Review: A Young Hero Enters The Fray In ‘Skulldigger & Skeleton Boy #3’

by James Ferguson

The villainous Grimjim has invaded a campaign rally for mayoral candidate Tex Reed (formerly known as the vigilante Crimson Fist). These two are long standing nemeses so the fight gets dirty fast. Skulldigger joins the fray, but he’s not the only one. Skeleton Boy finally suits up.

It was only a matter of time before we saw Skeleton Boy in the field and this issue definitely delivers. Artist Tonci Zonjic creates a varied panel layout when the kid shows up, mirroring the frenetic energy he brings to the battle. Things seem to move much faster when Skeleton Boy is on the scene, like the stakes have been raised. A new variable has been added to the equation.

This is just part of Zonjic’s impressive talents on display in Skulldigger & Skeleton Boy #3. Every page is a visual powerhouse with a depth of emotion that adds so much to every scene. For example, this issue is bookended by a flashback to Crimson Fists’s adventures hunting Grimjim. They’re shown in a more old-school style, harkening back to years ago. This is matched by the colors too that are more faded than the present day scenes. This creates a bit of nostalgia which is perfect for the Black Hammer line.

Although we don’t see Crimson Fists’s face under the mask, his mannerisms give us an idea of just how much this never-ending war on crime has taken out of him. Of course, letterer Steve Wands shows us that first hand with excerpts from the vigilante’s journal shown like pieces of looseleaf paper.

Color is used so incredibly well in Skulldigger & Skeleton Boy #3. There’s a great sequence where the young hero is picking a lock to get to his costume and help out. It’s shaded in an ominous red. It’s like the world is trying to tell the boy that this is danger and nothing but bloodshed is waiting behind that door, but he doesn’t heed those warnings.

I’ve made comparisons to Batman and Robin throughout the run of this series so far and for good reason. Writer Jeff Lemire plays with super hero tropes throughout Black Hammer and this book is no different. This issue is where Lemire really ups the ante, pulling a major twist that left my jaw on the floor. It filled me with the best kind of questions, but more importantly, it made me desperate for the next issue. This is an incredible comic.

Skulldigger & Skeleton Boy #3 from Dark Horse Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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