Monday, January 27, 2014

Skull Kickers


Over on Comixology, the Image fantasy comic series Skull Kickers is on sale. What is Skull Kickers? From the site, "In Skullkickers, two hard-headed mercenaries kill monsters and cause havoc in their search for money, fame and adventure. Along the way, they'll gore goblins, smash skeletons, punch plant people and whomp werewolves. This gorgeous oversized edition, loaded with extras and rarities, follows the SKULLKICKERS through the first 12 issues of their cult hit comic series. MTV Geek names SKULLKICKERS one of their Top 10 'Best Series of 2011', Ain't It Cool News raves that 'Everyone who loves comics should buy SKULLKICKERS' and Bleeding Cool calls SKULLKICKERS 'the next CHEW.'"

I admit to being unhip with comics these days. My capacity to physically own comics is way down and I don't buy many, with the exception of say Usagi Yojimbo in trades and a few others, and rely on digital media like Comixology and Dark Horse to buy graphic novels and individual issues when they go on sale.

But Twitter was pepped about it including the artist/author of IAMARG, a webcomic I enjoy (which is running its own Kickstarter at this moment).

So I plunked down the funds for the two collected editions.

Well worth the money.

The art is fairly nice, lots of bright colors in the palette there making it remind me of Battle Chasers for some reason.

Storylines aren't bad and are quick reads for the most part following the dreaded pattern of meant for collection but broken up with some 'tavern tales' where there are multiple short stories between the longer arcs. As a comic, its a lot of fun.

The author also has some fun with it. The last few issues are all number ones and all spoofs of well loved covers and they are funny as all out. Its good to see a medium where the author 'gorks' it so to speak.

I was going to post about the Warded Man by Peter V Brett but as Skull Kickers is still on sale, though I'd point this one out first.

Heck, in terms of Appendix N, in one issue the writer talks about his enjoyment of Dungeons and Dragons and how he liked to be the guy who made everyone else around the table laugh and have a good time.

But below will be some specifics from the book and spoilers will be forthcoming so read no further if you would wish to avoid spoilers.

1. Things Don't Always Work as Planned: Early on in the series, the group encounters a necromancer controlling legions of undead with a gem. The two guys think, "Hey, destroy the gem!" and for a second, the undead drop as if their strings were cut. But then they come back stronger then before under no one's control.

2. Funny Works: In a game that is directed at 'funny', allow it to work. In one of the tales in the second volume, an ancient eldrich horror calls forth assistance that comes in the form of a kraken, because you know, they both have tentacles. But the heroes pick up the unconscious eldrich horror and bluff the kraken out in a scene that could have come from family guy so blatantly obvious is it that the horror is not the one doing the actual talking, but it works because its funny. This may require you to give the characters something like hero points or beenies that they can only use to cash in for automatic successes on funny bits.

3. Some villains are incompetent. Along the early travels, the duo encounter a caravan under attack by goblins and come to its aid but only because the goblins were doing what the duo were going to do in the first place. As a reward, the duo take a horse and some provisions. Turns out the people they saved were poisoners but not very good ones. This causes the dwarf to experience a 'bad trip' so to speak which leads to some interesting visions for the dwarf who apparently has something of a naked rampage through the night.

4. Change of Costume: One of the things I enjoy about the series is while the characters are pretty unique in their looks, their 'costumes' change. In the second collected arc for example, they are dressed up as nobles in very fine suits and the big guy gets a wig that looks hilarious. Fitting into place may mean temporarily leaving behind your own weapons and toys, but make sure you look good while you do it.

5. The Frame Job: During that time when dining with nobles, the duo are framed for murder thanks to their own quick reactions against an almost unseen enemy who is busy assassinating the nobles right in front of the duo. When the party thinks things are going to well, set up 'em and knock 'em down.

6. Strange Gifts: While fighting to prevent a city from being devoured by an ancient plant sucks blood, the big bald guy gets the ability to speak with spirits and animals and discovers this with a squirrel who he has a furious argument about which no one else understands. The ability to speak to different species has its uses later on but its initial application, such as when hearing fish taken out of water and suffocating has its draw backs as well.

I could go on and on and perhaps at a later point I'll talk some more about Skull Kickers but while it's on sale, I wanted to point it out.

For those who have the space though and want the hardcovers, oversized editions even that collect numerous graphic novels, you might want to check out Amazon.com where Treasure Trove 1 is $24.08 and prime eligible and Treasure Trove 2 is $22.98 and also prime eligible. If I had the space, that would've been my preference but the digital editions will do for now.