Skullkickers is a fantasy comedy by Jim Zubkavich starring two nameless merceneries who adventure around murdering whatever ”evil” they can find in hopes for money and fame, that’s the basic gist of the series, a buddy-cop fantasy series starring “Baldy” & “Shorty”.
The art by Edwing Huan, Chris Stevens & Misty Coast is like the art from a Saturday morning cartoon with very bright colors, cute facial expressions (and hilarious reaction faces) and very children fantasy alike from its stout dwarves, muscular men and cuter than cute fairies, who happen to act like human bullets and slit throats in the name of spirits and forests, cute and fun! The basic concept with its art and storytelling is to have this really fun bright colorful cartoony vibe, with a bit of blood now and then, so it’s not quite the most dark fantasy universe out there, but it’s not flowers and sunshine at all, but a comical mixture of the two, the best example would be something like the Warcraft series.
The hardcover collection collects the first eleven issues and tons of extra material, which I’ll get to later on. The main series works as a wonderful introduction to both our nameless heroes and the setting around us. You got the killer fairies I’ve mentioned, mages, necromancers and warlocks and even a fat werewolf. The overall plotline is pretty much surrounding Baldy’s & Shorty’s desire to become filthy rich & famous, and they’re not the most kindest heroes out there, but neither are they truly villainous, but they are the mixture of good and evil to the point it’s truly their charm that makes you want to root for these goofballs to save the day from the great evil, which usually has been caused by their own foolishness. The book also seeds some subplots that will carry on to the next book, so not only are there bigger stories untold, but the charm that Zubkavich provides with these characters is more than enough reason to anticipate for the next volume, after enjoying the hilarity from this one. I’ll also add that this book has a rather clever way of using sound effect text in comics.
The extra content includes these anthology stories that began even before the series was launched, so we see the initial designs which practically remain unchanged, but the tune here is actually much more darker, almost like today’s dark fantasy series like Dragon Age, Game of Thrones or Demon Knights, so it’s a bit fun seeing these loveable heroes suddenly being much nastier and greedier than on the actual ongoing. There are also character designs, crossovers, puzzles and whatnot an unusual extra in this comic book hardcover, but that just simply makes it even a more fun gift to your teenage child/cousin/friend/relative.
Rating: 83/100 – A solid introduction to the genre as there aren’t that many fantasy comics going on, much less comedic ones. I would say however the book maybe gets a bit too tongue-in-cheek? Can the fans truly take all the great hordes of evil that seriously, when we’re supposed to be laughing at it at the same time? I guess what I’m saying is that this is very comedic, but perhaps it was too comedic for me? Did I expect a different comic? All I want to say is I highly recommend this, if you’re a fan of fantasy, you don’t even have to be a fan of fantasy to get into this book, the real charmer are the mercenaries with their simple quest for fame and fortune, what’s not to like?