Uncanny Skullkickers #1 Review
By: Rob Neil Gruszecki
Adventure, magic, drinking, hunting, elves, pirates, dead dwarves, more drinking, giants, a really enormous gun, axes, turtles, did I mention just how big that gun was? Cuz its pretty big, discovery, mystery, talking swords, jungles, montages and a whole pile of feet meeting faces. Flying dropkicks to the head! Violent uses of extremities as weapons! Twenty-two pages of adjective adorned Skullkicking! In fact one might find these particular Skullkickers… Indestructible… no… Superior… no… Invincible… NO…
Rex and Kusia have been on many an exciting adventure before but never have they been on an island about to fight an onslaught of apes, and not just any kind of apes, not the kind that would wear a foolish red tie and fling barrels at you, not the intellectual kind who would advise a thick Tarzan parody and eventually be voiced by John Cleese and certainly not the type you would see climbing an empire state building and swatting at air planes like a real dick. No, These apes have big horns… On their heads… yeah.
The new Uncanny Skullkickers issue one by Jim Zub is a new jumping on point in the series but also another installment in a line of books being published by Image comics since 2010. With a few pages laying out where we are in the series to throw you into the fantasy chaos this newest volume is easy enough to pick up and enjoy. Smoothly catching you up with who the characters are and why they carry such heavy artillery is achieved successfully and will give you just enough on our heroes Rex and Kusia that you’ll be compelled to seek out their tales from volumes before. Obviously instances where reveals are delivered that ultimately lose their full effect on new readers occur but that’s to be expected on a series over two years into its publication and honestly the context is clear enough that it isn’t confusing or jarring instead just acts as a teaser for what we missed out on over the past few years.
Jim Zub’s script work is a fun blend of role playing madness and Penny Arcade sense of humour. Each page another tongue and cheek delivery and goofball shenanigan keeping the pacing fresh and funny while also telling simply a great action story. While the two treasure hunting warriors traverse their new found landscape in search of something to do, craziness and a new path towards glory, battle and drama opens up in front of them. After the hilarious misadventures of the two swashbuckling mavericks, Zub treats us to an inside look at the script work of a professional comic creator which is a cool incentive as well as being a really interesting read.
Uncanny Skullkickers ‘first issue again’ features an intense and thrilling backup story read along the bottom of each page that will have you sweating the outcome with each turn. Think the tragic ‘Monster at the end of this book’ by Sesame Street alumnus Grover. The suspense is excruciating as we watch a SPOILER dwarf… In the water…
Edwin Huang pencils the Skullkickers in this issue and his style is a perfect match for the tone in the comic, reading like a game of Munchkin or an animated episode of the online avatars of the Guild, the colours are bright and pop while the character designs are smooth and beautifully animated. As the two mercenaries trudge along on their clueless quest towards victory they are met with awesome villains and encounter some of my favourite SFX words in comics, placed strategically dropping jokes like pipe bombs. Layout and structure are an important feature in a comedy book especially one that actually has this type of comic beat and timing and Huang’s pencils pull it off very nicely.
The newest number one from Jim Zub and Edwin Huang is definitely filled with enough zany antics and wacky fun to attract anyone looking for a unique and funny comedy to read on Wednesdays.
*Don’t skip to the last page and ruin the ending of the epic tale of the dwarf in the water that is equal parts Ben Hur, Citizen Kane and M. Night Shyamalan.
Rob Gruszecki is a writer, musician and Wednesday warrior
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Read more of his comic reviews (Dear, Ghost Factory. What Should I Read?) or listen to the Comics Round-up weekly Podcast both found at www.flashfact.org