My first thought for reviewing Knuckleheads: Fist Contact, IDW’s print collection of digital publishing wunderkind Monkeybrain Comics’ hilarious, sitcom sci-fi adventure comedy, was to combine all of my exuberant Knuckleheads single issue reviews into one super review. But, then I realized that would make for one very long review, and co-creator and writer Brian Winkeler, co-creator and artist Robert Wilson IV, colorist Jordan Boyd, and letterer Thomas Mauer’s names would appear way too often, paired with an in-depth celebration of their skills and talents, issue by issue. So, dear reader, to spare you that much-deserved praise overkill, I will stop my review here and simply tell you to go out and buy the amazing, the incredible, the hysterical Knuckleheads: Fist Contact, and to read it for yourselves.
But . . . before I go, let me just mention a few things about this phenomenally entertaining book. Bringing together the first eight issues of the first arc in an ongoing storyline, Fist Contact retains all of the original covers, as well as the plethora of pin-ups that graced the end of the single issues, including short bios or connections between the artists and the Knuckleheads creative team. The book is brimming over with behind-the-scenes extras, from some of Wilson IV’s original artwork, from the Monkeybrain Comics run and from his and Winkeler’s self-published, very first issue, to an enlightening interview between Winkeler and Wilson IV and Comic Book Resources that pulls back the curtain on the time and effort put into creating an original series and the struggles the two creators faced, and the resilience it took, to make Knuckleheads a reality. This is great stuff, inspiring and entertaining, and that’s just the extras. I haven’t even talked about the laugh-out-loud introduction from comic book couple Corrine Bechko and Gabriel Hardman, praising Knuckleheads, and some of their own work, most notably Hardman’s Kinski, which Winkeler and Wilson IV pay homage to on the cover of issue six. They turn the introduction into more of a back-and-forth discussion, and I can think of no better way to be introduced to Knuckleheads, especially for the first time.
For those of you not yet in the know, which hopefully is fewer and fewer with each passing day, Knuckleheads is the laugh-infused and laughter-inducing story of lay-about, pink robe-wearing Trev K. Trevinski, his much more sensible and athletic best friend Lance, and their new friends, Guy and Emma (known, to great comedic effect, for the first three and a half issues only as Pizza Guy and Hot, Drunk, English Chick), and their adventures to understand and master The Crystal Fist, an intergalactic weapon given to Trev by aliens and imbued with unknown powers. Oh, and to stay alive. They have to contend with giant monsters, aliens, hold-up men, talking dogs, and that’s just from the more action-oriented side of things, except for the talking dog, that’s more from the comedy-oriented side of things. And, Knuckleheads is rife with comedy, from one-liners and clever dialogue to gut-busting character moments and all manner of pop culture references. To try and pull out specific moments of comedic gold is like going to the dentist and telling him to pull out all of your teeth because your whole mouth hurts. Jokes run through the entire storyline and always come naturally from the characters and their situations.
If you finish Knuckleheads: Fist Contact and do not feel an emotional connection with the characters, then you, dear reader, are incapable of emotion, or possibly you are simply not funny. Either way, the world must be a cold, cruel place for you. But, if you let the Knuckleheads in, their message of cracking jokes in the face of imminent danger and putting it all on the line for your friends, may be able to turn that serious, unfunny disposition around into one that accepts and embraces love and laughter and friendship and the excitement of the unknown and most importantly, humor. You read it here first: Knuckleheads could save your life . . . from being really terrible. While Winkeler and Wilson IV probably didn’t set out to change the world, they just might end up saving it, one pancake stack topped with horseradish hash browns and one pepper spray-filled condom at a time, and with one group of friends that you won’t soon forget, especially with all the cosplaying that’s surely on its way.