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What is Real? (Black Hammer: Age of Doom #12 Review)


Writer: Jeff Lemire

Artist: Dean Ormston

Colorist: Dave Stewart

Letterer: Todd Klein

Publisher: Dark Horse

Rating: 10/10

Age of Doom #12 is an emotional end of an era for the world of Black Hammer. After defeating their enemy Anti-God, our band of misfits suddenly wake up in a farm, unable to free themselves from the space and life they came across. Abraham Slam has finally found the love of his life there, yet Golden Gail has been stuck in a child’s body, deprived of seeing her beloved back home, let alone drink or curse without discipline. While Barbalien hasn’t been the luckiest at being open with his sexuality, he finds a love interest, too, as our other characters Talky-Walky and Colonel Weird are just, well, weird. We’ve come to know these characters more deeply in the series, yet they’ve only started to adjust to this “reality” (they didn’t know was truly a dream) life their friend, Madame Dragonfly, has manifested to keep Anti-God away. 

With current Black Hammer Lucy Weber in search of her father, the original Black Hammer, she stumbles across her father’s team at the farm, and the team realizes this was all a dream. Age of Doom #12 is that WHY conversation with Madame Dragonfly, our characters grasping their own essence of love and belonging with their romantic partners was a fraud, their trust within this family broken, too. It was bad enough they’ve all had to keep their secrets from this small town they can’t leave, exploring their differences within each other, their team dynamics failing into existence while they exhaust the various ways to get back to their old life. 

The world of Black Hammer has been a ceaseless cult of a story, surfacing many perspectives of our human conditions’ voids and loneliness. It will make you laugh, feel fatalistic, or even cry. The themes of shame and guilt are highly explored in this series, allowing us to question ourselves how much of reality or fantasy we are willing to accept in order to carry on. Faced with guilt, even Dragonfly has sacrificed her own love and belonging as she isolates herself from the group, trying to protect them from seeing the darkest sides of what’s in front of them. Yet did she have to separate herself, and did she have merit? Lemire writes Black Hammer with true empathy, pointing to us that as humans, our feelings of guilt has a connection with creating our own realities and fantasies. Whether or not we are aware of them is a decision we have to make ourselves.

In this issue, we learn what the team has decided to do! Should they go back to pretending at the farm or take their slim chances in fighting for their reality? How much reality can we even alter? The decision is both hopeful yet gloomy because I believe nothing ever grounded in life ever comes with true joy or effortlessness. Last, but not the very least, we have Dean Ormston’s truly magnificent and original piece of work, and since day one this world has been a joy to immerse in. Have you seen this man’s skyscrapers!? Top that with Dave Stewart’s colors, they are really like no other. Even the way he colored this week’s Spiderman’s #1 captured the true gloom of New York city in a fall afternoon and Black Hammer grasps accordingly! Klein’s letters are exciting, youthful, and oh, so very classy! We won’t have another six-issue series until December but this is the perfect time to catch up to this world.


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