It’s The Mighty Skullkickers #1! (Or Skullkickers #21, but who’s counting?) On the surface, Skullkickers is doing a satirical take on the comic industry’s over-reliance on adjectives and renumbering, but what’s going on inside these covers? This Major Spoilers review has the answer.
THE MIGHTY SKULLKICKERS #1
Story: Jim Zub
Pencils: Edwin Huang
Inks: Edwin Huang & Kevin Raganit
Colors: Misty Coats & Mike Luckas
Color Flatting: Ludwig Olimba
Letters: Marshall Dillon
Publisher: Image Comics
Previously in Skullkickers: Washed ashore on an island populated by intelligent apes, gunslinger Rex and elven warrior Kusia are on the trail of an evil temple. Meanwhile, Rolf Copperhead has recovered from a slight case of death and may or may not be possessed by demons after a brief trip through the underworld. In any event, the little guy is on a tear searching for some beer.
FUN IN THE SUN
The first part of the issue features Rex delving into the Pool of Great Reflection, in order to prove to the intelligent gorilla people that he is a worthy warrior. It’s an amusing fight, cleverly employing that old convention of battle with an evil doppelganger. This is emblematic of what Skullkickers does great: take a familiar genre trope and putting an interesting spin on it. Obviously, there are a lot of stock pulp elements in this story, from Lovecraftian monsters from beyond to the secret tribe of smart gorillas. But in Jim Zub’s hands, these story elements seem fresh again. He keeps the story light and quick, engaging the reader with lots of visual humor. As quick as the jokes were, I wish the plot unfolded with the same energy, but it’s often the case that multi-issue arcs sag a little in the middle. The first issue of this arc was a jumping-on point for me. Three issues in, and as much as I can’t wait to see where the story is going from here, I’m even more excited to get caught up with the preceding issues of Skullkickers.
And don’t let the #1 on this issue fool you. This is actually the 21st issue of Skullkickers. The past few issues have featured a prolonged joke about titles and renumbering, starting with Uncanny Skullkickers #1, continuing with Savage Skullkickers #1 and this issue. The fact the creators are willing to do play the joke to the hilt (and Image is willing to allow it) is a credit, even if it may be confusing for the unfamiliar.
FIRING ON ALL CYLINDERS
Edwin Huang is simply brilliant on art. It’s not just his clean, chunky, cartoony style that makes Skullkickers so good; it’s the way he juxtaposes action against dialogue for humorous effect. Zub’s script and Huang’s art mesh perfectly together, as do the rest of the creative team’s efforts. The colors are bright and peppy, the lettering well-placed and emphasized – it’s rare to find a work as cohesive as this. I honestly can’t find anything to complain about on the visual side of things; Skullkickers is just so visually appealing and engaging.
BOTTOM LINE: IT FEELS LIKE THAT D&D CAMPAIGN YOU WISH YOU WERE PLAYING
Skullkickers reminds me a lot of Major Spoilers’ favorite
Atomic Robo in terms of what it’s doing. These sort of books are just a lot more fun than most anything coming out of the Big 2 right now. In one issue, there’s a doppleganger fight, a wild rumpus, a horde of intelligent apes, a dwarf vomiting seawater then calling out for meat beer – hell, someone even chops up a melon! This is a series I’d recommend to most anyone. Midway through this arc, Skullkickers shows no signs of slowing down. I also appreciate how, at the end of each issue, the creators pull back the curtain a little and showcase different bits of their creative processes. This is evidence of a creative team that truly wants to engage with a fanbase, and maybe provide a little inspiration as well. The Mighty Skullkickers #1 earns a lofty four and a half out of five stars. Check it out.
DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!