‘Knuckleheads #1–3:’ Comic Book Review

Get ready for irreverent, super heroic hilarity in Knuckleheads Issues 1 – 3 from Monkeybrain Comics, my favorite digital comics publisher. The loose, goofy, action-packed, neon-infused story of Knuckleheads comes from writer Brian Winkeler and artist Robert Wilson IV, and the look of the book is rounded out with colors from Jordan Boyd and lettering by Thomas Mauer. Originally created by Winkeler and Wilson IV in 2010 as a single issue print comic, Knuckleheads is getting a fantastic, new life as a digital comic, and the creators definitely play to the format’s strengths, especially with their bold, eye-catching covers. I noticed this right away, and my opinion was validated at the end of issue two where Wilson IV discusses how they came up with the style and look of their covers. Everything inside the issue is a blast, too, and there is an excellent balance between comedy and action . . . and most of the action is comedic, as well.  I would expect nothing less from a pink robe, goggles, and boxer shorts-wearing superhero, nicknamed ‘The Crystal Fist’ and/or ‘The Human Joystick,’ depending on if you’re talking to his best friend Lance or their new friend, Pizza Guy.

The story is simple and fun and provides a solid framework for some great art and big laughs, as well as some genuinely clever dialogue. More than once I laughed out loud, and I was grinning the whole way through. Not to spoil anything, but Knuckleheads tells the story of Trev, a lazy, aimless slacker who is imbued by aliens with the mysterious powers of ‘The Crystal Light’ through The Crystal Fist – these powers are mostly mysterious, because Trev doesn’t really care to take the time to find out all The Crystal Fist is capable of until he is in the heat of the moment – he’s just been using it to cheat at video games and steal Netflix. So, I guess he’s a bit of a procrastinator, too. (No wonder I related to him.) His friend and roommate Lance, an all-around-athlete type of guy, would have probably been a better recipient of The Crystal Fist, but it wasn’t in the cards. Even so, Lance is ready to jump in to help Trev defeat a rampaging Cloverfield-like monster (as the characters call it, except for Trev, who doesn’t think anyone even remembers Cloverfield), and he’ll use whatever weapons he has available to assist, and his available weapons are pretty funny. The inclusion of Pizza Guy and Hot English Chick are entertaining and provide for even more of a showcase for Winkeler’s witty banter and pop culture-hued dialogue. A damsel in distress is called Fay Wray. Enough said. This title is to be read and enjoyed.

But, actually, enough has not been said, because I have not mentioned Wilson IV’s wonderful facial expressions, which mostly relay incredulity, panic, and hilarious reactions to hilarious comments and actions. The close-ups work wonderfully, the action scenes are active and engaging, and the monster acts as a perfect foil for Trev and Lance’s unintentionally comedic efforts to save the day, or rather a Hot English Chick and themselves. The bright color palette and unobtrusive lettering add to the laid back, impromptu feel of the series, which I appreciated, and all these elements blend together perfectly to tie up the first initial story arc. As an added bonus, each issue has a pin-up and other behind-the-scenes extras which make you feel more connected to the comic and its creators, which I believe is a smart and honest way for creators to communicate and endear themselves to their readers. This is something I wish was done more often in comics, so kudos to Winkeler and Wilson IV for opening the door between creator and audience. Knuckleheads is part monster movie, part slacker comedy, and part superhero adventure/origin story, and I can’t wait for more adventures and laughs to unfold in ridiculous scenarios that make me wish I had the powers of The Crystal Fist . . . and I could really just use some free Netflix.

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