So, let’s get this out of the way at the top: Colonel Weird: Cosmagog #3 is a beautiful comic. It looks lovely. There are pages in there that should be in museums, hung up next to any of a number of great masters. Tyler Crook appears to have done the book in watercolors, and it evokes exactly the same theme that the writing tries to evoke. It is dreamlike, creating in just 22 pages hellish apocalypses, Kirby-esque space, sad reminiscences between lost lovers, and hippie communes. Crook’s art, really, is what is powering the strength of the book: Jeff Lemire, the writer, is just along for the ride.
And it’s good that Crook’s art is as good as it is. Lemire’s Black Hammer work has been really good overall, I’ll be the first to admit. He’s ducked in and out of different genres, writing great war stories, space stories, romance stories, detective stories, and more. But they’ve been so great because the fantastical elements of superhero remain rooted in very real, recognizable emotions. You know what it’s like to fall in love with someone who isn’t in love with you. To feel happy and be worried that someone you care about wants to take it away. To miss someone, and be willing to do anything to get one more day, one more word, with someone you love. These are real, recognizable emotions, and it’s that solid core that makes the fantastical elements of the other Black Hammer stories work.
But it’s in issue #3 of Colonel Weird: Cosmagog that Lemire loses that strong foundation. This issue of Cosmagog isn’t about emotions anymore – it’s about other Black Hammer books. It’s a book entirely about continuity nods. It tells stories that work to make other stories better, rather than being interesting in its own right.
And the pieces are there. There are pages of Cosmagog that are interesting, that are saying the first half of something touching, something powerful . . . but the book cuts away before it can be said. I want to know more about Weird’s time running a cult, about his life with Eve, about his time in the Para-Zone. But we never learn that.
Maybe that’s on purpose. Maybe the book is trying to evoke in us the same confusion that Randall Weird suffers from. Maybe we’re supposed to be yearning for more, to see the stories that the book hints at but never shows, just as Weird never manages to reach an emotional catharsis. But if that’s the point, do you really want to read a book that is trying to leave you unfulfilled?
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