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‘Total Party Killer:’ Comic Book Review

Do you have what it takes to walk through death’s door and do what “needs” to be done?

This is the question presented to a small town by four heroes looking to fill out their party in a quest to kill a dragon and her ilk. A Cleric, Sorcerer, and Rogue stand by a Knight (or Paladin – IYKYK) who checks applicants in a small town. When a moment of seeming triumph goes terribly awry, only little Verity remains in the presence of what can only be considered murderers. Taking her in amongst them, she becomes an intern: carrying gear, tossing potions and other consumables to party members so that they can focus on their battles. Another botched moment makes life even more difficult for little Verity, who then has to put everything on the line to see her goal through.

I really enjoyed every panel of Total Party Killer. It sits so comfortably with its genre and had me giggling in empathetic joy, because every little beat felt pulled right from a table-top session. The Knight is firmly in the “it’s what my character would do” phase, while the others seem to devolve quickly into murderous hobos who are frustrated that they have to wait on their intern to grab what each of them demand at any given moment. Writer/artist David Yu is well-versed in roleplaying game mechanics and uses them to subvert expectations of anyone reading this one-shot. What does it look like, truly, when the paragon knight gets to the “finish the mission at ALL costs” stage as his companions fall? What would happen if everyone but the newbie died? When the healer goes down, it’s up to Verity to replace her, which turns out to be quite the tall order indeed.

Yu’s artwork is a lot of fun. All of the character models are unique and manage to tell a lot about their personalities. Though I usually prefer books with clean lines and neat edges, the looser style helped to not only tell the story but also keep my engagement high. Each character seems to be breaking out of their roles just as their colors leak past the restrictive line work. It lends itself well to creating the “larger-than-life” aspect of typical of RPG characters, where no rules of decorum, decency, or space will get in the way of the Will of the Party.

I think what I enjoyed best about the whole of the book took place on the final page. Throughout the story, Yu works to gently subvert tropes and craft something truly unique, but the final panel puts the whole rest of the book into a hilarious and ridiculous perspective. I love a reveal that I can sense but cannot predict, and Yu and Verity (which, after all, does come from the root word for Truth, ha) land a true beauty of a sucker punch for the reader right on the button.

I enjoyed what felt like a looser structure in Total Party Killer, and the constant feeling like I was watching an actual play adventure unfold before me. If you’re a fan of tabletop-like fun with zany twists and turns, then you’re going to love this book, too.

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Creative Team:  David Yu (Writer/Illustrator), John Malkin (Editor), Sean Callahan (Production)
Publisher: Scout Comics
Click here to purchase.

Erik Cheski, Fanbase Press Contributor



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