WWE #6 [Ringside Apostles Review]: Fringe Benefits.
I’ve found this series to be consistently enjoyable, with good attention to detail, interesting backstories and “kayfabe” (wrestling fan terminology for storylines)… On the plus side, the art has also been great, with strong character likenesses, etc., etc. And–that’s why I’m pretty disappointed with this issue. First the good: It’s cool seeing Ambrose and Sasha (but, shh, don’t tell Renee Young!), with how their characters build, and their bonding on the road, etc. It really is.
First off, it’s weird seeing Dean using the old version of the Dirty Deeds finisher. He’s been using the 2-arm hook ddt for a long time now, yet he’s portrayed using the forward falling headlock. Not horrible, just weird. Really bad #1: In the Ziggler match, it kind of look like Ambrose won by pinning him while Ziggler is face down on the mat.. Just let that simmer. Really bad #2: Did.. did I just see Dean defeat Zayn with a submission? A.) Zayn is in a heel role (HA! WHAT?) B.) He won applying a submission, via three count. Internalize that. 2/5 Submission Victories via 3-Count.
With the Architect’s arc finished, it’s time to focus on the Lunatic Fringe and the road to Money in the Bank. We open at Extreme Rules, post-Asylum match with Chris Jericho—you know, the one with the thumbtacks—and Dean Ham-brose claiming he’s not actually crazy. His car won’t start which sets off a chain of events involving him (probably) getting a dude fired and run-ins with Sasha Banks and Brock Lesnar that could only happen to him. Aside from a few cringe-worthy lines (Ambrose’s greeting to Roman Reigns particularly stands out), Dennis Hopeless’s writing is solid, as usual. Serg Acuña does a great job at capturing Ambrose’s ridiculous facial expressions (I don’t call him “Ham-brose” for nothing). The back-up story picks up with New Day’s battle with the Dark Unicorns. It’s okay; not nearly as interesting as the previous installments their “Optimistic Odyssey” has been. 3.5/5 Cherry Tomato Brock Lesnars.
The rebuilding of Seth Rollins continues! This fast pace game of cat-and-mouse between Seth and Triple H picks up where we left off last month, with Seth at the end of his rehab. Seth is medically cleared but HHH continues to be a roadblock. Sometimes, even literally. In a game of keep away that would make The Roadrunner and The Coyote jealous, Seth has to contend with a traffic jams, a small army of backstage security as well as WWE Superstars willing to sell out their fellow man to secure good favor with the Cerebral Assassin. We are treated to a short story featuring the Eater of Worlds (no; not the giant one with the purple headdress and the flying hood ornament…), Bray Wyatt, and the entire Wyatt Family dealing with a trespassing fan who finds out what happens when you do indeed follow the buzzards. The back-up spotlights some strong work by Ryan Ferreier and creepy atmospheric art by Clay McCormack.
Dennis Hopeless and Serg Acuña continue to blur the line between work and shoot with this reimagining of the facts of Seth Freakin’ Rollins road back to being the WWE Champion. Roman, AJ Styles, Kevin Owens and even the New Day can not, and will not stop Seth from getting what he wants. BOOM! Has made a comic for Wrestling fans and a maybe just maybe made some Wrestling fans into comic fans. 4.5/5 Pedigrees.
WWE WRESTLEMANIA 2017 SPECIAL #1 – BOOM! Studios
Dennis Hopeless takes a brief detour from his monthly Seth Rollins story (see Ryan’s review of this week’s issue #3 just below) for the WWE WrestleMania 2017 Special #1, which features five past short stories based on it’s-still-real-to-us-dammit past and present WWE events. In “Ladder Match”, HBK faces Razor Ramon in the first ever.. you guessed it.. ladder match. (Spoiler: Razor wins.)
Story number two focuses on Triple H and Stephanie’s plans for their eventual takeover of the company during Hunter’s time nursing an injury. Then things get a little trippy with the New Day traveling through time spreading the power of positivity. This story didn’t actually end, but, instead, left us with a cliffhanger as the Xavier, Kofi and Big E are set to fight… the Dark Unicorns. I told you it gets trippy. In “You’re Good But…”, we travel with Daniel Bryan on his journey from training, to NXT, to SummerSlam, to the World Championship twice. The final story features Sami Zayn versus Kevin Owens and tracks their feud back to the indies and even further back, to high school and elementary school. Who’d a thunk it?
