Star Wars #4
Writer: Brian Wood
Art: Carlos D’Anda
Publisher: Dark Horse
If you read last month’s review for Issue #3, then you’d know that I appreciated the subtle differences in this series from the larger Star Wars universe. Though they’re a bit jarring at first, they’re just subtle enough to make old characters fresh and intriguing again…. if you don’t mind that sort of thing. If it’s one thing I’ve learned from reading the Walking Dead and watching the Walking Dead, it’s that you have to learn to accept differences in the base material depending on the format you’re using.
Well, the differences in this issue continue to grow to a degree that makes me a bit too uncomfortable. I want my Vader to be strong, confident in his power, and ready and willing to use it to accomplish his goals. In this issue we see Vader essentially throw a tempter tantrum, needlessly slay some dude, then stand down when he’s called out on it. It just felt…wrong. Despite those types of sidesteps, what’s more disturbing is the far too frenetic pace at which this issue moves. At one moment you’re with Luke contemplating his journey, the following panel you’re with Darth Vader aboard the new Death Star, and only 2 panels after that you’re following Han and Chewie across their misadventures.
To make matters worse, all of those different subplots play second, third, and fourth fiddle to a chaotic battle sequence where Leia is a vicious, bullish even, fighter pilot. It’s just all over the place. Between the strange new takes on beloved characters and the disjointed narrative, I’m beginning to lose interest in this series. And if you knew just how much of a Star Wars fan I am, you’d know that is saying something.
I give this issue an unfortunate 2 of 5 Nerdskulls.
Writer: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art: Jason Latour
Publisher: Dark Horse
They say the mark of a great entertainer is that they always leave you wanting more. While this 2nd and final issue does exactly that, it does so not out of wonder and amazement (leave that to series like Colder), but with a sense of unfulfilled promise. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with Sledgehammer 44. It’s a great story and a very touching one, at that. In fact, Sledgehammer 44 #1 was one of my favorite comics last month.
I just get the sense that this two-issue run could’ve been so much more. We pick up where we left off last month, with the mysterious Sledgehammer incapacitated and his support team under pressure from Nazi forces. However, after a brief, if somewhat trivialized, heroic stand, the story takes a turn.
What was one page ago a fierce – brief, but fierce – battle, quickly turns into an intense, personal struggle for survival. I won’t say much more than that, except for this… in the 2nd half of the book, we do get an answer to many of the questions we may have had about Sledgehammer. But not without posing new ones. Hopefully, this isn’t the last we see of Sledgehammer and his troop. If it is, then Mignola and team has crafted one of the best two-issue arcs I’ve read in any comic recently. After all, some stories can be brief touching tales meant to pose questions, not answer them.
Sledgehammer 44 #2 gets 4 out of 5 Nerdskulls.