Issue number two of Invasion from planet wrestletopia starts of on a sombre note as it reveals a little about Rory’s childhood. It would appear that wrestling is the family business as we witness a dejected Terry Landell (Rory’s Father) having to admit to his girl that he has not returned with the belt they both desire. Though when he slapped what can only be described as a wad of notes on the table to the tune of £400 I thought all was well but no, this situation seems to stretch beyond money. The use of shadow and colour in these few pages work wonderfully together, creating a beautifully melancholic atmosphere.
Flash forward to present day and we see adult Rory Landell, sleeping rough but still tough. And the first thing that happens after he wakes is his knee pops. A common injury among seasoned wrestlers and a sad reminder that Rory isn’t a young man anymore, that his best years may be behind him. Rory’s first stop after getting dressed and walking through the desert (the literal kind, not the metaphorical kind) is a local watering hole, making us realise that all those years wrestling didn’t just leave him physically damaged. Sadly this is also an all too common issue with seasoned wrestlers. It is these little humanising touches that give the characters depth, allowing the readers to empathise with them.
Leaving Rory for the moment we are whisked right out into the middle of the Arizona desert where two astronomers spy something that is straight out of the x-files. Both arguing over who has to wake their boss and tell him that there are several spaceships placing what appear to be cage like laser-walls around earth. This is in stark contrast to the cold opening but I think it is fantastic. It mirrors professional wrestling perfectly, while the sport itself is over the top, overly dramatic, mad-capped nonsense, behind the scenes it can be dark and bleak.
A news report soon allows the reader to assess the situation, that is until it is cut short when the news reader is laid out cold with a chair shot to the back of the head. At this point the wrestling fan in me was wondering where the ref was and where the story was going now that we are picking up some momentum.
The next few panels show famous locations such as London, Rio de Janeiro and Washington being attacked by…let’s call them “The Outsiders”. The outsiders are laying waste to the human population, stomping mudholes on humans and looking like they have every intention of walking them dry. Amongst all the chaos we are treated to some of the greatest scenes in comic book history. Like the American secret service being wrestled into submission on the White House lawn or British Beefeaters being choked out outside Buckingham palace. All while a fantastic heel promo is delivered from the head of the outsiders, Manifest Destiney. Who has orchestrated all of this carnage to call out our hero, Rory “Galactic Champion of The Universe” Landell.
As we check back in on Rory we find him slumped at a bar trying to woo himself a free drink for a bar maid who looks like she has went 1-30 in a royal rumble populated entirely with Brock Leasner’. Sadly, though this is no boyhood dream and very suddenly reality is interfering in the form of three outsiders who seem intent on ruining Rory’ buzz. Now instead of making these three outsiders seem like disposable goons or hired guns with no real purpose they come across instead as legitimate characters from the Ivan putski on the left to Mil Mascaras front and centre and finally a cross between Jake the Snake Roberts and Ravishing Rick Rude on the right makes these characters seem very threatening and important.
It is clear from the writing and characters that the creators of Invasion of Wrestletopia have a great deal of both knowledge and respect for the subject matter. It would have been easy to just have a surrogate Stone Cold wrestle aliens and poke fun at that, but the writers went far beyond that. Creating something that is a perfect mix of camp wrestling fun and gut punch emotion. This is a series that is well worth your time.