Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Review: Skullkickers Volume 1 1000 Opas and a Dead Body

Skullkickers Volume 1 1000 Opas and a Dead Body is a fantasy action-comedy book published by Image and written by Jim Zub with art by Chris Stevens and Edwin Huang. It has a bit Tolkien and a bit  D&D in it, mixed with a good chunk of action and a lots of humor. Shake everything and you'll have a light, fun, action packed story that embraces many fantasy cliches and gives them new, and often humorous, twists.

Shorty and Baldy are the Skullkickers. Shorty is a foulmouthed,  short-tempered, ax wielder, red-headed dwarf. Baldy is a calm(er), hulking like, pistol shooting, bald man. Together they steal, kill, maim, protect and any other job that will get them paid.

How is it?

Virgin Sacrifice?
1000 Opas and a Dead Body starts with the assassination of a Chancellor. Shorty and Baldy get themselves hired to retrieve his body from the authorities and return him to the Chancellor's entourage. Of course it goes horribly wrong and they find themselves in the middle of a deranged Necromancer's quest for power. Zombies, Elves, Demons, poisoned stew, bar fights and much more wait the Skullkickers.

At first this seemed like a generic fantasy book. A dwarf and a big man go around doing whatever they can to get money, but it doesn't take long for the identity of Skullkickers to gain form and substance.

I loved the way the book doesn't take itself too seriously and embraces some of the usual cliches of fantasy storytelling and twists them around in unexpected ways. Small details like the Baldy, a big strong man, being the brains of the operation and using a small and underwhelming looking pistol, fat werewolves, their generally unheroic behavior, among many others, made this book a very entertaining read.

Shorty and Baldy jump into action
This volume also collects the 2 Skullkicker stories from Popgun Volumes 2 and 3. These stories take place before 1000 Opas and a Dead Body and its more of a draft for Skullkickers than an early story.

The art style fits the mood of the book like a glove. Chris Evens and Edwin Huang do a great job bringing Jim Zub's plot to life. The character designs are very good. Shorty, while great to look at, is not that original. He basically looks like Gimli from Lord of the Rings but in different armor. Baldy is a different story. He might have a simpler and more streamlined look, but it works very well. The panel dynamics is great and so is the coloring with its bright colors and distinct pallets for the different settings in the story.

Fat Werewolf
Just two small details I enjoy thoroughly. One are the sound effects. Not only you get the more usual Boom, Swash and alike, but also stuff like Dash, Powerful Slap, Incoming Death can be found throughout the book.I couldn't help it but to imagine a D&D Dungeon Master narrating the fight.The other is the way the dialogue that a prisoner of the Skullkickers has from the moment he is captured to the end of the book. While what he says is funny, what I liked is the fact that he had most his mouth shoot off, so he can't speak, just mumble. The way they handle it is very cool.


I came into this book with relatively low expectations and got blown away by how much I enjoyed it. At first its only an ok book, but soon it finds it voice and becomes a very fun and entertaining read.

If you like fantasy stories, with dwarfs, elves, sorcery, taverns fights and alike then you definitely should read this book. Even if you're not big on fantasy but just want to read a good and entertaining comic book, then give it a try.

Publisher: Image Comics
Year: 2011
Pages: 144
Authors: Jim Zub, Edwin Huang, Chris Stevens

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  1. I think I am sold on this by the "incoming death"-sound effect alone, that's hilarious. And a comic inspired by RPGs, what's not to like?

    1. Hi Jebediah,

      The sound effects are, for the most part, very funny and add something to the reading experience.