REVIEW: Skullkickers #17

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Baby Thool is mind controlling the crew, the Kraken is up from the sea floor to rescue the baby, and characters die! Major Spoilers saved all the rum and is now giving you the rundown of Skullkickers #17!


Skullkickers #17
Writer: Jim Zub
Pencils: Edwin Huang
Inks: Edwin Huang, Kevin Raganit
Colors: Misty Coats, Mike Luckas, Ross Campbell
Letters: Marshall Dillon
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.50

 

Previously in Skullkickers: Baldy and Short Stuff stowed away on the Mermaid’s Bottom after their last adventure left them in not too friendly relations with the authorities. Little did they know, a creature from another realm also managed to board the ship and was ready to do some mind controlling. Now the crew is under Thool’s control and our heroes are fighting to keep them at bay while not drowning from the waves created by the Kraken!

MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE

Up to this point in the epic that is Skullkickers you could get away with thinking that it was simply a violent, curse fest with fantasy elements and belly-bursting laughs thrown in, but it is no longer just that. In this Six Shooter on the Seven Seas story arc Jim Zub has been shaping this comic’s world more pointedly than previous stories, while also giving us a thicker storyline.

The moment that proved to me Zub is ready to launch Skullkickers into new territory wasn’t the big, life-hanging-in-the-balance cliffhanger, but a beat that should have a lasting impact in future stories. After the Kraken had been dealt with, Baby Thool sprung into action and took over Cap’n Cherry Cutlas’s mind. The captain then lunges at Kusia with her magical, talking sword. The sword and Kusia chat for a second, which ends with Kusia declaring she will be the new owner of the sword. At that point the sword swirls through the air and sticks itself right through Cutlas’s stomach. What that sequence means for coming character development and tone shifts still has me reeling.

But if you are worried that the humor is phasing out of the book you are completely wrong. Much humor comes, again, from the narrator chiming in. And unless we had a change in narrator from last issue, the single narration voice means he might have offed his counterpart. Which could bring story reliability questions to the table, but we can shelve that for another time. What is important is that the self-aware nature of the narrator quips brings a laugh to what is ultimately a downer of an issue.

AND THAT EYE SEES NICE THINGS

Every time I crack an issue of Skullkickers I start drooling over Edwin Huang’s artwork. His characters have so much life and the monsters can find a balance between majestic and terrifying. What really impressed me this issue, and really the rest of the arc, is his ability to tell a story visually.

But Huang just works on the pencils and inks which leaves so much more to be done into making this title the visual enjoyment that it is. One of those aspects is the lettering, and Marshall Dillon may be my favorite at that task. His work at capturing both the action and tongue-in-cheek nature of the book creates an experience I have never had anywhere else. I dare you to pick up an issue and not laugh at how he handles action sound effects.

BOTTOM LINE: JOIN THE RIDE

The bottom line is that Skullkickers was a great book just when the violence and crazy antics drove the book, but now that we are getting that on top of a deep back-story with a complex storyline, Skullkickers has entered the realm of “must-buy”. If you haven’t ever read Skullkickers go pick up the first issue, if you like that go read the trades. Once you have fallen in love and make it to this issue hopefully it will strike you as the masterpiece it did me. Skullkickers #17 receives a much-deserved 5 out of 5 stars.

Rating: ★★★★★