The pieces come together as the past and the present collide. Where does that leave this young orphan boy caught up in the life of a vigilante?
The truth of Skulldigger’s past is finally revealed. That has some dire consequences for his present as the villain Grimjim prepares for a personal and heinous attack. Meanwhile, Skeleton Boy, the kid that Skulldigger has taken under his wing, suits up and gets deeper into the vigilante life.
As mentioned in previous reviews, it’s hard to talk about Skulldigger & Skeleton Boy without making a comparison to Batman & Robin. There are some obvious parallels, however writer Jeff Lemire provides more than enough to create an entirely separate and enjoyable read. If there were no Dynamic Duo, this would still be a phenomenal comic. (Of course, if there were no Batman & Robin, one has to wonder if a book like this would exist in the first place).
Anyway, Lemire has added so much depth to each character here. It’s a fascinating look at how different people process trauma. Every one of them has been through some horrifying stuff in their lives. In the case of Skulldigger – and now Skeleton Boy – that’s turned to vigilantism, solving problems by punching people right in the face. Looking at the connections and parallels between them is another standout part of this series.
Artist Tonci Zonjic creates a noir look and feel for Skulldigger & Skeleton Boy that blends very well with the characters and this world. As a reminder, this is part of the Black Hammer universe where colorful characters like Barbalien and Abraham Slam also roam. This stands as its own unique tone that is totally its own. It’s amazing to see how many layers this universe has.
This entire issue takes place at night – or at least it feels that way – with shadows looming from every corner. I love how Skulldigger and his sidekick look in the low lights of a pool hall as they bust some heads open looking for answers. It adds so much intensity to the scene.
There are a handful of panels towards the end of the issue, when Grimjim rears his ugly head that say so much without a piece of dialogue. These are shown only in black-and-white and they hit like a punch to the gut. When Grimjim does speak, letterer Steve Wands uses purple word balloons that match up to the character’s skin. The character speaks in a confident, yet eerie manner that sends a shiver up my spine.
There’s a nice balance between these more action-packed sequences and the quieter, personal moments. They all stand out with some power to them. There’s no fat in these pages. Every single image has a purpose in moving the story along and further developing these characters.
This issue ends in a startling cliffhanger that completely changes the status quo of the series. One of the things I love about the Black Hammer comics is how unpredictable they are. They continue to tread new ground, which is saying something as they’re playing in the super hero genre which has been around for 80 years. Skulldigger & Skeleton Boy is a perfect example of something new and interesting in super hero comics, building on and paying homage to, the storied legacy of the genre.
Skulldigger & Skeleton Boy #4 from Dark Horse Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.