Black Hammer: Age Of Doom #9 Is A By-The-Book Alternate Reality Tale

by James Ferguson

Trapped in a new universe without the memories, the heroes of Black Hammer Farm are scattered and living dull lives. That changes when Lucy receives a mysterious call. Against her better judgment, she goes to meet this stranger, only to find the robot Talky-Walky, who opens her eyes to the truth. Meanwhile, Barbalien experiences a dose of heartbreak on Mars and Abraham Slam gets mugged.

I’ve loved every twist and turn that Black Hammer has taken across its various series to date. I am intrigued by what writer Jeff Lemire has in store for this alternate reality tale, however it seems to be following the same formula as most of these stories. We’ve seen this play out the same way over and over again in the likes of House of M, Flashpoint, and most recently Infinity Wars. Talky Walky has to force Lucy to “wake up” and understand what’s really going on. This is a foregone conclusion so Black Hammer: Age of Doom #9 feels like we’re going through the motions.

This isn’t to say the comic is bad. It’s just that we know where the main thrust of the story is going. There are still tons of solid character defining moments, particularly with Barbalien and Abraham Slam. It’s interesting that those are the two characters that are the farthest from the truth, firmly stuck in this alternate reality.

Barbalien’s story is especially heartbreaking as he comes so close to happiness only to have it ripped away. Artist Dean Ormston puts so much emotion in these scenes with some gut-wrenching visuals. There’s a panel with a close-up on his face that says it all. It’s the moment where everything sinks in and his life is forever changed. Just looking back on it now nearly brings a tear to my eye.

This contrasts well with the follow-up scene with Barbalien where his sadness is turned into rage. This is unleashed with brutal efficiency. He attacks with weapons and words, letting these monsters know exactly why this is happening to them. Letterer Todd Klein uses a unique font for Barbalien’s speech, adding to the alien nature of this world and these characters.

Bringing it back to Lucy and Talky Walky, there’s a definite noir vibe with these sequences. Colorist Dave Stewart invokes the feeling of classic private detective stories with the rain pouring down on this concrete jungle. It’s full of greys and blacks. When she encounters Talky Walky, there’s a glimmer of something more with the robot’s green helmet.

While I’m not really digging this current storyline, I’m still hooked on Black Hammer. Since we’ve seen this series turn super hero tropes on their heads, I’m curious to see if there are some twists coming down the line or if we’re going to get a by-the-book alternate reality tale. The comic hasn’t let me down yet so I’m sticking with it.

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #9 from Dark Horse Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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