SKULLDIGGER & SKELETON BOY #1
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Tonci Zonjic
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Steve Wands
Publisher: Dark Horse
New Black Hammer books are always good news and this might just be the best spin off yet. If you're not familiar with the world of Black Hammer, I highly suggest you go pick up the first volume of the main series. This whole world is a love letter/homage to the world of superheroes. It's also becoming perhaps my favorite superhero universe. Jeff Lemire along with a slew of amazing artist has created an all inclusive world that isn't hampered by continuity or a gluttony of events. While there have been spin-off mini's, which I highly recommend, this might be some of Lemire's best work. Now don't worry if you haven't read any other Black Hammer books, this was done perfectly for new readers and you don't have to know anything else about the world. But get ready for one of the best books you'll read this year.
The book at first glance might seem like it's an homage to Punisher or Batman, but it's so much more. It turns the Batman origin trope on it's head. This time the sidekick-to-be has his parents gunned down. When Skulldigger comes out of the shadows to take down the gunman, he tells the kid to turn away but he just stares. The brutality in which Skulldigger takes down the perp doesn't even faze the kid.
From the opening pages this is clearly a love letter to Frank Miller, much like Doctor Star (another Black Hammer spin-off), was a love letter to James Robinson's STARMAN. The way each page is composed evoke the same feeling you get when reading BATMAN: YEAR ONE. From the way Lemire approaches the script, to the striking imagery of Tonci Zonjic. It homages the great work of the past while also feeling extremely fresh. The way Zonjic uses the panels to focus on the charters eyes, makes each moment powerful with minimal art. It's no easy feat.
This is clearly intended as an origin story for the young boy and I'm sure as the story goes on we'll learn more about theses two interesting new addition to Spiral City. The ending of the book definitely sets us up for an interesting new take on the dynamic of superhero and sidekick. Lemire is clearly having a lot of fun with this one as he flexes his noir muscles, which we rarely see. It's nice to get this new side of him and I can't wait to see what else he has instore for us. This book is yet another great example of how to do a spin-off and make it feel important to the overall universe yet also highly enjoyable on its own.