Superhero comics are often a bit too serious these days. All these people with powers beyond imagine, and they can’t even muster a smile or enjoy all the cool things they can do with their flight, super strength, super cool gadgets, or whatever else they may have in their powerset. It’s so rare to see a super who doesn’t even worry about fighting evil, but just revels in the awesome situation they’ve been placed in. That’s where Brian Winkeler and Robert Wilson IV do something a little different with Knuckleheads.
Knuckleheads, like several Monkeybrain Comics digital works before it, is getting the trade treatment through IDW as the first arc of the story comes to a close. Knuckleheads centers on slacker Trevor K. Trevinski who receives the alien artifact known as “The Crystal Fist” one day while extremely hungover. Remembering nothing about the experience the next day, Trev uses the Fist to steal Netflix and cheat at video games, as most of us likely would. It’s only when monsters start destroying downtown and Trev, his roommate Lance, Guy the pizza guy, and Emma the hot, drunk English chick, get attacked by hillbillies and aliens that Trevor starts to realize he may just need to do more than sit on the couch in his bathrobe.
Winkeler and Wilson are both fairly unknown to most comic readers, with Winkeler having his comic Bastard Road appear in two early volumes of Popgun and Wilson only having a crowdfunded comic or two to his name, but Monkeybrain did a good thing letting them tell their story. The story is a simple premise — a slacker gets superpowers — but Winkeler takes it beyond that. There’s genuine comedy, believable characters, hints at great evil, pop culture references (Ke$ha sung in a public restroom), and there’s even a talking dog (sorta). Trev is a character that you come to love despite, or maybe because of, his slacker ways. Even for all the wit and comedy, Winkeler gets some good emotion in the mix towards the end. If there’s any downside to it all, it may just be all the pop culture references, especially for those who may miss out on the joke.
Wilson is no slacker, however, on art. From the first time you lay eyes on the book and see the cover, he draws you in. The covers, both for the trade and the individual “chapters” inside, are big, bright images that catch your attention. Once you get to the interior art, things get even better, as Wilson and colorist Jordan Boyd really get to it. While Winkeler puts the characters in increasingly ridiculous situations, Wilson keeps the art from being over the top. Sure, there’s a giant, alien monster, but that monster looks fairly biologically sound and it doesn’t draw from the story in any way. Each knowing smirk or surprised gasp keeps the sitcom feel of the story going, even as Trev and the gang end up in space battling aliens.
Knuckleheads coming to print is a good thing. The trade even comes packed with pinups from the like of Joe Eisma, Kyle Starks, Brian Churilla, and more, plus an introduction from Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman. If you’re looking for something a bit less serious and something that’ll make you laugh, give Knuckleheads a try. You’ll laugh. You may even cry, but that might just be because you laughed so hard.