Is this the best Black Hammer comic yet? It takes the tropes of Batman and Robin and builds something entirely new and so very fascinating as this mini-series comes to an amazing conclusion.
With the future of a young boy hanging in the balance, Skulldigger and Detective Reyes face off against the menacing Grimjim once more. The villain has already caused so much pain and bloodshed and he’s nowhere near finished.
Skulldigger & Skeleton Boy works on so many levels. While the main story of Grimjim pulling strings to torment Skulldigger is riveting, it’s the story of Skeleton Boy and what path he may take next that elevates this comic to new heights. It’s interesting how writer Jeff Lemire doesn’t actually name this kid until this issue. Up until now, I don’t think he even went by Skeleton Boy. That came from the title. His name becomes very important as it plays a key role as to what his future holds.
You can’t read this comic and not make a comparison to Batman and Robin. Grimjim is a nice approximation for the Joker, although with a much closer connection to our hero than the Clown Prince of Crime has to the Dark Knight. Lemire plays with that well-known idea, but makes something entirely new and so very compelling. I was pulled into this story in a way that I have never been with a Batman comic.
Artist Tonci Zonjic turns in some amazing work in Skulldigger & Skeleton Boy #6, particularly with the color. Every panel has a purposeful use of color that defines its tone. It’s a stripped down style, as if you’re seeing these images through tinted glasses, shifting from a violent red to an eerie purple and finally, to a stoic black and white.
We get so wrapped up in the action that when the final few pages hit with a bit of normalcy, they almost feel out of place. The vigilante life is bright and bombastic, like it’s an entirely different world.
Zonjic’s layouts have a fantastic flow to them, creating a great mix of small, nuanced panels conveying deep emotions and big, powerful images that pack a punch. This is blockbuster level artwork as we build towards the inevitable showdown between these characters. Letterer Steve Wands delivers some awesome sound effects to ratchet up the intensity in these moments. They’re like exclamation points on the artwork.
I’ve enjoyed all of the Black Hammer comics, but Skulldigger & Skeleton Boy is something truly special. It takes familiar tropes of the super hero genre and shows us something entirely new and absolutely riveting. It’s powerful and moving. To put it simply, it’s perfect.