Not with a bang but instead with a rocket blast, Colonel Weird: Cosmagog comes to an end. Despite its ending, it’s the quiet and unassuming story of a space ranger with the world on his shoulders. But just like in past issues, writer Jeff Lemire and artist, colorist and letterer Tyler Crook, aren’t here for the alien battles or holes in the space-time continuum. No, Dark Horse’s Colonel Weird: Cosmagog #4 continues to be about Weird’s heavy heart and his confused brain.
Since issue one, Weird has been trying to remember something. We’ve followed him, through time and space, to see that he’s a man who is cursed. He’s reliving and repeating each moment of his life. We see him in his most vulnerable times. We see him at home, crying about being bullied as a kid, or offering his hand to his wife Eve to show her the Parazone, which is destined to rip her to shreds. And, interestingly enough, Lemire doesn’t trod much new ground in this final script. Instead, we inch closer to the conclusion of each of these scenes. We not only see Weird as a little kid, crying to his mother, but we finally see how she consoles him. It’s the twists and turns of real life that have us on the edge of our seats. And when Weird says “I am tired of always trying to go the right way,” he speaks for all of us. Lemire captures the exhaustion of trying to live life well. It’s a universal feeling. Lemire underscores it with every hard decision a guilt-ridden Weird has to make, over and over again.
Again, Crook traces a through line in the script. He shows us the scared face of a little boy, and how it’s not that different from a face that is decades older. Weird still feels scared. He’s been feeling scared his whole life. But as we close in on the conclusion of one scene, Crook shows us who Weird is different from. As Abraham Slam, Barbalien, Black Hammer and Golden Gail fight the Anti-God, they’re not scared. This world-eating adversary is the kind of big baddie we’ve seen in comics. These heroes are familiar with such threats. And so, they’re angry, not frightened. But Weird knows the only way to stop this menace. When Madame Dragonfly approaches him, Crook underlines her humanity too. She looks petrified. And finally, as they join hands, Crook shows how this moment felt to Weird. The page erupts, panels scatter. Weird’s world falls apart. It’s a beautiful representation of this act that has followed him throughout time and how doing it over and over again is tearing him to pieces.
Crook washes nearly every scene Weird’s in, in one overpowering color. Whether he’s in the green of the Parazone or fighting the angry red Anti-God, Crook obscures Weird’s true colors with the light of a threat from without. In some ways, this reads like the pull of time. We don’t see what makes Weird who he is. We don’t see what he would choose. Instead, we see what he’s already chosen. Because Time is his master and just as his colors make way for the light of the page, Weird’s will bends to the will of Time. But, in one brief moment, Crook uses another color. A color that originates from Weird’s actions, the bright spark of him trying to fix something. And in that moment, Crook obscures some of Weird’s face. The white light makes it so we can only see his eyes and his knitted brow. But, in doing this, Crook makes us wonder if this is a moment where Weird lets himself hope. Without the frown and the gaunt cheeks on display, his eyes could just as easily be carefully hopeful, as they could be worried and scared.
Crook, in his lettering, uses small, subtle moments to show a connection between Weird through the years. Child Weird looks up at his mother. “I– I’d forgotten about this…” In the next panel, present day Weird reacts. “Oh!” The lettering is small, like a realization that comes from deep within. “I’d– I’d forgotten…” he says, echoing his younger self, even in the syntax. And as Weird remembers what he’s forgotten, with the “KZZZZT” noise of a burst of hope, he begins to seem more sure of himself. His lines are no longer divided up into small whimpers, word balloons containing three to four words at a time. He speaks as confidently as Weird can, ellipses and all. Finally, Crook marks the end of this book with the “CHOOOM” of a rocket engine. He connects us back to our original expectations. The space battles and rocket launches of a sci-fi adventurer. Perhaps Crook is suggesting that Weird, unburdened, has some loud, swashbuckling adventures to look forward to.
Dark Horse’s Colonel Weird: Cosmagog is a delight. It’s good to know that some things are just damn near perfect. Pick up Colonel Weird: Cosmagog #4 or the trade paperback, out from Dark Horse Comics January 27th, at a comic shop near you!