Jeff Lemire introduces us to the violent vigilante of Spiral City, in Skulldigger & Skeleton Boy #1 from Dark Horse Comics.
Black Hammer takes golden age and silver age heroes and gives them a darker and more tragic twist. We’ve seen counterparts for Thor, Shazam, Dr. Strange, Captain America, and with Skulldigger & Skeleton Boy we are treated to the Batman & Robin of Spiral City.
What I love so much about Black Hammer is how so much goes wrong. The origin stories from this universe are familiar except they portray a more human aspect to crime fighting. Let’s be honest here; not everything goes according to plan. Jeff Lemire explores what would happen if the heroes didn’t make all the right choices, if their powers brought them a terrible curse, or if they couldn’t handle the responsibilities asked of them.
I figured Black Hammer didn’t have a Batman analog because it would be pretty difficult to come up with something more dark and depressing than Batman’s origin, but I have underestimated Lemire once again. Skulldigger & Skeleton Boy is an age old story with a brand new twist.
The Creative Team
Along with Lemire we have Tonci Zonjic for the artwork, Dave Stewart for the colors, and Steve Wands using his magic on the letters.
Zonjic brings a different style to the world of Black Hammer, but it fits seamlessly into the universe. None of the stories rely on realism in the artwork, and Skulldigger & Skeleton Boy looks like the original Black Hammer back at the farm. I can’t wait to see how Skulldigger connects to Golden Gail and the others.
Dave Stewart is the busiest man in comics. Transitioning from bold, bright, and beautiful like Silver Surfer: Black to the dark, dreary, a destitute world of Black Hammer, he doesn’t skip a beat. What can I say about his work that hasn’t been said before? Most likely nothing. If you want amazing colors from a man that can do it all, you come to Stewart.
Steve Wands is a frequent collaborator with Lemire. He knows exactly what the story needs and how to blend into the artwork perfectly. Legibility is key. I get most of my reading done after long days staring at words on a computer screen. The last thing I want, when reading a book for enjoyment, is to have to strain or squint at the page. This is never an issue with Wands and his cinematic effects always feel like a part of the story.
Black Hammer is known to show the most depressing parts of being a superhero, and explores all the darkness that other superhero books avoid at all costs. I’m excited to find out about Grim Jim and the crimes he has committed. As the analog for the Joker, there promises to be a pretty lengthy and heinous list of atrocities.
When you take the law into your own hands and become judge, jury, and executioner, the line of good and evil starts to blur. It is not obvious who is the hero of this story, and after the reveal at the end of this first issue, we learn we’re in for a Jason Todd-esque relationship between Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy.
Fans of Batman and the Punisher will surely find something to like about Skulldigger. This universe is absolutely sad and wonderfully thrilling all at the same time. Skulldigger & Skeleton Boy looks like it is on track to fall in line with the other amazing titles that Lemire has treated us with. If you haven’t read Black Hammer and all of the tie-ins, what are you waiting for?It is a truly phenomenal story and you won’t regret a single panel of it.
Are you looking forward to the newest entry from the Black Hammerverse? Who is your favorite character? Let us know in the comments below.