SKULLKICKERS Vol. 1: 1000 Opas and a Dead Body by Jim Zub (author) & Chris Stevens (artist)
No one knows the names of these two monster slayers for hire. One is a dwarf who wields two short battle-axes and the other a big bald brute that carries an almost unknown weapon: a pistol. For the right price, this pair will do any killings you require. They can out-fight, out-drink, and usually out-smart most anything — man, beast, or creature. They are the SKULLKICKERS. How can anyone not dig a title like that?
Sword & sorcery fans take heart. SKULLKICKERS, by Image Comics, follows the tradition of Robert E. Howard’s tales and Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser, although with a more ribald tone. These brash, hardened killers — referred to only as “Shorty” and “Baldy” — are in many ways the classic brains-n-brawn, straight man/funny man, action-adventure duo. However, in their case, it’s the big, muscle-bound guy who’s the serious strategist, while the crazy dwarf is the overaggressive braggart — of course it’s not really bragging because he backs up what he says — that is always ready to kick ass. The Skullkickers cleverly tackle every job with confidence and in their own unique style. However, not much can be said for their social skills, because they have none. There is no better way to put it: SKULLKICKERS is just ol’ fashioned fun.
Life for the SKULLKICKERS is a never-ending jump out of the frying pan and into the fire with the occasional break for drunken debauchery in their favorite saloon, The Gizzard. They take on any job, regardless of danger, with a confidence that the reader is never quite sure if it’s due to an abundance of skill or lack of knowledge. More often than not, they have a harder time collecting their pay than they do defeating the monsters.
Jim Zub writes SKULLKICKERS with tongue-in-cheek humor that suits these comics perfectly. The strictly mercenary attitudes of “Shorty” and “Baldy” are balanced out with their ridiculous antics. ( I should also mention that the elves are freakin’ hilarious. )
Chris Stevens is a talented artist, but for some reason his style changed after the preview issue SKULLKICKERS #0. Between the coloring and the detailed drawing, #0 was more vivid. In the other issues, Stevens’ art has more of a cartoon-like look; this does go along with the stories, but my preference was for the original look.
SKULLKICKERS is an awesome take on the old school sword & sorcery tales. Since the 70’s, with the exception of Conan, there just hasn’t been much S&S in comics. It warms this fanboy’s heart to finally see it making a comeback with series like these.