Monday, October 25, 2010

Skull Kickers #1 - Guest Review by Simon Breeze

This first issue of Skull Kickers is really fun. It follows two mercenaries, who remain nameless throughout the issue, and their adventures in a fantasy realm. We join them "James Bond" style at the end of their last adventure, fighting a pudgy werewolf and his cult followers.

Chubby werewolf and cult dispatched, we are then introduced to the pairs next adventure starting in the amusingly titled, Gizzard Inn. It is here that we discover that as helpful as our heroes are, their help is not wanted by the town and it would be best all round if they would just leave.

Before our two unlikely heroes can decide what to do, they are interrupted by the visit and untimely death of the Chancellor at the hands of a mysterious assassin who they confront and after a bit of a skirmish, escapes them.

The day passes and the circumstances surrounding the Chancellors death become more and more suspicious, thus leading to his aid hiring our two mercenary heroes to help him recover the Chancellors body from the town who are suspiciously holding it, 'pending further investigation'.

During our heroes twilight liberation attempt of the Chancellors body, they encounter a band of mysterious men who are stealing dead bodies too, and just to confuse matters further, the are being lead by a huge hulking mutant...

...To be continued!.

As I stated at the start, I found Skull Kickers a really fun read. The two unnamed characters who are the stories heroes are very likable and need little introduction. One is a huge 'gun slinging' human, the other a very angry red haired, axe twirling dwarf. The relationship between the two is believable and leads to some nice one liners and 'slap-stick' moments. For example, when they need to get to the Chancellors assassin who is hiding at the top of a high watch tower quickly, the large human tosses the smaller dwarf like a sack of potatoes up the side of the tower. Another example of this is when they kill the porky werewolf with a silver tea spoon, as only silver can kill a werewolf!

Jim Zubkavich's story is very good, it is such an easy read, you could easily miss just how much is going on within it. Woven within the main part of the story arc are lots of subtle threads to watch out for, some are casual throw-away lines, some are a bit more obvious. Some examples of this is the fact that the arrow used to kill the Chancellor was poisoned, as if being shot through the eye wasn't enough. The bodies thieves in the cliff-hanger ending which seem to have no relevance to the story, or even the mysterious assassin, who is there one panel and forgotten the next. All very intriguing stuff, leading you to believe there is a lot more going on than first meets the eye.

Chris Stevens and Edwin Huang's art is nice and 'chunky' and fits the story telling well, and coupled with Misty Coats's crisp and cell styled colouring, it gives the comic (in a good way) an almost 'animated' feel (a bit like watching a cool cartoon).

Overall a very good, fast paced and fun packed fantasy adventure, with lots of potential looking forward. If it has one negative, it would be that the fantasy world and characters you encounter are very 'of the genre' and in this issue they pull very few surprises. However, that is not such a bad thing as it is what you would most likely expect from a new fantasy comic title. This also gives the writer the space to focus in the first issue on the story, as you already know what to expect from a generic fantasy realm and its inhabitants.

I'm going to give this a 4 out of 5, it's good and it's got the potential to be really good. Plus it has an awesome title too!

Skull Kickers #1
One Thousand Opas and a Dead Body - Part One
Story by Jim Zubkavich, cover by Chris Stevens, pencils by Chris Stevens & Edwin Huang, inks by Edwin Huang, colours by Misty Coats and letters by Marshall Dillon
Published by Image Comics, $2.99

As always, my sincere thanks to Simon for taking time to review another book for us. Like Simon I also read and enjoyed this first issue of Skull Kickers - in many ways the relationship between the two central characters reminded me of the relationship between Asterix and his dear friend Obelix from the charming The Adventures of Asterix tales.

Don't forget you can find out more about Simon Breeze's work by visiting his
blog or catching him in person in a couple of weeks time at Bristol-CON10.