Uncanny Skullkickers #1

"Uncanny Skullkickers" #1 begins a new adventure for Kusia and Rex as Jim Zub and Edwin Huang strand them on a deserted island to see how they fare in being like Robinson Crusoe, with some predictably amusing shenanigans as the result.

In the first two pages, Zub gives readers a compressed summary of previous events in "Skullkickers" to bring new readers up to date. Renumbering "Skullkickers" and tacking on an "Uncanny" is equal parts gimmick and joke about the gimmick, but Zub takes it seriously enough to know that this may be the first issue of "Skullkickers" that a reader has ever picked up. As for the word "uncanny," there is nothing in the plot of "Uncanny Skullkickers" #1 that makes the adjective relevant, which I suppose is part of the point. "Uncanny Skullkickers" has more in common with "Survivor" than "Uncanny Avengers," "Uncanny X-Force" or "Uncanny X-Men."

One of the recurring delights of "Skullkickers" is Zub's approach to sound effects. Instead of the usual onomatopoeia words, Zub prefers descriptive phrases like "meat drag" or "ominous rumble!" The small visual jokes are also excellent, like how a crab hangs off the cuff of Rex's ragged shirt when he stands up. Also, Zub and Huang have an ongoing gag in "Uncanny Skullkickers" #1. At bottom of each page, there is a thin horizontal panel updating readers on the status Rex's dwarf friend who is swimming with the fishes, as they say, with a tidy punchline at the end.

Kusia's talking ruby sword is also a nice recent addition to the cast by Zub and Huang, and its helpful little poems or songs for Kusia make it the equivalent of a supporting pet or sidekick character, both annoying and hilarious because it's annoying.

There's also a bonus feature at the back, where Zub shows the reader a portion of the script for "Uncanny Skullkickers" #1, with explanatory notes added. Zub's blog has always been a great resource for the aspiring writer or curious fan, and his script and notes are encouraging, clear and funny.

The final page of "Uncanny Skullkickers" #1 heralds a new bizarre new island menace that feels like something out of "Axe Cop." What thids ending lacks in suspense, it makes up in deadpan bizarreness.

The plot and characters of "Uncanny Skullkickers" #1 serve up a nice portion of Zub and Huang's lighthearted but sharp digs at a mix of jungle survival and epic fantasy tropes, as well as indulging deeply in those same enjoyable tropes to advance the story. It's a lot of fun, and it's great to see Zub and Huang's fantasy and parody title still kicking with energy and ideas.

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