The good news is that Skullkickers is sold out at the distribution level and a 2nd printing is already in preproduction. So what is the bad news?
COVERS BY: CHRIS STEVENS (A & B)
WRITER: JIM ZUBKAVICH
PENCILS: CHRIS STEVENS & EDWIN HUANG
COLORED BY: MISTY COATS
LETTERED BY: MARSHALL DILLON
PUBLISHED BY: IMAGE COMICS
With work previously published in Popgun, writer Jim Zubkavich and artist Chris Stevens have some experience under their belts in the world of comics creation. While this is the first published work from Edwin Huang, he has studied under the aegis of superstar artists Klaus Janson and Phil Jimenez.
The Men Without Names
An essential component of a first issue is to establish a connection between your readers and protagonist(s). This comic defies convention by not only making the characters appear to be one dimensional, but Zubkavich also makes the conscious decision to avoid disclosing their names. The book is solicited as a fantasy action-comedy. The fantasy element is indisputable; the town looks like a fairly generic town one would expect to see in any given Dungeons & Dragons campaign. Much of the character development (what little there is), takes place in the tavern. The two main characters consist of a giant of a man who thinks before he acts, and the other can accurately be described as a dwarf with a fighting spirit and a penchant for alcohol.
The characters act in a mercenary capacity, taking down various monsters and threats in exchange for compensation. The day a royal arrives in town and is murdered before he even has a chance to dismount, our story kicks into gear. Suddenly it seems that the previously reluctant law enforcement official of the town realizes that he needs our two heroes to subdue this assassin with other worldly abilities.
Haven’t We Been Here Before
This all seems vaguely familiar. This doesn’t really cover any new ground nor does it entice me to continue with the series to find out what happens next. The art shows a strong manga influence with a muted color palate. Additionally, many of the camera angles and character placements seem to bleed throughout the entirety of the book.
Some positive elements are present and need to be mentioned. Huang and Stevens share penciling duties and I can honestly say that the artwork remained seamless throughout the book. You also get a boost in your dollar value with the inclusion of back matter. Sketches and behind the scenes thought processes are shared and it’s obvious to tell that the creators are very enthusiastic and passionate about this project. Unfortunately, enthusiasm and extra pages didn’t combat my overall lack of enthusiasm for the book. It should also be noted that any humor elements completely escaped me.
For those who enjoy manga-influenced art and a linear sword and sorcery story made up of very familiar themes, this may resonate more strongly with you. This earns 2 out of 5 stars.