cover image Skull Kickers Treasure Trove, Vol. 1

Skull Kickers Treasure Trove, Vol. 1

Jim Zubkavich and Edwin Huang. Image (Diamond, dist.), $34.99 (300p) ISBN 978-1-60706-374-2

Fantasy series are too often burdened with the goal of world-building, causing a struggle between characters and the land they inhabit. This might entice fans of the genre, but it’s not so inviting to a casual audience. Zubkavich remedies this by letting his world just be, allowing his characters to burst from the pages and dictate the action and setting. His two cartoonish, crass mercenaries—a feisty, red-headed Scottish dwarf and a calm, bald, tall guy—take a seat-of-your-pants roller coaster ride that grabs everything in its path, grinds it up, and flings it aside with a fury. Whether facing law enforcement, death cultists, demons, or evil fairies, the result is always the same—bombastic chaos. Laugh out loud humor comes from character quips and tangents, as well as the grotesque and the absurd—tall guy wields an anachronistic and unexplained hand gun that’s the source of many laughs—incorporated into Huang’s well-executed action sequences. It’s like a sword and sorcery buddy movie channeling Milk and Cheese. This lavish edition collects the first 11 issues of the comic with previous short stories featuring the mercenaries, and an activity section with puzzles and other delights—paper doll fans, take note. (Apr.)