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I Heart Skull-Crusher! #2
BOOM! Studios

Comic Books

‘I Heart Skull-Crusher!’ #2 is all killer, no filler

‘I Heart Skull-Crusher!’ keeps the laughs and the feels coming in a knockout second issue.

As I mentioned in my review of this series’ first issue, Trini is one of the most infectiously optimistic and fun lead characters I’ve seen introduced in quite some time. I Heart Skull-Crusher #2 — from Josie Campbell, Alessio Zonno, and Angel De Santiago — goes a long way towards reinforcing that feeling. She’s obviously hiding a great deal of trauma from the rest of the world (heck, she carries fragments of her parents’ skulls wherever she goes), but she also channels all of her energy into an almost blind “can-do” spirit that I can’t help but love. This manifests in ways that are both inspirational and hilariously dark. She never gives up on her crew and is always ready to make new friends, but she also straight-up kidnaps her team’s coach and chains him to the front of a truck to make him participate in the games at hand. It’s not the most advisable way of forming a lasting partnership, but the whole book is so full of madcap comedy and kinetic energy that it feels of a piece with the world around it.

Pretty much every single element of this book feels fine-tuned to elicit the pleasure centers of the brain. Character introductions come with super dramatic title cards, complete with stats (or, in the case of the Bubble City Bullets, each member’s net worth). Characters become mutants in the middle of a match and erupt icky slime from their mouths. Trini’s id is fully on display, with even her innermost daydreams being openly illustrated for the reader (that wedding cutaway is one of the sweetest and funniest things I’ve seen this week).

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I Heart Skull-Crusher! #2

BOOM! Studios

And through it all, we have the common thread of Screaming Pain Ball, the greatest-named sport in fiction history. We finally get to learn some of the rules of the game in this issue, thanks to some helpful diagrams and a rambling monologue from Trini. Some of it starts to descend into Calvinball-esque nonsense as the explanation goes on, but that just adds to the fun. But just like in all the best sports manga, we’re not here to pay attention to every little rule; we’re here to see characters make bold declarations of friendship and self-belief, then bring home a victory with one spectacular move! This book is a sterling example of how embracing tropes to their fullest, wackiest extent can yield some truly enjoyable storytelling.

I have a few minor quibbles, mainly due to the quick pace of the book. For instance, while I appreciate the foreshadowing of the zombie hordes outside of town, I did feel like we were missing a scene here when our heroes suddenly escape from the monsters off-panel. But again, that’s a small gripe — and we get plenty of zombie action before the book is done! I Heart Skull-Crusher! is a total crowd-pleaser, delivering sports-action fun that’s all killer and no filler, and I’m already chanting for the next issue to arrive in the arena.

I Heart Skull-Crusher! #2
‘I Heart Skull-Crusher!’ #2 is all killer, no filler
I Heart Skull-Crusher! #2
'I Heart Skull-Crusher!' is all killer and no filler, keeping the laughs and the feels coming in a knockout second issue.
Reader Rating1 Votes
8.5
Endearing characters who have huge hearts under their wacky exteriors
Fast-paced action that feels right out of the best sports manga
All of the jokes hit in a perfect space between emotionality and absurdity
It feels like we're missing an action sequence with that zombie escape!
8
Good
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