Publisher: BOOM! Studios (BOOM! Box imprint)
Writer: Katie Cook
Artist: Mike Luckas
Release Date: 8th December, 2015
Ahh, the Christmas special. Ranging from the glorious (see: Brown, Charlie) to the cringe-inducing (see: Wars, Star), to say they’re a bit of a mixed bag would be a major understatement. That doesn’t stop them from being released year after year though, but thankfully, the latest comic book Christmas special – Munchkin’s “Deck the Dungeons” – is actually pretty damn good.
It’s Christmas Eve, and Spyke and Flower have very different ideas on how they should spend their time. Flower wants to chill out and eat a whole pie herself (I mean, who doesn’t?!), but Spyke has a better idea. By his logic, now should be the perfect time to launch another assault on the dungeon, right? With all the dungeon’s denizens out Christmas shopping, there’s loot for the taking, and besides, Spkye hates Christmas, for reasons that become apparent later in the issue.
Katie Cook takes the writing helm here, and injects the proceedings with her trademark sense of playful humour. Some of the gags are almost intentionally bad, but some are utterly inspired, such as the distinctly Munchkin-esque variation on the Christmas Carol story and the almost rendition of the “Twelve Days of Christmas”. This is an issue that will keep you smiling throughout, and while it’s far from highbrow humour, for a collection of slapstick moments and Christmas-themed gags and puns, you’re really not going to do much better.
Cook also has some fun breaking the fourth wall a little, peppering the story with little asides where a White Elephant follows some of the other dungeon denizens home to see how they’re spending Christmas. These have mixed results, but provide some great comedic moments along the way, particularly the segment where we visit the home of the “Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come” which is, simply put, genius.
Artist Mike Luckas (Skullkickers) does a fantastic job with the visual side of the book, keeping things smooth and lively throughout, and putting together some impressive scenes of widespread dungeon lootage. He also stays faithful to the distinctive card game style of John Kovalic, while making sure to throw in some of his own unique characters along the way – particularly the Christmas-themed ones – and the whole thing is rendered with some bright, eye-catching colours courtesy of Fred Stresing and Katy Farina.
If ever there was a book that was perfectly suited to telling a story about the season of giving, then… well… uh, it’s probably not Muchkin, to be honest. That said, this is still pretty damn funny, and provides yet another impressive use of the brilliant characters and world of the Steve Jackson Games juggernaut. Featuring some bright, colourful artwork and some brilliant comedic moments (the “Tiny Tim” wedgie tickled me in particular), Deck the Dungeons is a Christmas special that any self-respecting comic fan would be lucky to find in their stocking this year.
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