After the first issue of Sledgehammer 44, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the second. The first was absolutely fantastic; and did an incredible job with introducing an entirely new character to the Mignolaverse. With a short two issue run, it seemed as though it might be a bit hard to wrap everything up in just one more issue. In a way, issue 2 does a good job at this to an extent, but it’s really all just one hell of a cliffhanger. You may think that’s a bad thing, but it’s actually great as long as Mignola does something else with the character.
In the last issue, we were left wondering what was going to happen to Sledgehammer and his squad of American soldiers looking down the barrel of a tank, and being forced to surrender the suit to Nazis. Sledgehammer is still unconscious and therefore useless for all practical purposes. Dale decides that they won’t shoot the tank and risk damaging the suit, and launches an attack on the Nazis. They win the fight, but in the process Redding takes a bullet. The team is forced to retreat from a much larger Nazi force, Redding insures that they don’t surrender and they take refuge in a barn. They are quickly surrounded, but once again assume that the Nazi’s wont shoot and risk damaging the suit.
Minor spoilers ahead. This is where things get kind of insane and we meet the soldier in the Sledgehammer suit for the first time. The man is known only by the name Fields and he meets Redding after he dies. Redding is given the choice to die and be relieved of all burdens in the living world, but instead chooses to make the problems of the living his own and protect his family and friends. Redding, seemingly the most unlikely hero, becomes Sledgehammer in order to save the world and in the process, loses his identity.
There are some deeper aspects that are unveiled about the actually technology that allows Sledgehammer to exist and some interesting powers the suit grants the wearer, but I’m not going to spoil everything. The bottom line is that Mignola has done an incredible job with this title. The twist in which Redding actually becomes Sledgehammer was done very well and turns the character from just an unnamed super soldier into a cross between Captain America and Iron man. Mignola and Arcudi actually manage to make you care about every character they introduce and still provides plenty of action to keep even readers with short attention spans interested. The strong foundation Arcudi and Mignola have created in just these two issues set the stage for what could be an extremely interesting miniseries, or maybe even an ongoing (I can hope!).
The art is just as good, if not better than the first issue. It is extremely well done, and the colors in this one are absolutely fantastic. The action sequences are flawless, fluid and detailed. The characters wear genuine emotion on their faces and each one is given clear and different expressions. The scenes involving Redding’s death are flat out incredible. The art does exactly what it should do, it greatly enhances the story and the characters and it makes the reader feel involved in the action.
If you aren’t reading this, you’re missing out. Mignola and Arcudi have got something special here and this is a book that is more than worth the sticker price. The only bad thing about this issue that it’s the end of the two issue run and that’s all we have for now.
Writers: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Artist: Jason Latour
Colorist: Dave Steward
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: 4/10/13