Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Jackboot & Ironheel #3 - IDW Publishing

JACKBOOT & IRONHEEL No. 3, October 2016
Max Millgate undoubtedly ramps up both the fear and loathing factors for “Issue Three” of “Jackboot & Ironheel” by not only depicting Kommandant Von-Kleist’s loyal driver Kurt getting bitten in half by some five-storey tall tentacled monstrosity, but subsequently having his ‘creator-drive comic’ conclude with a well-meaning nun being cold-bloodily gunned-down through the back by a “Mein Kampf” reading German guard. Such graphically illustrated bodily mutilation and unchristian barbarism genuinely manages to incite the senses, and undoubtedly ensured that the majority of this title’s mortified readership were eager to acquire the mini-series’ fourth and final instalment; even if it was simply to confirm that the poor resourceful Sister Evangeline had actually reached her bloody end on the cold floor of solitary cell number nine.

Impressively however, this twenty-two page periodical’s narrative doesn’t just depict a plethora of mindlessly violent, supposedly inter-connecting action sequences. For whilst the freelance illustrator’s script does add to “the body count”, it also finally provides some context as to just why the “Prisoner Of War camp within the walls of a medieval castle” is haunted and how come “in times of great conflict” the defunct bell tower can be heard ringing. Indeed, in many ways the recounting of the legend of Count Ludwig Stromberg’s local bell maker Wulf is arguably the highlight of the book, with its wonderfully atmospheric illustrations, gorgeously gold colouring and stingingly effective morale tale that it is never wise to triumphantly declare that “even god cannot defeat me!”

Millgate even finds the time to actually add some personality to the story’s stereotypically “sinister ‘S.S.’ officer” by having Lungotz Luftzig’s Kommandant discuss his plans for Englishman Eddie Neale with his Kübelwagen confidant; “Permission to speak is granted. I can hear you thinking anyway”. This somewhat ‘sincere’ relationship between the two soldiers clearly establishes the cold-hearted man is capable of feeling emotions, even if it doesn’t help endear Von-Kleist to the publication's audience. Yet it also provides some weight to Kurt’s grisly disembowelment later on in the book and arguably even adds a hint of anguish to the voice of the comic’s main antagonist when, despite being enthralled within the tentacle of “a demonic monstrous thing”, he despairing calls out his deceased driver’s name…
The variant 'subscription' cover art of "JACKBOOT & IRONHEEL" No. 3 by Max Millgate

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