Wrestlemania Special 2017 #1
(Credits in order of story placement)
Written by Box Brown, Dennis Hopeless, Ross Thibodeaux, Aubery Sitterson and Andrew Scott
Art by Jorge Corona, Dan Mora, Rob Guillory, Kendall Goode, and Andy Belanger
Colors by Gabriel Cassata, Joana Lafeunte, Taylor Wells and Dee Cunniffe
Letters by Jim Campbell
Five small, but simple, tales chronicle the grandeur, the scope, the importance of being at Wrestlemania, WWE's biggest event of the entire year. Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon battle in the first WWE ladder match at WM 10. Triple H vs Chris Jericho at WM 18 is step one of a larger story. Daniel Bryan's inspirational journey culminates in one of the best Wrestlemania stories in recent memory at WM 30. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens's decades-long friendship turns into a blood feud at WM 32. And The New Day travel through Wrestling History in a cardboard Time Machine. Never let it be said that Wrestling wasn't weird sometimes.
Wrestlemania, the biggest night in professional wrestling history, draws near. Fans from all walks of life will watch as epic bouts of titanic proportions reach stunning conclusions! Larger-than-life figures stride to choruses of cheers or jeers to soak in the reaction of a worldwide crowd. Amazing athletes execute death-defying, hard hitting maneuvers to defeat their opponents! It's a spectacle unlike any other. Is it scripted? Yes, of course it is. Is it absurd? Oh, absolutely. But it's a part of my life every bit as comics have been, if not more so. Professional wrestlers, for many like myself, are the closest thing to living, breathing comic book characters in both the stories they tell and the characters they portray.
I've been a pro wrestling fan ever since my childhood. I was there through Hulkamania, the Attitude Era, Monday Night Wars, Ruthless Aggression, all the way into today. I remember playing WWF games on Commodre 64, SNES, PS1 and Gamecube. I would have friends over and we'd have mini tournaments playing WCW Nitro or Thunder on Playstation 1. I used to have a Hulk Hogan T-shirt with the pre-made holes in the back when I was a kid. To not too fine a point on it, I love pro wrestling. I didn't get into watching the independent wrestling companies like Ring Of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla or Progress until much later in life, but I still watch WWE, for good and ill, and will likely continue to do so until either it dies or I do.
The first story brings us to the famous Ladder match between Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels for the Intercontinental Championship at Wrestlemania 10. Jorge Corona's art gives it a cartoonishly goofy style which lends itself well to the tone of the story. The match does replay some elements of what happened fairly accurately while taking more comedic liberties within its narrative. That being said, some of the dialogue feels like it's coming from someone doing a MST3K style riff on the match. I can hear Crow T. Robot saying, "I'm the champion of all the continents!" It's a decent little comedy bit, if nothing else.
The second story, "The Long Con", shifts the tone from funny to serious at breakneck speed. Focusing on Triple H, the tale takes place between the time he had torn his quadriceps and facing Chris Jericho for the Undisputed World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 18. Dennis Hopeless crafts an interesting story of a man who made his career as a hell-raiser, anti-authoritarian brute who was smarter than he looked and was on top of the world. But life and age happening, especially in a body-breaking business like pro wrestling, takes its toll very quickly. The art from Dan Mora helps compliment a story of what one does when they see the clock on their career running out.
The Third story "The New Day's Optimistic Odyssey Part 3" is a straight-up Bill and Ted parody, from the way the tag-team trio speak, to the Rufus-like "Unicorn Magic Ghost Dude." While the goofy tone and artwork may have been adequate for the first story, Rob Guillory's brightly colored zany antics are a much better fit here. While it seems like a continuation, I didn't feel lost or felt the need to catch up. The New Day travel through Wrestling history in a cardboard box. I'm just glad they didn't meet the Old Day again. Also, if you ever wanted to see Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat characters as unicorns, your ship has come in.
The fourth story "You're Good, But..." is a dramatization of the journey of modern day underdog Daniel Bryan. It goes through the ups and downs of the hard-kicking, "YES!" chanting submission specialist. Kendal Goode's artwork does an excellent job of recapturing the struggles and triumphs while Aubrey Sitterson's narration nails the character and his inner determination to never give up, even when it seems the world is against you.
The fifth and final story "The Kevin Owens Comic" takes us to Wrestlemania 32 and the intercontinental championship ladder match. Among the combatants are Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, two men who've known each other their entire lives. From playing with action figures to video games, competition and wrestling in particular was in the blood of both men. Moving forward, we take a brief look at their careers in the indies and finally, the WWE comes calling. While certain details were altered such as Kevin Owens usually winning matches with a package piledriver instead of the pop-up powerbomb, Andy Belanger's artwork compliments Andrew Scott's compelling writing about two friends whose ambitions often times got the better of the two, leading to an epic rivalry that spanned multiple promotions and several years.
This issue shows its pedigree (no pun intended) with creative teams that, if they were not fans of wrestling, did their research and at least watched the matches featured in this issue. It's an interesting novelty comic and something of a time capsule for future wrestling fans to pick up and read. I wouldn't consider it a good jumping on point, but it's clear this was made by wrestling fans, for wrestling fans.