Tempers flare as we approach the finale to this incredible series set within the Black Hammer Universe.
Although it may cost her her job and her relationship, Detective Reyes has finally found the lost young boy who was taken in by Skulldigger. The kid is all about the vigilante life now though. Can she break him of this bloodlust? Grimjim is still on the loose so no one is out of the danger zone yet.
Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy #5 continues this fascinating series. While Reyes was always a foil lurking in the background, here we get a look at her past and a better understanding of why she’s fighting so hard. This might have been helpful in establishing her earlier on, it has a nice impact in this chapter.
Writer Jeff Lemire gives us an interesting contrast in parenting styles. Both Reyes and Skulldigger still want what’s best for the boy, although they have very different ideas as to how he should be raised. One wants to protect him at all costs particularly from horrifying sights that could remind him of the trauma he’s already been through. The other embraces that trauma with fists.
We get wrapped up in this compelling story and then Lemire pulls the rug out from under us, preparing for the finale to this series where everything is on the line. It’s amazing to look at how far each of these characters have come over the course of just five issues.
As fascinating as this story is, it would be nothing without Tonci Zonjic’s artwork. He really stretches the boundary of the medium in this issue. This starts with an amazing use of color, driving home the intense emotions of each sequence. Reyes is driving out to the desert and the hot sun beats down to the point where everything else fades away in a haze of white. It shows how these characters are at a crossroads with an uncertain future.
When we bounce to Skulldigger, waking up after a rough battle in the previous chapter, the panels are organized in a way that everything comes to focus for the character. We start with a similar bright light before returning to the shadows this character is more comfortable in. You can almost hear the ticking of a loud clock as he takes these steps towards his destiny, however bloody that may be.
Finally, we build towards an incredible encounter between the main players with an erratic layout. It’s like the board has been flipped and all the pieces have been thrown everywhere. The panels look like they’ve been cut out of other images to form a strange collage of chaos.
Letterer Steve Wands captures all of the emotion in this with some great dialogue work. The word balloons are intense as tempers flare so you feel every bit of the terror on display.
I’ve enjoyed each and every Black Hammer title, but Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy is my favorite yet. This is a great book, not just because of its connection to this impressive and riveting universe, but because it’s an incredible story on its own. Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy stands tall as one of the best comics of the year.