Skullkickers finally returns after a 4-month hiatus with a new story arc that promises to shed some light on the mysterious origins of our favorite mercenaries. Skullkickers #13 is the jumping on point for this new storyline and it dedicates itself to establishing a solid foundation for the rest of the saga. The trademark violence of Skullkickers is largely absent from this issue. Yet Skullkickers #13 gives readers something much more gratifying than blood and guts.
The most powerful moments in comics occur once we, as readers, realize that our heroes are vulnerable. The moment that Batman emerges from the rubble with Jason Todd’s body is so iconic for this reason. For the first time, we are shown that maybe the men and women in our comics are not without fear and loss. For 12 issues Skullkickers has thrown the mercenary duo in front of nearly every kind of monster, ghoul, and goblin with nary a scratch. Issue 13 is one of the first times that writer Jim Zubkavich paints one of his characters as a less than invincible super man.
On the run from the law, both Skullkickers board a ship, only to find themselves at the end of some very dangerous swords. After being rescued by an unlikely source, the two are allowed passage only through the promise of labor, that is told through the comic equivalent of a musical montage. Over time it is revealed that Baldy (the bald one) possesses a special gift — which was hinted at in earlier issues — that allows him to hear animals’ thoughts. Furthermore, it is revealed that Baldy is not bald by choice and that he is self conscious about it. It is in these moments that Zubkavich begins to peel back the layers of Baldy’s character. The final moments of Skullkickers #13 are clear indicators, that from here on out, this storyline is going to be pure adrenaline pumping insanity.
The art team behind Skullkickers #13, per usual, brings the best possible in classic comic style. Artist Edwin Huang understands that when working with a stylized theme, exaggerated illustration still need to adhere to some rules. One “˜fight’ scene in particular showcases Huang’s skill when choreographing a brawl. Colorist Misty Coats has also developed a color scheme for a visually appealing comic. If you stop for a moment to admire the color theory in this comic, you will notice that no splash of blue is without orange or green with yellow. Every color in this comic is in harmony with the next.
Maybe going on about the vulnerability found in this issue might be reading into things too much. After all the focus of this comic to date has been to see how much blood two morally gray mercenaries can spill. However, I think Zubkavich knows that to craft any great character, the audience must sympathize with them first. Skullkickers #13 is the first step in building that sense of compassion, which means big and world shattering events are just around the corner.