For those that have been following Skullkickers from the beginning you’ll be familiar with the “Tavern Tales” style of stories. For those that aren’t familiar (like I wasn’t) then I’ll explain. It’s a special issue in which creator Jim Zub opens the series up for both writers and artists to jump on the title and tell “what if” type stories. Now the way that Zub has worked these stories into the continuity is actually quite clever as we’ve recently seen some of the results of that in the last story arc. Well Zub says in the beginning that the series is drawing to a close and he thought there was no time better than now to jump into more “Tavern Tales.” There are four stories so I’ll probably only tell you about one since they’re all quick reads and full of fun moments and great art.
The first story “Shaolin Skull Battle” finds our hero Rex as a Buddhist monk by the name of Li-Shi and our drunken dwarf Rolf is known as Lou-Ku. Lou-Ku attempts to interrupt Li-Shi’s meditation, but ends up finding himself heading towards the very water he was looking to sink Li-Shi in. To teach him a lesson Li-Shi forces Lou-Ku to face his own demon and suddenly a monster springs up from the peaceful pond. This story is all about the ending. While it’s a nice tale, it’s the ending that really reminds you that these characters really are versions of Rex and Rolf.
The writing tends to be more on the comical side for all four stories. This is for the best as a serious tale would feel out-of-place with the other stories. That and I’m pretty sure the next and final story arc is going to have some pretty serious moments so it’s better to just be funny and entertaining here.
Both of the guest artists have a wonderful style. They each fit their own stories and it’s impressive the talent pool that Zub has access to. Why both of them aren’t working on a monthly series or at least pinging my radar more is beyond me, but I’ll definitely look forward to seeing their names going forward. Both artists tackle two stories and both manage to switch their styles up for the different genres of stories.
I’ll admit that I was expecting the kickoff of the next storyline, but given the fact that it looks to be the last for Skullkickers I’ll take this break in the story and enjoy one of the staples of the series… its humor. It’s a damn shame that we’ll soon be losing a funny book since there are so few on the market, but we have some time and I can only hope that Zub and company are going to deliver in a big way.
Writers: Jim Zub & Will Hindermarch Artists: Jeff Cruz & Royce Southerland Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 8/13/14 Format: Print/Digital