Review: Sledgehammer 44 – Lightning War #3 (of 3)

This issue was a satisfying read. There were a couple of titles that had a story conclusion or a series conclusion this week, but for me this one was the most satisfying. It could be because the Sledgehammer character is a bit of an unknown. How exactly does he fit in with the rest of the Mignolaverse and what are Mignola and company’s plans for the character? I thought we would catch a glimmer of where this character was heading in this issue, but instead we’re given a rich character moment to end the issue. That was a huge part of what made it a satisfying read, but there were other factors to it as well.

A key part of this series has been Laurence Campbell’s artwork and the masterful coloring skills of Dave Stewart. Nothing against Jason Latour (the artist on the first series), but Campbell has stepped in and taken the reins on this character and left his mark on the Mignolaverse. Campbell’s work reminds me a lot of David Aja’s style on The Immortal Iron Fist. I think I’ve said this before on this series, but he captures this era perfectly. Campbell creates a window into this world for us to see. It’s heavy at times, but there is an overwhelming feeling of hope when you view the art for this story.

Campbell’s final showdown with Sledge and the flaming black skull dude is epic. Every poignant punch for the black skull only shows how overly confident he is. What is particularly great about Sledge is that he’s slow moving. There’s a reason the black skull calls him a Turtle and it’s not just because of his armor, but his movement as well. This comes across in the art and gives a clear metaphor of the turtle and the hare.

Sledgehammer 44 - Lightning War #3 CoverWith the artwork comes the lettering as well; Clem Robins brings our characters words to life and adds that extra little bit of personality that each character needs. Obviously the skull does most of the talking and with Robins’ craft you can hear the German accent, the pompousness of the character. It’s clear that the skull thinks he has everything in the bag and while part of that is the dialogue itself, another part is the craft attached to the dialogue.

As for the story, it’s mostly just a battle between Sledge and the black skull. The writing here is fantastic with the black skull stealing the show. His words and mannerisms make him a likeable villain. He plays the Nazi well as he offer Sledge the opportunity to have his men leave alive if he’ll open his shell. Sledge is a man of few words, but skully sets him up for perfect come backs with his endless talking. They really are different sides of the same coin.

Is there more to say about this issue? Yes and no. If it was a conversation about the issue and series then by all means we could have a very long discussion about the metaphors of this story, the fantastic and heartfelt ending and so much more. That sounds great as a conversation, but for a review that would render reading the issue pointless.

If you missed out on the first series and passed on this volume then you really should go back and pick this volume up from the beginning. Not only does the first issue recap the previous two chapters, but it sets up this new character in the Mignolaverse for one hell of a ride. Again, this was the most satisfying comic I read this week and one that any comic fan should check out.

Score: 5/5

Writers: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi Artist: Laurence Campbell Colorist: Dave Stewart Letterer: Clem Robins Price: $3.50 Release Date: 1/29/14