Story: Jeff Lemire
Art: Tonci Zonjic
Letterer: Steve Wands
What They Say:
After murderous lunatic Grimjim crashes the rally of mayoral hopeful Tex Reed in a sufficiently violent manner, the past comes to light, revealing Grimjim’s long-standing vendetta against Tex and Skulldigger’s very personal reasons for wanting Grimjim dead.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
With the further expansion of the Black Hammer universe, I’m enjoying seeing Jeff Lemire go off in more directions and turn over some other rocks to see what’s out there. A lot of what’s come out already has been related directly to the core book or Black Hammer himself but this one makes just one reference to him during his early days, which is a nice touch. It’s also a book that I’m thoroughly enjoying the different style with as Tonci Zonjic has some really great characters to work with here in their designs as they stand out with their physicality or just the expressive nature of someone like Grimjim. And Skeleton Boy finally gets to debut in full.
This book does a bit of a split in how it tells its story past and present coming together well. The past side goes back to 1976 and it has a really great yellowed comic page feeling to it. It’s here that we see the Crimson Fist going after Grimjim, having spent the last two years trying to take him out but having no luck in finding him. He’s gotten the tip that puts him in this building and it leads to a decent fight with some of the underlings, which is hard on Crimson Fist as he is getting older, before it leads him to Grimjim himself. This is one of those really dark characters that’s meant to be a near-impossible takedown and it unfolds well in showing how Grimjim gets away and the kind of stain it left on Crimson First for being unable to do so since he wanted to do right by the city before finishing out his career.
The present-day side to me is a lot more interesting as we get Grimjim arriving at the political event by Tex, aka Crimson Fist, as he’s intent on kidnapping him. That leads to a rare and really public event like for Grimjim and that, as know, has drawn in Skulldigger. The cops are in a panic, barely controlling the crowd, and not putting on focus on capes since it’s almost a matter of letting them kill each other. But what makes it really engaging, beyond Skulldigger going out in such a public way, is how it pushes our baptism of Skeleton Boy as he swipes his suit and gets down in on the action. You know it doesn’t go over well with Skulldigger, even if he helps at a key time, because Grimjim is not a normal opponent by any stretch of the imagination. And as we see the ties that bind a bit more clearly over the course of this, it just adds to the tension. Getting some quality time with Skeleton Boy in action really, really, makes my day though.
I’ve really been enjoying this series since the start with its exploration of a new avenue and it has me wanting a lot more. I want to see Crimson Fist in his prime. I want to see a lot more of how Skulldigger operates. I want to see if we’re going to get him and Skeleton Boy as a real team hitting the streets and getting things done their way. And I’m anxious to see how the next couple of issues play out in resolving this story as it could be bad for almost all of the characters involved. Lemire continues to do a great job in expanding this world while Zonjic was a fantastic choice to bring it to life. I can’t wait to get more and re-read it as a whole.
Age Rating: 15+
Released By: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: February 19th, 2020