“Skullkickers” as a comic is a strange beast, some zany hybrid between dice play fantasy games, old school arcade games like Golden Axe, and “Northlanders” (just kidding on that last one, not every comic with a character with an axe is like Brian Wood’s Viking Opus). This comic is enjoyable, though different from a lot of what usually stacks the shelves. In their debut, the mercenaries are on the trail of a dead body that led them into a room full of monsters.
The main thing you notice once you finish this issue is there’s a lot of action. Things are constantly happening and those things tend to involve painful smacks, brutal headbutts, men hanging over fires, or goblin attacks. Yet, through it all, we get a strong sense of action and characterization. It’s impressive that not everything is thrown away just for a good face smashing set piece. All moments for small stabs of dialogue to progress the entire series are taken.
The main sell for this series is the two main characters: the tall, bald strong man with a brain and the short dwarf with anger management issues and a blood alcohol reading constantly too high. They might be slightly cliche, and the characterization hasn’t exactly been deep and probing, but you can’t say these characters aren’t fun. These two gruff individuals work well off each other and make each page a delight to read. I’m not here for literature, I’m here for a good time and I’m getting that.
The story here moves us along the journey of our two leads and ends on a great note that will make you want to pick up the third issue. The power of this series, so far, seems to be its ability to rocket along and not leave any pages wasted. Everything is written and drawn with the express desire to interest you and ensure you are enjoying yourself completely. It’s nice to read a comic so concerned with the enjoyment of the book.
The art in this comic seems simple. It’s not photo real or extravagantly cross hatched. It just presents these cartoony characters, and I can see how it might not be for everyone. What is impressive, though, is Huang’s ability to convey action and a sense that this comic is happening right in your hands. The action set pieces, of which there are a few, jump off the page like a kid’s action movie from the 80s. This is goblin gore played for laughs and facial expressions played up just a little bit.
This comic feels like a niche title. I can see how people would go bananas for it, I can see how some would hate it. Then there will be everyone else all sorts of places in between. Me, I don’t mind this comic at all. It’s good value for money and entertainment. If you’ve forgotten, that’s a really good thing. “Skullkickers” reads like a comic for fans by fans. It’s got heart, and blood and juices, but mostly heart. Good fun is definitely welcome in my stack so I hope this title can keep the tempo up.