Sledgehammer 44: Lightning War #2
By Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Laurence Campbell & Dave Stewart
Fellow rabid fans of the Mignolaverse collectively rejoiced when it was announced that the Sledgehammer character would be getting another miniseries following the success of the first two-part story. The first installment in Lightning War was a fantastic, if relatively slow paced introduction to the current arc. Issue #2 kicks things into high gear with non-stop action.
Mike Mignola and John Arcudi have a penchant for slow, deliberate storytelling that can take some time to reach a crescendo despite being highly enjoyable along the way. However, Lightning War #2 was full of action and excitement. While there wasn’t much development of the background story, the current conflict was resolved nicely opening up for the final encounter between the protagonist and the long-despised Black Flame in the finale next month. Most of the issue was concerned with the rescue operation and Sledgehammer battling the Black Flame, which was admittedly great to see a big fight scene between these two. However, as typical for Mignola storytelling, there were some deeper elements which subtly hinted towards more understanding of the Sledgehammer suit and its apparent consciousness.
Laurence Campbell steals the show in issue #2, quickly becoming a personal favorite artistic contributor to the ever-expanding Mignolaverse. His illustrations and overall style in the Sledgehammer 44 series are perfectly suited to the tone and content of this story; the visuals are very realistic with great attention to detail, while simultaneously having a really gritty and pulp feel, particularly regarding the incredible inks present throughout the latest installment of Lightning War that almost engulf the action at times. This not only helps convey the dark, grim nature of the characters and environments, but is quite well-suited to both the time-period of the story and the supernatural elements throughout. As always, long-time Mignola collaborator Dave Stewart really seems to understand the tone of each story he works on, adapting accordingly. Again, his colors in the latest issue of Sledgehammer 44 really help emphasize the realism and tone of the story.
Sledgehammer 44 is a really interesting story; while most of the books in the world of Mike Mignola are veiled in mystery, the protagonist of this series is particularly enigmatic. The more cryptic elements consistently surface with interesting allusion, while Lightning War #2 also emphasized the raw action. This was a highly satisfying issue that has me really looking forward to the big showdown next month, which will be just in time for the Black Flame’s return to the flagship B.P.R.D. title!