If like us, you grew up on a steady diet of 80s action figures and Saturday morning cartoons, then Luke Toywalker and Lucasz Kowalczuk’s Knock Off Wars will be a heady trip down memory lane, back to those happy days of Sunny D infused youth!
Publisher: Underworld Muscle
Writer: Luke Toywalker
Artist: Lucasz Kowalczuk
Price: $2.00 digital or $6.50 from Underworld Muscle
Inspired by Toywalker’s Underworld Muscle blog about mashup action figures, Knock Off Wars sees a group of intrepid heroes set off on a mission to find the mysterious Monster Castle home to all the secrets of the world of Vulkanair. The quest is lead by Primor of the Turley clan (a violent green reptile, with a red eye mask who looks strangely familiar) and he is joined along the way by heroes named Trolldolf and Killasaur who he meets in a series of blood soaked battles and are keen to share in his adventure.
At its core Knock Off Wars is a pretty straight forward quest tale, more in the vein of Conan than He-man (especially when you factor in the limb chopping violence!) and as such the dialogue is pretty shouty and the characters are paper thin. But that’s kind of the point! It’s not meant to be a subtle character piece looking at the human condition, it’s a showcase for the weird imaginations of Kowalczuk and Toywalker! And what an imagination these two have! They have created this unique world that their equally weird characters can populate and along the way produced a crazy, fun, violent and utterly original comic! Sure, the characters are all reminiscent of those Saturday morning heroes like the Masters of The Universe and Thundercats, but importantly they aren’t direct copies or homages, instead they capture the spirit of those character without copying them directly. This manages to not only make it feel fresh and unique, but also keeps those pesky lawyers from the door too!
Kowalczuk’s art is perfect for this book, as his kinetic visuals and eye popping colours create this perfect hybrid of underground comix anarchy mixed with neon 80s excess. The pages are all designed as splashes, and are divided up with lightning bolts and treelines for the edges of panels, rather than with a rigid border, which helps maintain the chaotic, sugar-soaked energy you need for a book like this. Each chapter is also introduced by a reminder of its Saturday morning cartoon roots with an intro page featuring a mysterious ‘viewer’ watching the adventures on TV surrounded by various 80s and 90s ephemera (from classic games consoles to movie posters, VHS tapes and all manner of other nostalgic easter eggs). We’ve been a big fan of Lucasz’s work ever since we discovered Vreckless Vrestlers and Slime, but this may just be his best work yet!