666: Silent Hammer
Title text: 'I bet he'll keep quiet for a couple weeks and then-- wait, did you nail a piece of scrap wood to my antique table a moment ago?'
Black Hat has created a set of tools that work in complete silence so that he can go to the house of the chairman of the American Skeptics Society late at night, do some rearranging of walls and moving of windows, just to screw with him in typical Black Hat fashion. A skeptic is someone who questions knowledge, facts and beliefs, especially of supernatural phenomena like the existence of poltergeists which Black Hat is trying to imitate with his rearranging and scratching noises.
The American Skeptics Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting skeptical and critical thinking in education and public discourse. The executive editor, Michael Shermer, is a leading proponent of skepticism, and has written many books and articles debunking pseudoscience, fringe science, quack medicine, alien abductions, conspiracy theories and supernatural phenomena. The Skeptic Society website  and Skeptic magazine feature a lot of material debunking anecdotal accounts of these phenomena, explaining how events like "hauntings" could have occurred without supernatural intervention.
One of the premises of modern skepticism is that the supernatural is not rejected out of hand; if a skeptic ever encountered an event with no possible explanation other than a supernatural one, he would be forced to acknowledge the existence of that type of supernatural force or entity. Skeptics maintain that no such event has ever occurred. Black Hat's prank is designed to give Mr. Shermer a seemingly supernatural experience that he would not be able to debunk, so he would have to accept a supernatural explanation, to the detriment of his life's work and that of the society he runs.
In the title text Cueball realizes that Black Hat has (probably intentionally) ruined his antique table by demonstrating his silent hammer.
- [Black Hat is hammering something on a table.]
- Cueball: What—
- Black Hat: Silent hammer. I've made a set of silent tools.
- Cueball: Why?
- Hammer: woosh woosh woosh
- Black Hat: Stealth carpentry. Breaking into a house at night and moving windows, adjusting walls, etc.
- [He takes his silent hammer over to a tool bench with other things on it. Two boxes underneath are labeled "Drills" and "Non-Drills."]
- Black Hat, narrating: After a week or so of questioning his own sanity, the owner will stay up to watch the house at night. I'll make scratching noises in the walls, pipe in knockout gas, move him up to his bed, and never bother him again.
- [The events he's describing are shown in two mini-panels below.]
- Cueball, off-panel: Nice prank, I guess, but what's the point?
- Black Hat: Check out the owner's card, on the table.
- Cueball, off-panel: Chair of the American Skeptics Society? Oh, god.
- Black Hat: Yeah, this doesn't end well for him.
The comic number is 666, which is the "mark of the beast" according to the book of Revelation in the Christian Bible.add a comment! ⋅ refresh comments!