Dark Horse Review: COLONEL WEIRD: COSMAGOG #1
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Tyler Crook
Colours: Tyler Crook
Letters: Tyler Crook
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Colonel Weird: Cosmagog #1: Wacky space adventurer Colonel Randall Weird leaves Black Hammer farm and embarks on a strange journey through space and time for something that he’s long forgotten with his sanity and life at stake!
Jeff Lemire’s Black Hammer has an ensemble cast of fascinating characters. Unfortunately, as often happens with ensemble stories, this means that there isn’t enough room in the story to focus on all the characters. Some move to the forefront, while others stay in the background. This happened somewhat with Colonel Weird.
Black Hammer’s story centred around Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, and Barbalien, while Randall Weird was relegated to a secondary role. He did serve some important functions for the story, but didn’t receive much attention while not doing so. This was a shame, considering how many fascinating hints have been dropped about his past. However, this is finally being redressed with Colonel Weird: Comagog #1, which puts the spotlight firmly on the Colonel.
Many of the characters in Jeff Lemire’s World of Black Hammer are pastiches of one or more classic comic characters. Colonel Weird, as can be inferred by his name, has a lot of similarities to Adam Strange. However, there seems to be some elements of Shade, the Changing Man in Weird’s backstory.
Colonel Weird is connected to a plane of reality called the Para-Zone, which is clearly akin to the Rac Shade’s Area of Madness. As in the Vertigo Comics reimagining of Shade, his connection to this strange dimension has taken a toll on his sanity. To cement the similarity, the depiction of the Para-Zone borrows heavily on Steve Ditko’s artistic style. And Ditko was the creator of Shade the Changing Man and the Area of Madness.
It’s difficult, perhaps impossible, to say where this series fits in the timeline of Black Hammer. The story establishes that the last thing he remembers is his companions escaping their captivity near the end of the second series. However, he later experiences the events leading up to the start of the first series.
This is because Randall Weird is not experiencing time in a linear fashion. He goes back and forth between different events on his timeline. It is understandable how his sanity would crumble dealing with this. To make matters worse, he also seems to be experiencing bizarre delusions that mix elements from different times in his life.
He eventually has an epiphany. “I am lost,” he declares, “I’ve forgotten something very important, haven’t I?”. And he receives a response from various past incarnations of himself. “Yes, Colonel, you have… We all have… and unless we find it… we are going to finally lose ourselves too”.
It appears that Randall Weird is on the cusp of losing what little remains of his sanity. The quest that lies before him is to remember what he has forgotten and rebuild his psyche. As his younger selves tell him, “You need to put us back together. You need to remember everything we’ve forgotten”.
The way to do this is to follow his late mother’s advice and find what he’s lost by retracing his steps. So, he sets off to retrace his life in a linear fashion, starting from the beginning. This is a brilliant way to set up the telling of Colonel Weird’s origin story.
I quite like Tyler Crook’s artwork on this series. His blend of cartoony and realistic styles perfectly suits Randall Weird’s precarious mental state. He walks on the edge of madness, Crook’s art reflects that magnificently. Crook also does a beautiful job in echoing Steve Ditko’s signature style in his depiction of the Para-Zone.
As is typical with Jeff Lemire’s World of Black Hammer titles, I found no fault with Colonel Weird: Cosmagog #1. It is an incredible book and I loved it from cover to cover.
Colonel Weird: Cosmagog #1 exceeded my already high expectations. This series is on track to be yet another masterpiece World of Black Hammer story. I can’t recommend this series highly enough.