When it comes to geek culture, there are two fields that I am completely immersed in to the point of near obsession: comics and professional wrestling. In rare instances, these two intersect. While it’s usually just references to comic culture within a wrestling character, or wrestling happening in the background of a comic, like Ringside, there are a select few comics that deal with wrestling mythology directly. This week, Boom Studios gave us just that, with the first issue of their WWE ongoing title.
Wrestling in comics has a history of being a marketing vehicle; seen in the 1990s. While hilarious to look back on, to say that those series are of a particularly high quality would be a lie. It was with that in mind that I picked up this book somewhat trepidaciously. As an unabashed fan of WWE wrestling, there’s a certain level of inherent respect for the wrestlers in spite of the ridiculous nature of the stories. And, obviously putting product that’s marketed at younger kids aside, it’s really hard to grab that reverence in another medium. However, in this issue, Hopeless does just that. We enter the story, which bases itself on actual matches and storylines from recent WWE history, just after Seth Rollins wins the Money in the Bank ladder match. Rollins, while elated, is in constant conflict with himself, as he had just abandoned his friends in Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose to align with the evil Authority, which is spearheaded by Triple H. The meat of this issue is what your mind is suppose to fill in between the matches and televised events. We see Rollins interact with fellow wrestler’s like Ambrose and Triple H, and how the actual events we saw in the past few years came to be. The characters are all rich, we are immediately thrown into a conflict, and any wrestling fan will be hooked by this book. While the script itself sometimes seems a little ham-fisted, it works for the ridiculousness of professional wrestling. Throughout the whole issue, I found myself drawn to the way Hopeless embraces the way WWE tells their stories and expanding upon it, adding just enough without rewriting what you already had in your head. Based off his social media presence, Hopeless is a big wrestling fan, and he displays it beautifully in this book.
For licensed properties, comics has an occasionally sketchy history with the artwork. Whether it’s to fit into what the parent company requires without conflict or for another reason, a lot of these books come out with bland artwork. That said, there are also books like Transformers vs. GI Joe, which embodies the wackiness of toys, seen in Tom Scioli’s Kirby like artwork. Serg Acuna’s artwork sides much closer to that of Scioli’s work. A more apt comparison would be some of artwork you saw on the Dark Horse EU Star Wars books. While Acuna maintains a likeness for all of these real life people, it never felt stiff. Acuna hits the perfect line of similar to the real life people, but not so beholden to it that it’s jarring. I think a good deal of praise should also be given to Doug Garbark’s colors. The palette he choses is very expressive in both the themes of the actual properties and in how the scene is emotionally transpiring. In that, it would be easy to get overly rendered and filtered colors, but Garbark has a nice balance here, giving these extremely toned athletes dimension but not too much. The only knock I would give the art would be some odd proportions in the quieter moments, and it’s really only in the smaller panels. I specifically look at the moments with Shawn Michaels, who appears to have a head that’s slightly larger than the rest of his body. That said, those I noticed were incredibly nitpicky, and did not detract from my enjoyment.
Having missed out on the one shot from a few months ago, I am entering the backup story at part 2, and, while a little lost, I felt it embodied everything about The New Day. The simple fact that Rob Guillory of Chew fame is putting in work with these two pages is enough of a sell for me. His off the wall style is a perfect fit for this story and The New Day in general.
This comic managed to capture the mythos of a misunderstood and sometimes hard to grasp medium of professional wrestling. As a comic fan, I’m hooked by the story and characters. As a wrestling fan, these athletes always have my attention.
4 Pedigrees out of 5