(Monekybrain Comics, 2013)
Reviewed by Jared Butler
Writer: Michael Moreci
Artwork: Drew Zucker
Lettering: Frank J. Barbiere
I think most people by now have seen and/or read their fair share of westerns and are familiar with the usual cast of characters to be found in them. “Skybreaker” is no exception – you’ve got the Anti-Hero: in search of revenge and has nothing left to lose. The villain: a highly intelligent and manipulative gang leader, armed with the Word of God and a pack of half-witted henchmen. Throw in a few side characters (who will undoubtedly have an impact on the main plot at some point) and you can call it ‘soup’.
Fortunately, this story doesn’t waste time explaining why these very familiar types of characters are the way they are or how they got where they are today. Instead we are dropped right in the middle of this tale with only a few hints of back-story to touch on later. We do get a couple of inner monologues, mainly from our protagonist Skybreaker, who is a quiet and tactfully observant man with a scar across his face and many more in his heart. Here we learn that his Father was a preacher and had a great affect on his sense of morality and fate, as well as his vocabulary. Of course, none of that is stopping him from killing or maiming those who stand in his way, but his Father’s teachings help ensure he is stricken with the guilt of each death he has caused. Skybreaker is cursed with the great skill of killing, yet longs for his own death – while also believing it is not his place to say how or when he goes out. So he keeps to the path he is destined to follow.
In this first issue, we are introduced to Skybreaker and shown just how hard it is to kill him. We also get a grip on his back story. We also get to spend a little time with the villainous Cutter: King of Thieves, who was hired by some townsfolk to protect them from the ever-threatening ‘savages’. We also get to peek in on some of those side characters I mentioned earlier.
Writer Michael Moreci does a great job of throwing us head first into this story without giving the feeling that we had missed any pages. With only a few questionable lines here and there the dialogue is otherwise solid, and I am so thankful the Native Americans speak in a way that is not some cheesy cartoon-like stereotype.
At first I was interested by the old school, almost Manga-like style of the art – but that was soon thrown off by the inconsistencies in proportions between people and things from panel to panel. On one page in particular, Skybreaker is holding a rifle which appears to have a decent length barrel on it – yet in the next panel it looks more like a sawed off shotgun. I also found the digital shading very distracting and disjointed, mostly due to the use of patterns that seems to pop out at you and beg for attention. I did like the use of the white specks littered across some of the heavy black shadows, recreating flaws that would have been left by an old style printing press and thereby giving the comic an ‘olden days’ feel.
Lastly I must say that I expected to find a certain amount of gore in this comic, it being a modern Indie western and all. With that said, the only really gory moment is found near the end of the issue (and an eyeball gag at that), but it just felt forced and somewhat out of place in what the title had set up previous to this point.
So far this story doesn’t seem to be anything incredibly new but that’s not always a bad thing. A lot of creative juice can flow through familiar set-ups. If the characters stay solid and the story consistently remains interesting, I will be more than happy to look past my slight problems with the art and continue reading “Skybreaker” as the new issues are released. And, once again Monkeybrain Comics kicks it into gear with their 99 cents an issue cover price. Go check it out!
‘Skybreaker’ Issue #1 can be purchased here: http://www.comixology.com/Skybreaker-1/digital-comic/DIG003255?app=1
Follow J.G. Butler on Twitter: @Floor0272