Overall, this Mania Special is pretty Carlito cool. It’s only 42-pages long so there are about 8 pages per story. I expected more of a focus on actual WrestleMania matches, so the title kind of threw me off. Also, New Day. The other four stories are all based on actual events, while their “promo” brings us a magical ghost unicorn dude and time travel (although they did use the cardboard box time machine from that skit they did on the Vaudevillians about a year ago–so there’s that). Regardless of the placement, I’ll give the ish… 3/5 Unicorns, because… NEW DAY ROCKS!! NEW DAY ROCKS!! NEW DAY ROCKS!!
Issue number 3 of BOOM Studios partnership with WWE centered around the recovery of Seth Rollins: how he went from feeling on top of the world as the WWE champion, only to find himself on the shelf questioning himself and his future. Rollins then finds his drive to be “The Man” again and Redesign, Rebuild, and Reclaim! There was an awesome short back-story/rhyme on the how and why of Finn Balor becoming Demon King, which puts into perspective why he only brings out the demon when absolutely necessary. The thing that jumped out to me the most after reading this issue is just how tuned into the programming writer Dennis Hopeless is. He nails the dialogue so well, I could actually hear the wrestlers’ voices saying these things in my head–especially Triple H.
The New Day’s small cameo/shameless product placement for Booty O’s Cereal was also a lot more entertaining than any of the New Day Pops segments from recent memory. But best of all? Cuing the accuracy of modern smark reactions through the eyes of Rollins as he witnesses the rise of The Roman Empire; Hopeless even takes an amazing “meta” jab at Roman’s terrible jokes. Overall, the first three issues of BOOM’s new WWE series takes me back to the Undertaker comics of old, but with a fresher spin, more in-tune with the actual characters that makes them all the more relatable. 3.75/5 Bibles.
BOOM!’s second issue of WWE follows Seth FREAKIN’ Rollins settling into his role as WWE Champ post Wrestlemania.
There’s nothing new to report on the artwork front. The artstyle is still solid and serviceable with clean lines. Some likenesses are good (Rollins, Triple H, Steph); others are… something (Lesnar, Heyman), but not all too distracting that they pull you out of the story…
I found myself enjoying this issue more than the first. It was cool seeing Rollins’ growing pains as not only the new champ, but as the Authority’s crown jewel. They also did a good job at portraying at what might have been going through Rollins’ mind during said period.
I’m eager to see if this ongoing series follows Rollins’ story or whoever holds the championship belt itself.
The first issue of BOOM! Studio’s new WWE-based comic doesn’t disappoint. With an alternate viewpoint of one of the most shocking turns of the modern era, Marvel scribe Dennis Hopeless (All-New X-Men) gives readers a peek at what was behind the break-up of The Shield and rise of Seth Freakin’ Rollins. The comic makes it hard to hold onto any anger towards SR for turning on his Shield brothers; nuttier– the story actually makes you feel bad for him! Throw in some clean illustrations from Serg Acuna, and you have a fun and compelling first ish, a definite great way to add more layers to a storyline wrasslin’ fans thought to be fairly cut and dry. As for its pending direction, one thing’s for sure: when it comes to WWE, things aren’t always what they seem.
It’s hard to say anything about Part 2 of The New Day’s Optimistic Odyssey without a smile creeping across my face. This crazy mix of time travel and wrestling is silliness at it’s finest. Rob Guillory‘s (Dirk Gently) illustration perfectly invoke the wacky and lighthearted feeling that has made The New Day a fan-favorite. With the back-up format, you get a quick and easy dose of humor without any unnecessary detail. Before you have a chance to get bored or question the level of inanity the issue wraps up and leaves you wanting more. While the antics do lend themselves to being very popular for younger readers, the proposed featuring of old school WWEff wrestlers and eras make for a good choice for adult fans as well. 4.25/5 Heart Break Kids.
