Skin Horse Vol 2
by Shaenon K. Garrity & Jeffrey C. Wells
Cover Artist: Shaenon K. Garrity
Review by Paul Haggerty
Softcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780984087716
Date: 1 September 2010
Skin Horse, the outrageously inventive webcomic by Shaenon K. Garrity & Jeffrey C. Wells, is back with the second dead-tree volume chronicling the wacky adventures of the shadowy U.S. Government agency in charge of the social welfare of the non-human sapient citizens. This time the crew is off to Alaska to investigate the disappearance, and possibly consumption, of four national guardsmen, with rumors of smarter than your average dogs roaming the land. This is going to put Sweetheart into one heck of a dilemma.
While Volume 1 included four of the team's adventures, Volume 2 is entirely taken up by the massively long-running Alaskan adventure. Well, almost all of Vol 2. There's a bit of room in the back for a couple of pieces of fan-art, and the special, i.e. non-web-available, mini-story, Sandwich Day, which revolves around Tip and Unity, and some of the aftermath of what befell them North of the Border.
Led this time by the by-the-latest-therapy-book, Tip Wilkin, the finely tuned team of experts rides forth in their own personal black-ops helicopter, prepared to do battle with whatever nefarious forces await, only to find themselves faced by the perfectly normal small town inhabitants of the town of Paradise, who are wondering what all the fuss is about. With town folks showing no inclination towards rampaging, a massive snow storm cutting off communications with the outside world, an attractive local sheriff who is very eager to cooperate with an easily distracted Tip, and a really put-out, now 2nd in command, Sweetheart, the team dynamics are really thrown for a loop. But all is not well in Paradise and things are not what they appear to be, or even what they appear to be after you've determined that they're not what they appear to be and now think you know what they really are. And if the team can't pull it together, things are going to get hairy indeed.
Skin Horse Vol 2 is the laugh a dozen times a page comic that we've all come to expect from Garrity and/or Wells. But it has also got a fascinating serious side as well. Each of our heroes has a background, and for the most part we have only a few clues as to what they may be. In Vol 2, we learn about the origins of Sweetheart, a product of Canadian Super Mad Science, bred for one purpose: the destruction of the United States. That said, and given how her epic destiny turned out, it's also a back story that she might just wish wouldn't come to light. And in addition to learning more about the prime crew, Vol 2 introduces us to several new and highly memorable characters, some far too interesting to possibly leave behind when the story's over.
If you're wondering about just how vague I'm being concerning what you'll find between the bright red covers of Skin Horse Vol 2, you have to understand that this is a very tightly plotted storyline, with multiple subplots and characters that move from location to location, affecting everything around them and changing the situation from moment to moment. Even a majority of the jokes are tightly tied to the plot line. One wrong detail and half the book could be spoiled, something that would be a terrible thing to do.
Okay, one detail: R.I.P Ramón. He had such dreams.