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Black Hammer, Volume 4: Age of Doom Part Two: 01/14/20

Black Hammer, Volume 4: Age of Doom Part Two

Black Hammer, Volume 4: Age of Doom Part Two by Jeff Lemire is the conclusion of the series. Seen in its entirety, Black Hammer uses a cinematic narrative structure where the ending is an altered/re-contextualized but recognizable version of the opening.

When examined in terms of the road narrative spectrum, we see the transformation more clearly defined. The first two volumes are from the spectrum's point of view, stable. Both volumes are confined within the tale of scarecrow/minotaur traveling within a rural setting via the cornfield. Those two volumes are from the point of view of superheroes who were defeated and exiled by their last battle.

The last two include a new superhero, the daughter of Black Hammer, who has now taken up the mantel. Her travels are what knock the series out of its initial state.

Chart showing the relative placement of all four volumes..

Like volume three, Black Hammer: Age of Doom, Part One, volume four dips into metafiction as a means of travel. First it's Lucy Weber, who becomes the new Black Hammer, who travels different dimensions to learn the truth. Now it's Weird who makes the trip. I'd love to say that Weird's trip was weird but it's actually derivative and predictable. He essentially recapitulates Duck Amuck (Warner Bros., 1953).

After Weird's trip, we're given a look at what has happened to all the other characters. They are back in Spiral City, but a version where superheroes don't exist. As they have all had their powers stripped, they are collectively marginalized travelers (66).

The journey this time is Spiral City (00). They have returned home but at a huge price. The original Black Hammer is still dead and now Weird is too. He failed to complete the space mission where he received his powers. Further more, the city is under threat again from Anti-God.

The route they take is the labyrinth. Yes, there's the threat of the Anti-God but he's off screen for this entire volume. The neverending storm is the closest he comes to manifesting. Without a manifest threat, the maze becomes a transformative path, namely a labyrinth (99). It's shape is reiterated in the city's very name: Spiral City.

Thus Black Hammer goes from two volumes of scarecrows and minotaurs traveling to and through a rural landscape via the cornfield (9933FF) to a family of travelers going through utopia via the cornfield (33FFFF), to one last journey of marginalized travelers going to and through the city via the labyrinth.

Three stars

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