This issue is a more intense sci-fi-style story, and as we learn the origin of a deadly, new enemy, the Knuckleheads find themselves caught off guard, leaving them less time for their signature quips and witty banter, though when the moment is right, comedy still rears its humorous head. This is a risky issue, both for the dangerous predicament Trev, Lance, Emma, and Guy find themselves in, and for Winkeler and Wilson IV, who delve into a serious narrative, raising the stakes considerably. And, it works beautifully. Just as our heroes are thrown off by the shift in tone, moving from their usual levity to a more somber immediacy, so are we, and the result is a strong, emotional impact that resonates long after the last page. I make this sound all doom and gloom, but that is not true. There is a fantastic sci-fi tale being built here that you know Winkeler has just been itching to reveal, and that he and Wilson IV knew exactly where Knuckleheads was going when they started, transitioning seamlessly from sitcom to saving the world. There are also some exciting developments with the Crystal Fist, unexpected but exuberantly embraced by all involved, except for the villains, of course.
Jordan Boyd’s colors provide an alien feel to the surroundings, and to the actual aliens, and there’s a color used in a way never before seen in Knuckleheads, and the result is powerful. Thomas Mauer expertly weaves the dialogue through large amounts of action, so that the two are happening simultaneously without one overwhelming the other. Because of this, the word balloons never break up the pacing, allowing the intensity to build uninterrupted. This issue has action, comedy, tragedy, a cool backstory, and a cliffhanger that will make your eyes well up with a mixture of sadness and hope. Winkeler could not have written this issue if he and Wilson IV hadn’t already brought the characters together through lighthearted comedy, endearing them to each other, and to us. They have become sincere friends, and while they may not be prepared for what happens next, they will face it, fists clenched, teeth bared, and jokes flying, together.