Skullkickers Vol. 1: 1000 Opas and a Dead Body

Skullkickers Vol. 1Skullkickers: 1000 Opas and a Dead Body
Written by: Jim Zub
Illustrated by: Edwin Huang and Misty Coats
Publisher: Image Comics
Format: Softcover, 6.5 x 10, 144 pages, Full Color, $9.99
ISBN: 978-1-60706-366-7

What I like most about Skullkickers: 1000 Opas and a Dead Body is its ability to blend various stylistic techniques that invite comic book, anime, and graphic novel readers of all persuasions to its pages. Cleverly borrowing the best aspects of each of these literary formats (while still conforming them to its own unique style), the writers and artists of Skullkickers reach out to today's young adult and high school readers in various ways. Already popular with young adult and high school readers the storyline contains elements of action-packed excitement, comedic relief, and slightly intriguing rough and tumble violence.

With a diverse array of stylistic-interests already piqued, teachers, librarians, and parents can further motivate their young adult and/or high school readers to pick up this gem of a graphic novel by sharing other alluring and tempting qualities found in the story. Caught up in an assassination plot the two main characters in Skullkickers are mercenaries determined to finish their task. Just as determined to stop the would-be assassins, however, are some even more engaging characters and aspects of the story. Werewolves, skeletons, and black magic keep the action high, the reader guessing, and the story captivating. Total page-turner.

English Language Arts Elements of Story

Plot: Two mercenaries are troubled in their assassination plot by other characters, obstacles and various aspects of the story

Themes: Good and Evil, Right and Wrong, Problem-solving, Planning-Plotting-Execution, Truth and Justice

Traditional and Contemporary Literary Pairing Suggestions: Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and/or The Lord of the Rings, George Orwell's Animal Farm, William Golding's Lord of the Flies, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein   

Some Teaching Recommendations For Young Adult and High School Readers

Common Core Standards for Reading (grades 6 – 12):

Craft and Structure
4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
5. Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
6. Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.*

Lesson Idea for Young Adult and High School Readers:

Directions: In the T-chart below identify the two main points of view (one on each side) in Skullkickers (one to represent the mercenaries and one to represent the werewolves, skeletons, and black magic).  

After identifying the two main points of view list the context clues (both words and images) from the story that helped you to interpret each group's point of view. Feel free to draw, quote, list page numbers, or paraphrase your responses. When you are done with the T-chart engage in a whole class discussion about the two points of view and the various elements of the story that led you to identify and explain them correctly. 


Katie Monnin, PhD, is an assistant professor of literacy at the University of North Florida and author of Teaching Graphic Novels: Practical Strategies for the Secondary ELA Classroom (2010) from Maupin House. To learn more about Teaching Graphic Novels or Katie Monnin, please go to this link: http://www.maupinhouse.com/monnin.php.