Sledgehammer '44 collects two stories. The first is a two-parter with art by Jason Latour, which is a bit of an introduction to the character and the set-up. The Sledgehammer is a one-man robot combat suit powered by mystical vril energy and almost impossible to take down by conventional means, and he's spearheading the Allied advance across Nazi-occupied Europe in 1944. The character and concept were first introduced in the Lobster Johnson series The Iron Prometheus, so this two-parter acts mainly as a re-introduction for those who missed that.
It's the second (three-part) story that I suspect most Mignola-verse fans will be interested to read, though. Lightning War sees the return of mystic Raimund Diestel, last seen on a gangster's payroll and causing trouble for Lobster Johnson in downtown Manhattan (the story collected in The Burning Hand TPB.) Recruited by the Third Reich at the start of the story and given a new purpose in life as Nazi super-villian the Black Flame, it's his interuption of a test flight for a new aircraft that sees him come into contact with the Sledgehammer. The story is arguably one extended fight scene, but what a fight scene it is! Artist Laurence Campbell knocks this one out of the park - the fight happens takes place in the night sky, during a rainstorm, and is the sort of filmic-quality scene that comics can do so well when everything works.
So you may want to seek those Lobster Johnson series out for all that extra backstory, although everything's explained well enough here that you shouldn't have any trouble diving right in. A fun addition to the Mignola-verse that's well worth buying for the Black Flame story - and an essential one, too, given that the Slegdehammer suit next turned up in the present day, becoming quite important for the BPRD in their ongoing apocalyptic conflict...
Sledgehammer 44 collects the two “Sledgehammer” mini-series, “Sledgehammer 44” issues #1 & #2, and “Lightning War” issues #1-3. These are two BPRD-related stories set in Europe in the latter half of 1944.
The first story was originally intended to be drawn by veteran artist John Severin, who had been doing projects for Dark Horse, and various story components were assembled from the BPRD vaults to build the plot, revolving around the Vril armour from an earlier Lobster Johnson story. The opening two pages that were pencilled by Mr Severin are included in the gallery at the end of the book.
The opening two-part story sees the Vril suit deployed as a battlefield weapon by the Allies, with some curious results - and a giant Nazi robot/battlesuit!
The second story sees the Nazi reaction to the first story, with the Black Flame unleashed, allied secret-weapon aircraft being stolen, and lots of mystical/cosmic stuff, which is eventually resolved in the present-day BPRD series.
This was an entertaining story that bridges a gap of sorts between the BPRD of the 1940s and the present-day. It is pretty much a stand-alone volume, but an entertaining one.
I absolutely loved this, the story in both mini arcs is brilliant, faced paced and exciting. The art is stunning and the story answered some questions I has that were left unresolved from the Lobster Johnson series.