ADVANCED REVIEW: “Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy: From the World of Black Hammer,” #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

From the world of Black Hammer, comes Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy: From the World of Black Hammer #1 by writer Jeff Lemire, artist Tonci Zonjic, and letter Steve Wands. Focusing on the origins of the relationship between Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy, Lemire drags you into a world of crime, grim, and darkness. Published by Dark Horse Comics, this first issue is a masterful look into the Black Hammer Universe.

Lemire introduces Skeleton Boy through the murder of both his parents after a nice dinner. The assailant continues to threaten the boy. Skulldigger runs into the scene, apologizing to Skeleton Boy that he was not there sooner, after hearing the gunshots. Immediately, Lemire establishes that Skulldigger is not a hero, but rather, a complex vigilante. Zonjic’s design for him features a skull mask, body vest, and a flail. He proceeds to beat the gunman dead with his weapon. Further apologizing to Skeleton Boy, he repeats that he wished he was there earlier and that that police will be there to take care of him.

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The issue flashes to the boy sitting in the police station. Lemire brilliantly writes out organic sounding dialogue that establishes the state of Spiral City’s crime sector. Wands easy to follow speech bubbles alongside Zonjic’s simplistic art and white color backdrop enhances the script. The conversation between Detective Reyes and Captain of SCPD slips enough information to make those unfamiliar with the Black Hammer universe understand the atmosphere and tone of Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy: From the World of Black Hammer #1.

The story progresses by exploring and adding depth to Skulldigger’s motives as a vigilante. However, as opposed to Lemire writing a character monologue, he allows Zonjic to take the reigns. Zonjic utilizes static art to tell Skulldigger’s story visually. It causes the readers to sympathize and understand him more emotionally. Skulldigger is a byproduct of Spiral City’s wave of crime. Lemire and Zonjic’s teamwork is cohesive, and this character shows that they know where their storytelling strengths lie.

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Not much further, the introduction of Grimjim, a villain from Spiral Asylum, occurs. He wants to terrorize Spiral City, speeches to himself and narrates his actions. Lemire’s ability to give him such a distinct voice paired with Wands plum-colored text boxes renders Grimjim as a kooky antithesis to the stoic Skulldigger. Purple with pink eyes and a grin on his face, Grimjim feels like a villain out of a movie. Elevating this book into feeling more cinematic than it already does, Zonjic’s panel work is excellent.

Zonjic switches between using standard square panels and long vertical panels and never focuses on just one character per page. Instead, he provides insight into how their lives run parallel to one another. Some of the best pages in this book occur at the end with these character pages. The background is colored black. Wands white lettering staggers down with each vertical panel focusing on a specific character with their own color stories.

Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy: From the World of Black Hammer #1 is a stellar first issue. Lemire, yet again, delivers a book that is enthralling and visual with the aid of his creative team of Wands and Zonjic. Complex characters and an engaging crime atmosphere add to the already wonderful world of Black Hammer and its accessible to new readers.

Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy: From the World of Black Hammer #1 available wherever comics are sold and on December 18, 2019.

Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy: From the World of Black Hammer #1
5

TL;DR

Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy: From the World of Black Hammer #1 is a stellar first issue. Lemire, yet again, delivers a book that is enthralling and visual with the aid of his creative team of Wands and Zonjic. Complex characters and an engaging crime atmosphere add to the already wonderful world of Black Hammer and its accessible to new readers.