Welcome back to a new edition of New Release Reviews for Dark Horse Comics. A couple of books are just dropping bombs this week. As always … titles are scored on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the very best possible. We take the time to read these books so your time isn't wasted.
Sledgehammer 44 - Issue 1 (of 2)
This is another short series from the creator of Hellboy, and it might even take place in the Hellboy universe. Mike Mignola cowrote this story about some sort of super-soldier used during World War II and soldiers that served along side it. There are several mysteries at play. What is the Sledgehammer? And why is everyone so interested in this thing?
From a story-telling standpoint, it's as excellent as any of Mignola's work. Hellboy. B.P.R.D. Lobster Johnson. Even Baltimore. It's an exciting story about big creature fighting Nazi's which never gets old. Mignola has become a master at creating atmosphere, in as few pages as possible. The story is taut and efficient. Even with this sparse numbers of pages, the humanity of the characters is still able to shine through. And credit is due to his co-writer, John Arcudi.
Praise is deserved for artist Jason Latour. His style is very unique. There is a simplicity to it as he's not bogged down with unneeded detail. There is a certain cartoony quality all the while still having a mature style to it. This is an artist that is going places. The cover, of course, is by Mignola and it's as good as all the rest of his artwork.
Score: 9 out of 10
Buddy Cops - One-Shot
This one-shot was originally serialized in Dark Horse Presents, though it has new book-ends to the stories. And what stories they are. The tone is set with the story recap which is quite funny. Very funny. And very messed up. It's probably not for younger readers but maybe they'll enjoy it even though most of the jokes will probably be lost on them. It can't be stressed how weird and humorous this comic is. Hopefully, there will be more issues. The interior artwork is alright, and the cover is the same.
Score: 8 out of 10
Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 9 - Issue 19
Sometimes, when the hero looses, things aren't all bad. Usually, they're good for the story. What motivation do readers have to check in each month of the heroes are infallible. That's boring and this is something the creative team behind Buffy has always known. So, no matter how strong and fast she is, she still makes sense and has all the rest of the insecurities young women have.
Not lost on them, as well, was the slow unraveling of her greatest asset which has been the Scooby Gang. The Buffy army and Slayer legions have spread out leaving her on her own. She's never been good on her own so the creators have laid out a smart plan to build a new Scooby Gang. This group really starts to take shape this issue and damage unexpected is revealed.
This is an angry story, but mostly among the friends. Lots of shouty going on. And it was nice to see them finally figure out what's wrong, even if it was painfully obvious to long time fans. The interior artwork has been solid for this series and this issue is no different. Plenty of detail and bright, solid coloring. The cover is very good and augers events inside.
Score: 8 out of 10
Star Wars - Issue 3
This series has been great as it fills in a time the general public isn't aware of which is after A New Hope but before The Empire Strikes Back. The core group of characters have been through war but aren't as tight as they become. This is very noticeable between Luke and Leia. It's strange that there still isn't complete trust between them. And the jealousy part seems strange, now, but makes sense from a certain point of view.
All of the characters are in places we've not seen them. Luke is enjoying his status as Death Star killer, and even seems to have a love interest. Leia is not dealing well with the pressures of being in charge and only seems to have Wedge to rely upon. Even Darth Vader is having problems as he's been relieved of command for what happened at Yavin IV. The only people who don't seem that evolving are Han and Chewbacca as they just seem to get into trouble.
It's fun having things shaken up a bit. And to see characters have to work through adversity as not everyone has quite grown up. The looming cliffhanger hints at an exciting next issue. The interior artwork is solid. The artists are skilled presenting dynamic images and vibrant colors. The cover is very cinematic. It sets the story up nicely, however, the Obi-Wan inclusion seems out of place.
Score: 9.5 out of 10
Awesome week, Dark Horse. Awesome week. Star Wars and Sledgehammer 44 are definite must-have. Everything else is solid. Kudos. Stop back next week for more New Release Reviews.