By Greg Pak (writer), Ron Garney (pencils), Paul Mounts (colors)

Being a fan of Planet Hulk, Skaar is a book that has tons of potential. After all, Hulk’s romp on Sakaar is one of the greatest stories ever told for the green behemoth. When you pair the story’s architect, Greg Pak, with one of the most explosive artists out there in Ron Garney, it almost seems like a recipe for comic gold. Unfortunately, Skaar’s first outing gets off immediately on the wrong foot.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Ron Garney – he’s one of my favorite artists – but the work he’s done on the last few issues of Wolverine completely turned me off. And it’s not that his compositions were bad, but the lack of any sort of inker really hurt his work. Some artists can get away without the use of an inker’s skills (like Leinil Yu or Cary Nord), but it takes extremely tight pencils or an extraordinary colorist to bail you out, or a combination of both. Well, Paul Mounts fails to bail out the penciled work here, and Ron Garney’s pencils are scribbly and loose.

I can’t begin to tell you how many panels in this issue are riddled with scribbly black lines to portray weight and shadow. It’s fugly, unrefined, and too raw. But maybe that’s what Marvel wanted to portray in this book – a raw, primal feeling. Personally, I think it’s crap. I own original Ron Garney art with inks by Bill Reinhold. I know how good his art can look inked. And until Garney starts to use an inker again, I won’t be praising him.

I understand the need to accelerate Skaar’s growth. The team felt the need to get into the thick of things and make an impression on the readers as quickly as possible.

That formula backfires here.

Instead of taking his time showing personal growth and humanizing Skaar, Pak makes him a grown man-child in a matter of pages. There’s so much story that could have been told but what we’re given is a series of skips and stutters that mar the flow of the story (if you want to call it that). Remember in the movie version of Conan The Barbarian where Conan’s a child and in a matter of seconds he’s an adult? That’s pretty much the same concept here, but there’s nothing that makes his emergence compelling – and that’s because he’s not revealed until the last page.

Maybe this first arc will read better as a trade, but as a debut issue it’s completely below average. The art is dirty, the coloring is muddled, and the story lacks any substance. I enjoy all three creators on this book and they all let me down. I love the world of Sakaar based on what Pak gave us in Planet Hulk, but Hulk’s son has a long way to go if he hopes to compete with similar, more superior titles like Conan (Busiek’s run is mind blowing) and Joe Kubert’s Tor. (Grade: D+)

– J. Montes

A Second Opinion

I jumped back into reading comics after the Planet Hulk/World War Hulk storylines so I am coming into this Skaar series with only the most basic knowledge of what happened during those events. I mention this so you know where I stand with this review in contrast to Jason’s. Also, before I begin, I want to say that I have no idea the potential this story holds since the setting and characters involved are completely new to me. In other words, I am taking this debut issue completely at face value. With all that said, even though I agree with some of Jason’s points, I find myself satisfied with the premier of Skaar.

Skaar #1 is an extremely quick read, but I hesitate to fault the book for this when the writing is so effective. Greg Pak does an excellent job quickly recapping events, bringing the reader up to speed in only a few pages. Unfortunately, this speedy storytelling continues past the recap of events and brings Skaar from child to young adulthood much too soon. I like the story of a warrior as much as the next guy and appreciate a good fight, but a little bit of characterization, of any sort, would have gone a long way. While it is unfortunate how quickly Skaar’s maturation takes place, Pak does a nice job writing the villagers/slaves in a way that brings more to the Skaar character even when he is nowhere to be seen. Also, the barbarians are ruthless (yet humorous), it says a lot about Pak’s writing ability when generic characters can effectively keep the book interesting.

As for the art, I can’t possibly be as critical as Jason. I felt that the “unrefined and too raw” look fit the book quite well. This is a brutal, unrefined, alien world and the artwork reflects that in a certain way. Addressing the inking issue, I honestly don’t think I could picture this book with the type of inking used in something like Secret Invasion. There is a certain charm to the way things are portrayed in this book and, while it isn’t exactly pretty, it works given the subject matter and story style. I also like the creatures Garney has created, making the world feel sufficiently bizarre and alien.

Overall, Skaar didn’t exactly blow my mind, but I did enjoy it for the most part. It really is as though Conan was born in the Marvel universe on an alien planet and I like that concept. This wasn’t exactly the strongest way to kick off a new series, but I find myself hooked regardless. (Grade C+)

-Kyle Posluszny