Five Funerals and a Bucket of Blood, Part 1
Story by Jim Zub
Art by Edwin Huang, Misty Coates
Cover by Chris Stevens
Variant cover by Steven Cummings and Espen Grundetjern
Street Date: May 25, 2011
How could you not love a comic book with a name like Skullkickers? It does bring up images of thick, steel-toed boots bashing in brains, splattering them onto the pavement, doesn’t it?
Well, if that’s what you’re expecting, it’s not what you’re going to get.
Skullkickers is a fantasy series, obviously heavily influenced visually and creatively by World of Warcraft and the Final Fantasy video game series. The story revolves around a pair of monster hunters: an alcoholic dwarf with an axe and a stoic bald warrior with a revolver. In the first six issues, the good Skullkickers are forced to travel from the village of Mudwich to do battle with necromancers, demons, living corpses, and giant primordial demon lords. As Five Funerals and a Bucket of Blood Part 1 opens in Skullkickers #7, the Skullkickers return to Mudwich celebrated heroes only to become wanted fugitives, embroiled in an assassination plot against the city’s nobility by a pointy-eared elfin killer and a pair of murderous fairies.
At first blush, Skullkickers is not the most original comic book to ever delve into the fantasy world. With stock characters and relationship dynamics that feel done to death, it can be hard to convince yourself to keep reading after the first few pages. However, as a guy with an ambivalence to downright hostile attitude towards traditional sword-and-sorcery, I forced myself to keep reading and I’m glad that I did.
What Skullkickers lacks in an original concept it more than makes up for with cartoony slapstick and a bizarrely violent sensibility. The series doesn’t take itself seriously on any level whatsoever, and while the use of humor in fantasy often comes across as corny, the writing in Skullkickers is witty enough to almost qualify the series as a satire on the fantasy genre itself. One particularly brutal and hilarious sequence sees our heroes trying to save a banquet from a pair of attacking fairies, only to savagely massacre everyone in the room in the process. The scene is so simultaneously bloody and cartoonish that you can’t help but enjoy how utterly ridiculous it is.
While clearly very funny, Skullkickers still has to overcome issues of characterization and originality that will continue to relegate it a short-lived series. If it wants to make the leap from a good genre comic to a great genre comic, it will need to do more to hook in readers
Rating: 2.5 out 5 Orc Heads On Pikes
Story by Ron Marz
Art by Lee Moder, Matthew Waite, Michael Ayiteh
Skullkickers #7 also features a 6-page preview of Shinku, where a motorcycle-riding, samurai sword-wielding chick saves some poor schmuck from a sexy topless vampire and drags him into the world of the superzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦ OH WHOA, wow sorry. I fell asleep describing the comic book.
Swords, vampires, hot chicks, blah blah blah blah. Shinku is a concept so incredibly unoriginal it could have been generated by an iPhone app. So I’m turning this review in a public service announcement to every independent comic book publisher: You will never build a fan base by reproducing the same thing that everyone else has done. If a writer pitches anything to you with any combination of “˜vampire, sword, women’ in it, feed it into the shredder.
Rating: 0.5 out of 5 Template Comics