now), this crew makes a home. One filled with children and life and hope. And only a little regret. Parting with them is such sweet, satisfying sorrow.
Dark Horse Comics / $3.99
Written by Jeff Lemire.
Art by Dean Ormston.
Colors by Dave Stewart.
Letters by Todd Klein.
10 out of 10
Check out this 5-page preview of ‘Black Hammer: Age of Doom’ #12, including a variant cover from Paul Pope, courtesy of Dark Horse Comics!