Reviewed by: Ryan McLelland

Skulldier Stories: 4-echo #2
Written by: Justin Prime
Art by: Justin Prime
Published by: Self Published

Like any good colonization story about Earthlings going to other planets, Skulldier Stories does a wonderful job of showing what it would really be like for Terrans to go to other planets: kill everyone and plunder their resources. Certainly sounds like the American way. Except Skulldier Stories: 4-echo does it with a brightly colored ninja theme with plenty of violence and gore to go around. Pretty much the way I want my sci-fi ninja space adventures.

I’ll start off by saying it is a good idea to read Skulldier Stories: 4-echo #1 – though the first two issues are only mildly connected (SO FAR). #1 does introduce you to the universe though its main character (Nix) is different then the one we get in #2 (Masako). The first issue is actually free on writer/artist Justin Prime’s website so catching up has never been easier to do. Nix’s mission was to go to the planet 4-echo and achieve a not-so-easy mission. He is then told he can’t leave. That he has a secondary mission that must be accomplished before he can leave the planet. Nix tells his bosses to go screw themselves as I guess 4-echo seems like the perfect pace to disobey orders and spend the rest of your life.

In #2 we are introduced to Masako – a meditative older woman who also seems to be the galaxy’s most vicious badass. Masako is dropped on the planet, quoting different philosophers as she goes along, passing different indigenous species, until she is attacked by soldiers just like her: Skulldiers. They are known by their white enhanced armor that helps them be effectively vicious in battle. As they all wear masks it is hard to see if they are pleased to see Masako or scared that the killing machine is there. It doesn’t matter. Because now that Masako is on 4-echo it doesn’t matter how many of them attack her at once. They may find themselves without their heads very quickly.

Masako’s ship Eleanor is piloted by a big hulking grey alien named Org, who is also the sniper for the mission. Poor Org isn’t very happy that he’s been asked to stay behind on the ship as he was looking forward to killing some people.. He actually slightly plays the comic relief in the book as he commentates from the ship on what is going on. Eleanor’s AI plays straight man to Org’s wise guy and the two bicker at each other as they watch Masako continue to kill at will.

Do you know what I love? You would think in a book like this a female lead would be so beautiful, big breasted woman who would show up in advanced armor only to take it off at some point to run around in her one piece body stocking to show off her assets. But Masako is a slender 50 year old woman from Japan and doesn’t need to be a beautiful, big breasted woman to be an effective soldier. That truly makes her a bad ass. It’s an excellent writing decision by writer/artist Justin Prime and one that is rarely seen in comic books. I applaud the decision to make Masako an older woman and for almost everything Justin Prime accomplishes in this book.

As you watch the story unfold you can see that Masako is pretty much going to kill everything and everyone that stands in her way. The mission she has been sent on will most certainly be accomplished. But if she does accomplish it will she be able to leave? Or will she be forced to take on more missions for her masters back on Earth? What are these missions? The audience doesn’t know. We don’t know why Nix said no in the first issue to the additional mission. Is Masako assigned the same mission? Are there other Skulldier factions she has to hunt down? Will she run into Nix for a showdown as their two storylines converge? There’s many questions here but little answers. I’m still okay with this as we have four issues to go in this current miniseries and I was pretty satisfied with what I read in issue two.

The book is pretty gorgeous, moves quickly, and has a wonderful phrenetic energy especially during its action sequences. I love everything from the alien planets, the creatures that inhabit them, to the badass armor the Skulldier soldiers where. It’s a true testament to the talent of creator Justin Prime who just doesn’t write and draw the comic, but inks, colors, and letters the book as well. That is remarkable. Each part (art, ink, color, letter) looks very professionally done meaning that Justin is able to create every facet of this book with the same quality. From beginning to end this is a beautiful book full of action, violence, and intrigue. What isn’t to love about cybernetic ninjas in space?

While issue #2 for 4-echo is coming shortly you can get up to speed on the Skulldier universe by visiting Justin Prime’s website and reading issue #1 plus another short story within the universe. Don’t miss out on this book. Get over to the site, read the book, and pick up issue #2 when it is available shortly. This great indie book is a must read and I can’t wait to see where the story goes from here.

RATING: A

Visit Justin Prime’s website at: http://www.theartofjustinprime.com

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