Stop me if you’ve heard it, a disgruntled wrestler so close to breaking into the big time, only to be denied when he’s inches away, a promoter choosing ratings over the wrestlers’ thoughts and desires, nothing new for wrestling fans perhaps, but a perfect insight into the world never the less. The opening few panels do very well to establish the foundation of the story and what we as the reader are getting ourselves into.
The first few panels show us the main character (Rory Landell) in his element, a cocky, blue collar, high energy, hype spitting machine, but it’s not long before we are given a glimpse into the darker side of professional wrestling, the injuries, old age and the substance abuse. The shift in tone adds a human element to the character, and from stories I’ve read about professional wrestlers and the demons they have faced, it made him feel almost real, as if this was a wrestler I had followed, possibly cheered or booed at some point.
Soon enough we encounter the main antagonist, an eater of worlds and other wrestlers alike, who looks nothing like a typical bad guy wrestler and that is just fine, I won’t spoil too much on what this “wrestler” will bring to the ring or indeed the story, but brace yourselves folks cause were heading for space mountain, wooooo!
The art in this comic is very hard working, it has a sense of purpose and there is not a panel wasted, we get treated to many iconic settings, such as the locker rooms and arenas, the long winding road often travelled by wrestlers. The colour scheme perfectly marries the cartoonish larger than life feel of wrestling in the 80s, when the madness and the maniacs were at their peak, to the raw (pun incredibly intended) sense we received in the mid to late 90s, when the people had a champion and all of mankind watched that 20×20 canvas.
I particularly like how the layout and art work so well to casually introduce those that may not be au fait with wrestling and how it is supposed to look, given that this is a wrestling/sci-fi comic that is no small feat. For the casual fan it’s something new to explore, a New World (Order), and for those like myself, we are already right at home.
And while the Sci-Fi feel to the comic is present but not over powering, a nice balance of yes, we are on earth but there is other worlds and opponent’s out there, not a distraction for us “wrestling marks” and an alluring hook for those who prefer the more science fiction orientated plot points.
I would also like to mention the character design, designing a roster of wrestlers, managers and promoters is by no means an easy task, you don’t want people to say they have seen it before, or that it’s a rip off, yet you want to light up the readers imagination. This is achieved perfectly from the word go, the main character has so many elements from years gone by that I couldn’t help thinking of The American Dream, The Louisville lip, The King, The Macho, The 8th wonder of the world and The Nature Boy, not copying any of them but borrowing certain fundamentals to create something that encapsulates wrestling.
Spectacle, storytelling, good vs bad, but most importantly larger than life characters, is why I adore professional wrestling and this comic has all of it. Invasion of Wrestletopia blends the worlds of wrestling and Sci-fi together immaculately, so well in-fact I was going to ask a certain brother to GET THE TABLES!!!