Written By: Brian Winkeler
Art By: Robert Wilson IV
Colors By: Jordan Boyd
Letters By: Thomas Mauer
Since the superhero genre is now over 75 years old, it’s difficult to tell original stories. Themes like the struggle between good and evil and the nature of heroism and villainy can only be told so many ways before they’re depleted. That same problem extends to the characters that frequently inhabit the stories. Eventually, you can start recognizing the similarities. It takes something special to take an old concept and make it feel fresh. The creators of Knuckleheads have been able to do so, in several respects.
The protagonist of the book is Trevor “Trev” Trevinski, an overweight slacker who has what appears to be a spiked crystal gauntlet around his knuckles. The gauntlet, called the Crystal Fist, was given to him by aliens, and it’s supposed to grant him some kind of unknown superpowers. Trev, slacker that he is, has only been using it to cheat on video games and get free Netflix. You’d be hard pressed to find a lazier protagonist.
Trev’s sole supporting character is his roommate Lance, who is his complete polar opposite. Lance is athletic, handsome, and he actually recognizes the power of the gauntlet and what Trev should be doing with it. He doesn’t seem to mind the benefits of free Netflix, but when a giant alien is spotted in their city, Lance immediately tries to stir his roommate to action. However, Trev couldn’t give even a single care. He doesn’t even believe it when everyone mentions the monster outside, and only stirs to action when the monster’s rampage affects him personally.
One of my few problems with the book is that it’s just too dang short. There’s only a mere ten pages of story to be found in the first issue, which means that we don’t get to see much more than a glimpse of the characters and the setup. Thankfully, Winkeler makes it count by establishing the characters well and making us enjoy being around them. There’s plenty of good funny moments between the small cast, and I do feel they can end up having some strong chemistry together.
Interestingly, Winkeler and the other creators of Knuckleheads decided to not focus on Trev’s origin or how he got the Crystal Fist in the first place. Almost any other creative team would have showed his alien benefactors and shown us what the Fist itself can do, but it seems they’re waiting to show us in the subsequent issues. I certainly hope to see a good fight between Trev and the monster. If the Fist is as powerful as Lance seems to think it is, we should be in for quite the ride.
I was particularly pleased with the art. Robert Wilson’s style is very easy on the eye, and it blends wonderfully with the colors from Jordan Boyd. I really hadn’t expected to be quite so impressed by the art in an independent comic, but I certainly was.
Like many comic books, the issue ends on a cliffhanger. This can be annoying sometimes, but it actually ended up being a strength for Knuckleheads. If the reader didn’t particularly care for the story, they wouldn’t want to come back for more. After turning the last page, I found myself genuinely wanting to know what happens next. That’s the best praise that I can give for any artist.