EXCLUSIVE: 'Skulldigger + Skeleton Boy' #3
Cover to ‘Skulldigger + Skeleton Boy’ #3. Art: Tonči Zonjić/Dark Horse Comics

by Jarrod Jones. The Age of Doom is over. Now Black Hammer is charting the expanses of its own New Frontier.

Spiral City was once a metropolis of wonders and heroism, now it’s sinking into a vulgar pit of crime and despair. Where once one could thrill to the two-fisted exploits of Abraham Slam, Spiral now clings to whoever they can get to stand between them and that one bad night that changes everything.

Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy is Black Hammer as you like it—a vividly rendered funhouse mirror reflection of worlds we’ve recognized elsewhere, given its own life by Jeff Lemire and Tonči Zonjić. Only here, those mirrors have cracked: A young boy witnesses the random murders of his parents only to then meet a would-be savior who has come far, far too late. Standing before him like a weather-beaten oak tree and mumbling feeble apologies is Skulldigger, a bruiser vigilante who sends his parents’ killer head-first into oblivion and soon after takes the boy under his wing. Everything’s gone wrong.

Issue #3 of Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy is going to be a doozy. In prior issues, Lemire & Zonjić explored the shadows of a Spiral City gone to seed, evoking powerful images that recalled Gibbons, Miller, and Timm. In the exclusive pages below provided by Dark Horse Comics, they’ve gone full Cooke: We’ve flashed back to the final days in the career of masked hero the Crimson Fist, who once stalked the rictus-grinning maniac, Grimjack.

Zonjić plays with shadows, makes the city look absolutely filthy—even the rain falls in muddy streaks. Then the Crimson Fist leaps across alleyways—a bolt of light erupts in the skies!—and he catches his fall, barely, cracking a rib and feeling his age as the dirty rain soaks his dark cloak. Steve Wands, the letterer of this particular melodrama, supplies chunky captions ripped from Fist’s journal, adding to Skulldigger‘s pulpy flavor and giving us a captivating perspective on what a nightly campaign against criminality can do to a person. What’s inside that building is bad news, something Fist may be better off not knowing. He cracks a window and lurches inside.

Read the pages below and try not to fall into them. Lemire is mining rich ore for this latest Black Hammer joint, a Nineties-set tale of punishers and madmen and lost detectives attempting to find some meaning in it all. Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy is molten-hot crime comics and you have your first look at its latest issue below. Dive in.

$3.99 | M | FEBRUARY 19

Written by Jeff Lemire.
Illustrated by Tonči Zonjić.
Letters by Steve Wands.
Cover A by Tonči Zonjić.
Cover B by Patric Reynolds.

From Dark Horse Comics: After murderous lunatic Grimjim crashes the rally of mayoral hopeful Tex Reed in a sufficiently violent manner, the past comes to light, revealing Grimjims long-standing vendetta against Tex and Skulldigger’s very personal reasons for wanting Grimjim dead.