Hello there, Ghost Nation! We have something new lined up for you today. It’s not quite a Stew’s Review… it’s more like an interlude in that series. Stew’s Interludes? …Yep, we’re going with that until I come up with something better. Inter…. interstewdes? No, that’s not it; that’s abysmal. I’ll get something someday.
Today, though, we’re looking at a newer, independent press comic book of which you can still get in on the ground floor! We’re going to look at Suspicious Behavior Productions’ work, INVASION FROM PLANET WRESTLETOPIA!
If this sounds like the kind of kind of title you would dig, check out the link to their site there, or hit them up (do cool people still say that? Am I dating myself? I am an old man and the world and its lingo are confusing to me) on Twitter @SBP_Comics.
TITLE: Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia #1 and #2
WRITERS: Ed Kuehnel & Matt Entin
ARTISTS: Dan Schkade
COLORS: Marissa Louise
LETTERING: A Larger World studios
Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia’s title is not one to mess around with subtlety, and the premise is exactly what you might glean from it: An intergalactic empire whose culture bears a striking resemblance to what we know as professional wrestling here on Earth intercepts fifteen year old television signals from a wrestling show. On the particular episode they pick up, a disgruntled star–the protagonist of our series, Rory Landell–has declared himself the Galactic Champion of the Universe, and that doesn’t sit well with the leader of the Wrestletopians.
In the missing years between Landell declaring himself the Galactic Champ and the Wrestletopians picking up the signal, Rory’s life falls into shambles that may seen familiar to any wrestling fan that has seen a sad name from their childhood on the banner of a local federation show… or to anyone who has seen Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. Landell is reduced to traveling across the country to various small-time companies and working for peanuts because it’s the only life he knows.
On the road with Rory is his long-suffering manager Don, who–in a great call-out to what wrestling has always done–is a Hawaiin who is stuck playing an evil Chinese character gimmick. Don tries to steer Rory right and keep him straight, but Landell is often too cocky or just too much of an asshole to follow along. It’s essentially like Chad and Andy trying to work with my sorry ass!
The first issue ends with the report of Landell’s declaration being brought to the Wrestletopian champion, Manifest Destiny, and his taking great umbrage to it.
The second issue gives a tiny glimpse into Rory’s childhood to a time when his father ran out on him after an argument with Rory’s mother, showing us that Rory has come by his broken lifestyle honestly (and it gives Landell a historical impetus to walk out of his original company when they went back on their word to give him the title). Meanwhile, the Wrestletopians have come to Earth and surrounded the planet in a steel cage in preparation for the battle to come.
After establishing the barricade, the invading warriors arrive on Earth with a bang, taking out a television morning show host and hijacking the show to declare Manifest Destiny’s intent to crush Rory and prove himself the true intergalactic champion. In the meantime, he plans to use Earth as his own Regal Rumble (ha!), leading to… honestly?… one of my favorite comic book panels ever. And that’s not even hyperbole.
THEY ARE GERMAN SUPLEXING AND CAMEL CLUTCHING THE SECRET SERVICE! Ha! That is wonderful AND HOLY CRAP I JUST SAW THE OTHR GUY WITH THE BOSTON CRAB! That panel just keeps on giving. If nothing else, this book was worth it for that panel.
The good thing is that this isn’t a “nothing else” situation. So ultimately, what did I think? As a long-time wrestling fan, I thought this book scratched a wonderfully nostalgic itch. The build-up set in the past with Rory in the AWF had the whole-hearted feel of the AWA or another one of the old territory federations that were fighting to survive as their sport shifted culturally. The modern stuff with Rory wrestling in a casino buffet is an intentional downer because there are older talents still doing the same thing in the real world (this isn’t a heavy book, but there’s a nice touch to see how far Landell has fallen in fifteen years). The aliens feel like a stereotypical hodgepodge of eras, from the 1980’s where everyone was a big, bright, bombastic character, to the Attitude Era with the hyper aggression and violence. I’ve expressed my love for the attack on the White House shot up there, but the first image of this article with the guy reporting in to Command like he’s giving a promo is another highlight of the series. There are just a lot of touches like that that makes this book feel genuine and more like a love letter to the Sport of Kings than a heartless parody.
The art is perfect for the book, and truly just flat-out good stuff on its own. It is cartoonish and colorful, and Schkade really captures the absurdity of the story while keeping it grounded enough during Rory’s humanizing scenes. It reminds me slightly of Bruce Timm? Maybe that’s it; there was something there I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but I think that’s what it was.
I do recommend this, and I’m curious to see where it goes from here. It’s genuinely funny and has a well-constructed story behind it. Absolutely give it a shot. Again, their website is right here and they can be found on Twitter at @SBP_Comics. Big thanks to them for their work on this series and for letting us take a look at it!
And as always: Until next time… take care!