We seem to agree on a good chunk of the new WWE #1 from Hopeless and Acuna. You already know the events; now you get to understand the behind the scenes motivations and internal struggles of The Architect. It’s very interesting to see Rollins’ drive, and how goal-focused he is, and how he’ll just throw anyone under the bus for the sake of his own gain. The narrative blurs the line a bit, seeing as he was the heel during this stretch and here we’re seeing him as the misguided hero of sorts; but I love heels and I was a day-one fanboy of Seth when I returned to watching WWE after a while off. The book is surprisingly a lot of fun, well written, and fast paced, and Acuna’s art style of cartoony-action but with weight and expression is fantastic.
All the ducks seem to be in line storywise, except one detail in the book that was jarringly wrong: Seth using the Pedigree finisher during this period. Every wrestling fan knows he was using the Curb-Stomp at this time in his career until the move was eventually banned. He cashed in his Money In the Bank, then curbed stomped Lesnar, and then later Reigns, and pinned him to win the title. There’s a couple page back-up feature, “The New Day’s Optimistic Odyssey Part 2” from writer Ross Thibodeaux and the aforementioned Guillory that features the former hip gyrating WWE Tag Team champions on hijinx through time. Personally, I didn’t care for this part as Jennifer did, though I can see how some might find it fun, I felt that it removed the emotional strength from the rest of the book. Should have just saved the space and gave us a few more pages of The Man. 3.75/5 Curb-Stomps.
***REVIEW – 11/11/16***
Bah Gawd! WWE has a new comic book series. And although this WWE/BOOM! Studios collaboration was announced months prior, my skeptical ways kicked in. How do you tell the story of the wrestlers in a comic book way? Won’t it come off cheesy? This–not so much. The tale of how The Shield came apart is/was/always will be (heh) interesting. For those marks wondering: Then. Now. Forever #1 adds a little more fantastical, comic-esque good versus evil aspect to the pages. For Dennis Hopeless‘ (Cable & X-Force) first issue in the sqauared circle, I’m impressed; not totally committed for a long series of comic Curb Stomps but I’ll take it. 3/5 Curb Stomps.
We always said that life in the squared-circle was comic book storytelling on the small screen, but the squared circle jumped from the screen and into your hands. Boy, is it fun! What starts off as the eventful day that led to The Shield’s break-up delves into a day in the life of the Shield as they’re just hanging out and grilling, totally in kayfabe by the way. It sows the seeds for the arc to come. Along with that is the New Day’s shenanigans that they get into as camp counselors of positivity? So much yes!If you love wrestling, get it; if you love larger than life characters get it. Just get it already! 5/5 Bibles.
This comic is so good, you guys! (And not “so gud”, dear Deacon Felipe…) Hafta admit, my opinion is biased as shit since 1.) I love almost all things wrestling, and 2.) I’ve loved BOOM! Studios since the first time I saw James Silvani draw Darkwing Duck. The main story actually made me care about the Shield as a group–yes, I’m that asshole who squeed with glee at Seth’s turn–and the back-up story made me laugh a helluva lot harder than it should have. Hell, Xavier Woods has a time machine made out of a refrigerator box, because– of course he does. 5/5 Giant Print Bibles.
Just when you thought you were over that whole Shield thing (even with repeated ads for the next feature on the WWE Network), they–WWE & BOOM!–bring us back in with some of the best written wrestling comic dialogue ever. Sure, Mic Foley is an accomplished scribe.. but this, BOOM! Studios, is the big time. They got a Marvel guy spinning the wheels, and it’s clear as “A New Day” that Hopeless knows his professional wrasslin’.
Onto the goods that every other Apostle hasn’t mentioned: The Shield just sound right. Everything from Ambrose’ “rowdy loose cannon” jibberjabber to Roman’s “playin’ it cool” quips.. to Seth’s.. ahem.. twisted fate, just reads on-point. I love the focus on these 3, rather than try to smother all of us with the entire brand (or, hell, roster) in 22-pages. The powerbomb pencilwork of Dan Mora (Hexed, Klaus) is the work of Titans. He just finds that right balance between comical spunk and sketchy grit. The Shield appear so personable without coming off like POP! Vinyl figurines. In the brief back-up story, Rob ***Who? WHO?? WHOOOO???*** Guillory (Chew) goes the other way with the wrestler designs to great, some would say Booty-O-ful results. Simply put, WWE: T.N.F. #1.. rocks. 4.75/5 Broken Matt Hardy’s.