Skullkickers vol. 1: 1000 Opas and a Dead Body
Written by Jim Zub, Art by Edwin Huang, Chris Stevens and Misty Coats
Image Comics, 144 pp.
Rating: 13 +
Skullkickers vol. 1: 1000 Opas and a Dead Body collects the first five issues of the new fantasy comedy series under one cover. Within you’ll find the adventures of a nameless dwarf and his equally nameless bald friend as they pursue the ever elusive payday they desire.
Skullkickers starts off with a bang and rarely lets up. It has a fast paced fantasy adventure feel mixed with two leads who feel like they stepped out of a buddy movie. The story itself is a constant build up, with each threat they encounter leading the nameless duo to an even larger and more problematic one. It starts off simply enough with a werewolf but snowballs from there to an assassin, goblins, zombies, demon lords and more. It certainly does a good job with the fast pacing and the roller coaster ride feeling but the humor often fell flat for me. There are some genuinely funny and amusing moments, ranging from surprisingly descriptive sound effects such as “imminent violence” to the violent antics of the dwarf, but a lot of times the book doesn’t seem to know when to stop. The sound effects are a good example of this. At first it’s cute and funny, but by the end of the book it’s just getting tired and annoying. Likewise a good chunk of the humor is just so over the top and wacky that it detracts from the action and adventure portion of the book. The dwarf’s possessed leg was a good example of something that left me rolling my eyes rather than rolling with laughter. Oddly enough, I felt the humor in the two original short stories included at the back of the book worked much better than much of the humor in the ongoing itself. It was a bit more subdued, had a nice dark edge to it and felt a bit more clever than a vomiting dwarf.
The artwork didn’t really work for me. It’s got a stripped down cartoony feel that does work well with the silly bits, but since I didn’t really like the sillier moments it’s probably no surprise that I wasn’t keen on an art style that plays that material up. That said, Huang’s action scenes are energetic and fun and he does a very good at conveying motion and impact during the battles. Likewise his character designs are simple but distinct with a wide variety of body types and facial shapes on display, something that’s often overlooked in both American and Japanese comics. The original two short stories that are included feature art from Chris Stevens. Stevens’ artwork is much more detailed and rendered than Huang’s, and I think the detail leant itself wonderfully to the fantasy setting and helped give the action and the violence a nice bite that clicked with the slightly darker humor.
Skullkickers is an odd bird. While the main story was ok with more misses than hits for me humor wise, the original back up stories where fantastic and I think they were closer to what I was hoping for and what I was expecting from the series. The over the top humor keeps me from falling in love with the series, but there is a part of me that’s vaguely curious to see what will happen next. I doubt I’ll pick up the single issues, but if the second volume comes out at the same low price I’ll probably give it another look.
Skullkickers vol. 1: 1000 Opas and a Dead Body is available now from Image Comics.