Friday, 6 January 2017

Jackboot & Ironheel #4 - IDW Publishing

JACKBOOT & IRONHEEL No. 4, November 2016
Up until the point where he is (presumably) fatally pierced through the back by an enormous demonic tail-spike, Max Millgate’s titular character for Issue Four of “Jackboot & Ironheel” rather plays out like a moustached incarnation of George Lucas’ fictional archaeologist Indiana Jones. In fact, considering that the narrative for this twenty-two page periodical contains waterlogged secret passageways, a saintly hidden weapon buried deep underground and more gun-toting Nazis than a remake of the movie “The Last Crusade” could probably afford, it must have been genuinely hard for its readers not to have John Williams’ famous theme tune running through their heads as Eddie Neale assails a ruined tower, places his faith in God, and dodges bullets, tanks and even a squadron of planes…

Still, such similarities with the American media franchise are no bad thing at all, and apart from a touchingly sentimental opening, where Gunter bemoans Sister Evangeline’s cold-blooded murder by a German sentry and the former footballer sneakily manages to pilfer his guard's pistol, this “traditional war story set during World War Two” which “then takes a turn for the supernatural horror” is absolutely packed full of sense-stunning action. It certainly must have been hard for any perusing bibliophile to pause for breath once the British airman discovers a hidden stairway leading out of his cell, simultaneously avoids being shot at by both a Tiger Tank and Squadron of Stuka dive-bombers, and then subsequently finds himself facing the gigantic supernatural terror Kommandant Von-Kleist has inadvertently awakened; “One bullet left. Make it count!”

Perhaps this comic’s sole weakness is Millgate’s somewhat amateurish interior illustrations, which, whilst they do a fairly competent job of making it clear what is happening frame by frame, definitely lack the dynamic energy captured by the likes of Mike Mignola and his "German expressionism meets Jack Kirby" drawing style. However, considering the sheer scale of the mayhem caused by the Third Reich’s armoured response to the Devil’s satanic lake monster, the Leicester-born artist’s ‘minimalist’ approach at least provides a clear, uncluttered view of the pandemonium taking place, with a mutilated castle Kommandant, complete with eyes tentacles and gangrenous hand, proving a particularly stomach-churning treat for the eyes.
The variant 'subscription' cover art of "JACKBOOT & IRONHEEL" No. 4 by Max Millgate

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