Best Shots Advance Reviews: BUDDY COPS, SLEDGEHAMMER 44


Buddy Cops

Written by Nate Cosby

Art by Evan Shaner

Lettering by Rus Wooton

Published by Dark Horse

Review by Lan Pitts

'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

Originally printed in Dark Horse Presents in a three-part story, Buddy Cops finally comes to fans who may have missed it the first time around in a one-shot format. The main problem here is that it definitely reads like three random issues placed together and tries to make a cohesive story out of it. It works to an extent, but not how I imagined it would.

The set up is unique with the issue essentially being a clip show of Dennis, a.k.a. Uranus, and his robot partner T.A.Z.E.R. on some of their wildest adventures. So that's the seam that ties it all together, and it's a nice packaged idea, but around the middle story things get sort of lost. Writer Nate Cosby takes an almost Booster Gold/Blue Beetle dynamic and amps it to eleven. Uranus is crass, loud, and ready to kick ass, while T.A.Z.E.R. is the more serene and rational one. The situations are outlandish and it's good to see creators have some fun and let loose for a bit. It's not every day you see humans get impregnated and give birth to what essentially becomes Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors.

Evan Shaner is one of the brightest young talents in comics working today. He's only had a few published issues in the past couple of years, but his animated style is something to admire. His line work is reminiscent of C. C. Beck and Stan Sakai, with bold and broad inking like Alex Toth. Shaner's art meshes with the zaniness of the stories here well, and makes the idea of a ninety-foot monk orangutan almost plausible in this world.

Shaner's colors aren't bad, either. It's a more toned-down color scheme that gives weight and texture to the pages without taking away from the line work itself. Shaner usually colors himself, and his style really hasn't differed over the years that much, but it's pretty solid nonetheless.

Buddy Cops is something that comicdom needs at the moment. It's fun, eccentric, and vulgar at times, but a book that needs to be read to be believed. Fans of Marvel's indie creator-made Strange Tales would probably enjoy this read, too.


Sledgehammer 44 #1

Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi

Art by Jason Latour and Dave Stewart

Lettering by Clem Robins

Published by Dark Horse Comics

Review by Jose Camacho

'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Mike Mignola gathers his frequent collaborator John Arcudi along with Jason Latour ( Winter Soldier) and Dave Stewart ( Conan the Barbarian) to create yet another new tale in the vein of Hellboy and B.P.R.D. Set during World War II, a small U.S. unit is sent to France for a secret mission called Project Epimetheus. They do not seem to have been briefed too well, because they are not ready for what’s in store.

Not to undermine the creative team, but one could describe Sledgehammer 44 as Mignola’s version of Iron Man in World War II — in fact, that's pretty much what Dark Horse called in the book's solicitation. Obvious similarities aside, Mignola and team have assembled a character that is worlds away from Tony Stark’s alter ego. This is not a genius billionaire in high-tech armor; Sledgehammer is a gritty, scrappy behemoth. In just a few pages, he’s launched out of a plane (while inside what looked like a replica of “Fat Man”) and takes down a Nazi machine gun nest utilizing what seemed to be some sort of electric powers. Mignola and Arcudi use action, not dialogue, to create mystery and allure. We quickly see that Sledgehammer is a quiet robot-like soldier that knows when to retreat and bide his time. This is different from the stubborn and impulsive Iron Man. If Mignola’s previous protagonists are any sign of what we have in store, this will be another memorable creation.

The issue opens with Redding and Glesham, two U.S. soldiers in the unit tasked with assisting the titular character, bickering about the mission at hand. They serve as witnesses to Sledgehammer’s appearance and power. Redding, Glesham and the unit provide gruff banter that moves the story along yet they do little to escape their own anonymity. This is the biggest flaw of the issue; the unit seems to be made of up of stereotypical soldiers who think of themselves as underdogs following unfair orders. Simply put, they lack their own identity. The only reason you can spot Redding is due to his glasses.

Sledgehammer 44 is drawn in the same style often associated with Hellboy and B.P.R.D., so it will appeal to fans of Mignola’s previous work.  There is a slight deviation. Sledgehammer 44 has a distinct vintage look about it that mirrors WWII-era films. Grainy, distorted art and pale camouflage colors dominate the issue. This cinematic combination creates a historical aura. Latour’s pencil thin approach also helps to add historical character to the art, as seen in the panel where the soldiers are pushing Sledgehammer out of the city in a wheelbarrow.

Mignola and Arcudi managed to achieve a couple of key things with this issue. They introduced their titular character in an entertaining and mysterious way (Is Sledgehammer a robot or a human?). The issue starts at a quick pace and does not let up. Normally, this could have proven problematic but the writing team delivers a thriller. Finally, they teased at greater plotlines that will help keep readers waiting for the next issue.

This is an exciting new chapter in Mignola’s body of work. We have been given a great foundation: a mysterious protagonist and a dangerous setting. The writing team is definitely keeping their cards close to their vests. An action packed script like this one needed a strong art team. Latour and Stewart absolutely delivered by creating a war-torn France where robotic gladiators and Nazis lurk. Grab this issue and jump in on an exhilarating new series.

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