Skybound X #1 is an oversized anthology issue that brings beloved past and present Skybound characters to life with four haunting and funny stories.
Skybound is known for producing comics that push the envelope with zany writing and even zanier art. In honor of Skybound’s tenth anniversary, the publisher is dropping Skybound X, a five-issue, weekly anthology series filled with characters from Skybound’s past, present and future. Skybound X #1 contains four stories — The Walking Dead spinoff “Rick Grimes 2000,” Clementine’s comic debut (Telltale’s The Walking Dead) ahead of her upcoming graphic novel launch, the Ultramega-inspired story “The True Story of Ultramega” and “Fezron Fezroff!” a wacky and violent chapter in Manifest Destiny. Skybound X #1 sees its heroes pitted against weirdness and wanton cruelty while delivering plenty of humor.
Chapter One of “Rick Grimes 2000” is written by The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and drawn by Ryan Ottley. The story shows Rick Grimes and other TWD characters cast as futuristic heroes pitted against zombies and an alien invasion. It’s so gratuitous that even tough guy Grimes is taken aback. While gratuitous violence is to be expected in The Walking Dead Universe, sometimes the story’s brutality works against the story’s seriousness. Its sudden, gory deaths and its characters’ tears-gushing responses to their losses come across as stupefying, not tragic. The exaggerated facial expressions throughout do fit the over-the-top tone of this reimagining; although, it too can veer into being ridiculous.
However, “Clementine Lives!” stays true to the original somber tone of The Walking Dead franchise. Serving as Clementine’s official debut into the world of comics, artist and writer Tillie Walden chooses a palette of monochromatic grey tones against gentle and purposefully shaky linework. The quiet, heartwarming story serves as Clementine’s farewell to her surrogate younger brother AJ. Walden’s moody work showcases Clementine’s angst, her tragic past and teases what’s to come in the characters’ future in the Skybound family.
“Fezron Fezoff,” written by veteran television writer Chris Dingess and backed by artist Matthew Roberts and letterer Pat Brosseau, stands out in the anthology for its goofy aesthetic and wacky tone. In the story, the heroic but incompetent bird Dawhogg is sent to recover the stolen eggs of the royal family. While the writing in “Fezron Fezoff” is tons of fun — balancing an upbeat and violent tone — it’s Roberts’ raw art that’s the highlight. Roberts channels the cartoony yet gruesome aesthetic of early 90s-era Ren & Stimpy. Collectively, the story is vulgar — as animals get beaten into a bloody pulp — but feels effectively campy and grotesque.
However, the anthology’s standout story is “The True Story of Ultramega.” Written and drawn by James Harren with colors by Dave Stewart, the Ultramega tale stands out for its organic and painterly textures. The line art is rough and its colors have a distinctly gritty and crayon-like consistency. This linework pairs well with Stewart’s cool color palette of purples, greens and coral tones. It helps that the premise of Ultramega — involving a plague that turns people into Kaiju monsters that fight each other and level cities — is equal parts dramatic as it is action-packed. It’s an imaginative take on the admittedly stale plague-apocalypse genre.
Overall, Skybound X #1 is good, gory and unfocused fun. While this anthology is plagued with jarring tonal dissonance, it is a worthy sample of what Skybound and its many creative artists and writers have to offer and a great way to celebrate its past ten years of action and humor.
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