Thursday, June 21, 2012
Skullkickers Vol 1: 1000 Opas and a Dead Body
Artists: Edwin Haung & Chris Stevens
Company: Image Comics
Call me late to the party with this one. Part of that has to do with the tons and tons of comics that come out every week that seem to pile up on each other. Another part of it was that I never heard what the story in Skullkickers was actually about. No one came out and said, "Hey, this is Dungeons & Dragons distilled in a Hyperdrive and served with a chilled dose of sarcasm." If someone had done that, I don't think I'd be coming late to the game. Still, I'm glad that I came. From the foreword written by popular games designer Robin Laws, who does a solid job of summing up role-playing games and the themes that this book tackles, to the book's ability to cut through all of the bullshit and start with the words, "Who ever
heard of a fat werewolf?" I knew a good time was in store.
This line quickly speaks to the first selling point of Skullkickers: The Humor. The humor is on the front lines and really does ring true in almost every instance that it appears. This is mainly due to the fact that it's actually funny instead of just bland humor that you've heard a dozen or so times before. Imagine Army of Darkness by way of Willow and you've got a good idea of what to expect from this. If you've ever played any role-playing game or have used a D20 in your life, then you'll get a ton of the jokes that occur here, but such an experience isn't necessary, it merely enhances the contents. The jokes are still funny. That's due entirely to the excellent script that Jim Zub, who helms the new Pathfinder comic that is soon to hit shelves, has concocted.
As for a second selling point, that would be the action. While the story of The Dwarf and The Big Guy (the actual names of our two main characters) might be a little light in the character department, it is filled to the brim with action. Demonic swarms, zombies, necromancers, thiefs...You name it and they'll kill it. Well, for a price that is. These two guys, armed with their strength, blades, a few wisecracks, and a gun (Steampunk in appearance), are the ultimate adventurers. They love beer and treasure equally and while they might not know it or not, as they strive to retrieve the dead body of a beloved (and snooty) royal that was passing through and got killed in the town that they happened to be calling home, they are being dragged deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole.
For $9.99, this trade is a steal. Especially when you consider the character sketches and the added short stories that are thrown in at the end. The story titled Gotcha! is probably one of the strongest three page stories that I've seen. It's hilarity is only rivaled by the super strong artwork by Chris Stevens. His take is decidedly different from Huang, much more realistic and traditional sword and sorcery, but I don't know if I can call it better. All in all, Skullkickers had me guffawing and instilled in me a need to sit down with some friends and beat the ever-loving snot out of some Gnolls.