Martillo: Devil-Smiter by Greg Meldrum and David Broughton is an independent comic by one of the creators of Spectre Show, which I reviewed a few weeks back. This story, while ripe with all the edgy artwork David Broughton typically brings to the table, is instead about 1950s Spain. A man stands between humanity and supernatural wickedness. …and Pablo Picasso, apparently. (I was as bewildered as you when I first read that, I promise.) Since I enjoyed Spectre Show, I definitely wanted to give Martillo a chance.
It is 1948, and General Franco’s fascist government rules Spain with an iron fist. Isolated from the rest of Europe, the country has become a breeding ground for supernatural wickedness – and that’s where Martillo comes in.
A servant of the Saint of Labourers, Martillo wields a hammer and smites evil – HARD! In this collection, Martillo takes on pagan storm-gods, metal-obsessed spectres, sadistic thorn-monsters, gold-eating devil-weasels, hungry bogeymen and Pablo Picasso! But can even Martillo save a nation that still bears the psychic scars of the Civil War?
Featuring scenes of goat-defenestration and Cubism gone bad, this 52-page black and white US-format comic by Greg Meldrum and David Broughton features interior guest-art by Judge Dredd supremo Ben Willsher.
This book is not for the faint of heart. There is blood to be shed, and there is no better man suited for the task than Martillo “The Hammer”. He tosses goats out windows, beats children with giant hammers, and faces off against the bogeyman all in the name of his Lord. His intention? To cast out evil and to make sinners pay for the wrongs they have committed. Unfortunately, instead of serving only his lord, the priest Martillo comes to serve under men who do not have holy interests at heart. All in all, it makes for a fairly heavy subject matter.
With that being said, amidst the heavy religious rhetoric and Spanish, there are lighter moments. The occasional pun makes an appearance, most of which are either legitimately funny or bad enough to elicit a chuckle, or something else will lighten the mood. A mark of good storytelling is the ability to punctuate action sequences with humor or essential plot points, and Martillo delivers in spades. The piousness and dryness of Martillo’s character makes it easy to imagine many of his lines being delivered in a monotone, deadpan voice. This makes his attempts at humor (though they are likely unintentional) all that much more humorous.
Overall, Martillo: Devil-Smiter is an incredibly enjoyable read. It satisfies my need for evil and destruction, as well as my appreciation for characters who are blinded by their dedication to a cause. If you like comics which feature a ‘creature of the week’ format/a variety of enemies being presented over a short span and a compelling plot line filled with interesting bad guys and main characters, this is an issue for you. The artwork is varied enough that the creatures don’t by any means become mundane as you’re shuffled through the collection. Plus, the section where Martillo fights Pablo Picasso must be seen in order to believed. (It isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds once it’s put to paper, I assure you.)
You can pick a hard copy of Martillo up through Comicsy here: https://www.comicsy.co.uk/martillo/store/products/martillo/ or follow the work of the creators David Broughton: https://dbroughton.blogspot.com/ and Greg Meldum: https://hisowndrum.blogspot.co.uk/ on their own websites.