Fantasy as a genre has been around for a long time. The tropes and stereotypes used in story telling have been seen time and time again, and with the rising popularity of things like The Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons it would seem we’re going to continue seeing it. That’s where Skull Kickers comes in. Warning: there are slight spoilers ahead for those who haven’t read the previous Skull Kickers issues, namely the ones before issue 25. I shall try to avoid spoilers from anything in the current arc.
Skull Kickers is a comic series that takes the tropes and clichés of the fantasy genre and messes with them. Sometimes they’re played straight, but are mocked relentlessly. Other times they’re subverted or twisted around in clever ways. It’s all done relatively lovingly, though; after all, this is still a fantasy story about a dwarf, Rolf and his human companion, Rex. At least, it starts off that way. See, over the course of the whole series, Rolf and Rex meet an elf, and later they meet Rolf and Rex. That is to say, they run into another version of themselves. And then things get weird. Humor is a key element to Skull Kickers; everything’s meant to parody something that is common in these types of stories. The narration bubbles talk directly to the reader (and sometimes to each other), they mess with timelines, there are stereotypes about the different races abound, and all sorts of things that have become all too common, and are all played for laughs here. It’s a comic where everything goes and nothing is held sacred when it comes to the elements of fantasy story telling. This is exceedingly true in this issue, which is part four of the newest arc of Skull Kickers.
The newest issue of Skull Kickers finds the heroes arriving a bit too late to keep (Dead) Rolf from being purified by the stone, having been called an imposter by what seems to be yet another Rolf. After going through flashbacks of Dead Rolf’s life (plus a bit of Dwarven history thrown in for good measure), it finally cumulates into current events. Meanwhile, the rest of the gang finds themselves face to face with a bigger threat: glacier giants.
Skull Kickers is a fun read. It’s humorous, action packed, and just generally a great time. I’d recommend picking up from at least issue 25, if you want to be caught up on the story without going back and reading from the beginning.