Written by: Dennis Hopeless and Aubrey Sitterson
Art by: Serg Acuña and Ed McGuinness
Colors by: Doug Garbark and Marcio Menyz
Letters by: Jim Campbell
You know, after I spent a good chunk of my last WWE comic review talking about the Triple H/Seth Rollins feud that was building up only for WWE to announce that Rollins was re-injured literally the next day, I often wonder why I ask for nice things. At all.
Still, the reinjury makes the second issue particularly interesting in that wake.
The second issue hits at hyperspeed, with covering the eight months Rollins held the title in 22 pages. Which Hopeless makes work to his advantage by making the dizzying pace of the issue seem to take its toll on Rollins as he learns more and more the pressure of being a champ while his relationship with Triple H grows further strained as a result. Not just in the ring, but outside of it as Rollins pushes himself to the brink of exhaustion over and over again in training and in promotional appearances. Which leads to one very bad snap decision in facing Brock Lesnar and another very decisive snap as his knee buckles under just months later.
This kind of portrayal of Rollins and Triple H is especially interesting in the wake of recent plot developments on Raw. We see more of Triple H the businessman, working behind the scenes to bend the world to his will. Not only meeting with investors and guiding Rollins, but with his wife Stephanie McMahon being his partner in all of this. While McMahon was not featured as much as I would have liked, it was a step up from her position in the previous issue, showing her as a key component in Lesnar's suspension and for Undertaker's return for SummerSlam 2015.
The problem for me at least is that having a comic formed around extremely well documented events such as WWE programming is that it's easy to find all the weird and easily avoidable continuity details. Such as Rollins actually coming out to confront Lesnar the night after Mania, with Rollins ducking the fight by claiming exhaustion. Or that Payback that year had a fatal four way match, not Extreme Rules. Or that Sheamus came back with the mohawk. It's probably a dumb thing to get fixated on, especially when the opening scene was streamlined so easily by cutting out Rollins' confrontation with Brock and they're such small details, but it does drag out of the story for a second. That's probably my own problem when they're such small things to begin with and it's not like wrestling and comics have always had a perfect continuity anyway. I know I had to take a step back from this when remembering that just because Rollins was injured in Dublin and not "the middle of nowhere" doesn't necessarily mean that Rollins as a narrator remembers that he was injured in Dublin.
Acuña returns for art on this issue and it feels like he's loosened up more from the previous issue. The action shots are a bit more fluid and the sequence in particular where Rollins knee is injured is especially divine. His expressions are still top notch and the way his version of Rollins shifts from smug to angry to unsure is something to behold. He also makes Lesnar and Undertaker especially foreboding in the brief sequences we get to see them in. While I may not be the biggest fan of Lesnar, the comic reading of him makes him actually seem more like a monster than WWE booking does.
The backup story for this issue comes from Sitterson and McGuinness with a focus on The Ultimate Warrior. Now, I admittedly got into wrestling about two years ago (probably why I'm such a detail stickler for the main story), so my familiarity with "classic" wrestlers is extremely basic. Particularly, all I know about The Ultimate Warrior is his one really bad comic and his horrific comments outside of the ring. However, the two pages are beautifully rendered and I do appreciate that the backup stories are delving into the more fantastic sides of wrestling stories than the main story. This should be especially interesting with the next issue, which will feature a backup about Finn Bálor by Tini Howard and Acuña.
Despite weird detail hang-ups and unfortunate real life parallels, the WWE comic still continues to be a super fun and streamlined look at the programming we see on TV every week with an extra dash of behind the scenes kayfabe and bad puns. Hopeless and Acuña bring a particularly sympathetic look to Rollins leading up to his injury, which is not easy to do considering how much of a massive bastard he was on TV during his entire title reign. If you're interested in wrestling, but aren't sure where to jump in or you just want more backstory to the wrestling you watch every week, Boom's WWE comic is proving to be especially good for that.
Let's just hope Rollins actually gets to close this story with Triple H out soon.