After spending the last story arc hopping through time and multiple universes and being introduced to some pretty esoteric and abstract world building, we jump back to the present, following Father Wilfred and Dr. Xu as they meet for the first time.
Between this issue and the last, the world of Joe Golem has somersaulted and ended upside down for good. There’s no going back. These issues were like the bullet to the head of Joe. In a way, it’s heroic - the re-birth of something greater to fight evil - but, at the same time, it’s deeply sad and almost tragic. I think anyone who has been reading the series knew this was eventually going to happen, but, as it was finally happening, my emotions were greatly conflicted.
I have to admit that every time I see Cullen Bunn’s name on a series, I get excited. Here, he’s writing with Kyle Strahm who, up until this point, has been more of an artist working on series like Hack/Slash and Spread. Bunn is one of the best horror writers in comics right now, writing for almost every major publisher and going where the stories or collaborations take him. He’s such a freaking nerd about world building and lore that every one of his stories feels like they extend far beyond the reaches of the characters. He’s prolific and consistently wonderful.
Jeff Lemire has been spinning the meta storylines of Black Hammer for a couple of years now. They spin this way and that, presenting alternate histories (Black Hammer ’45), science fiction tales (Doctor Star and The Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows and The Quantum Age), horror (Cthu-Louise), and tales of villains (Sherlock Frankenstein). All of these stories revolve around the central story of a group of Golden Age superheroes who mysteriously transported to a barn where they are forced to hide their super-powered selves to fit in. Along came a new Black Hammer, Black Hammer’s daughter, and those heroes were taken on a spin around a sort of storytelling multi-verse. (That paragraph was for all of the DC readers that may have popped over for the Justice League element. For everyone else, if you don’t know who the Justice League is, then what are you doing?)
I first came across Jason Aaron’s name from his run on Thor, and, oh my, what a run it has been. He really knows how to spin a yarn, so when I saw his name on a science fiction series, a small portion of me shrieked for joy. Here, he’s writing with Dennis Hallum who has been working with Marvel for just shy of ten years. I don’t know his work as well, but so far so good.
We’re back in outer space. I’ve been watching every month (even every week) for a new issue of The Weatherman. It is one of the juiciest series being published. It might be because I’m an enormous fan of this kind of science fiction - the kind that’s completely gonzo and embraces it. The kind that Philip K. Dick wrote, or the kind Hunter S. Thompson might write if he wrote science fiction.
I don’t want to condone doing drugs for people who live in places in which it is still illegal. I’m not going to say with absolute certainty that I was under the influence of cannabis when I read this issue. What I will say, though, is that if you were going to choose to read a comic book while high . . . this is the one to do so.
Kengo Hanazawa's brilliant I Am a Hero began as a simple, yet cleverly designed, zombie story. Here, zombies are called ZQNs, and that strong point of view coupled with incredibly beautiful artwork could have been enough, but he has turned this epic tale of survival into a sprawling parable of individuality versus singularity.
I haven’t fist pumped since the '90s. I fist pumped yesterday when I read Black Badge #11 which is the penultimate issue of this story arc (and maybe the series as a whole).
With issue 14, the overarching story of Gideon Falls finally starts to take shape. We now have a better understanding of who the forces of good and evil are in this world, with the terrifying laughing man (Norton Sinclair) on one side, and now Bishop Jeremiah Burke on the other. The importance of characters come more into focus, taking on deeper, richer archetypes as the past catches up to the present. None of this disappoints. Lemire is using the very foundations of reality as his sandbox: the past and present, multiverses, good and evil, and our perceptions of hell with (thus far) no heaven in sight.