As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been a wrestling fan. The larger than life characters. The heightened melodrama. No matter how small the venue, a good wrestler can make an audience feel like the whole world is watching. In the case of Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia, the new comic series from from Ed Kuehnel and Matt Entin (with art by Dan Schkade and colours by Marissa Louise), it’s not just the world watching, but the entire universe…..eventually.
The series follows wrestler “Rock n Roll” Rory Landell who’s fallen on hard times. Back in the wrestling heyday of the 80s, Rory was a big star who was always just on the cusp of being made a champion. But when the booker decides to keep the title on a more family friendly “Boy Scout” type character, Rory cuts a promo on live television about not needing the “world” title as he’s the champion of the entire universe. (Wait a second, a Universal Champion? It’ll never work.) Rory then leaves the company and becomes just another sad sack wrestler moving from territory to territory just to make ends meet.
While his message of being champion of the whole damn galaxy didn’t get over with the fans of the AWF, it eventually finds an audience. The television transmission travels light years into space and is picked up by an alien satellite on the planet Wrestletopia (a planet full of wrestlers if you haven’t figured it out). Manifest Destiny, the leader of this world of grapplers, sees Rory’s words as a declaration of war. It’s been decades since Rory’s made that promo. Now it’s come to bite him on the ass all these years later. Destiny has come to Earth for one thing and one thing only: a fight with Rory on the grandest stage of them all – The Sportatorium – for one fall to a finish. Winner takes all, brother!
In the first two issues of Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia, Ed and Matt have done some amazing world building. The character of Rory is fully fleshed out as we see him in multiple stages of his life, as a kid, then a pro wrestler, and finally a washed-up has-been. We also get a pretty good understanding of the characters from Wrestletopia and their motivations (which are simple but exactly what’s needed to sell the angle). They’ve also pulled off telling a wrestling story that fans of sports entertainment will find interesting while still making it accessible to non-wrestling fans. There isn’t a lot of wrestling in this book. The most in ring action we see is a match involving a bear. Granted, that bear is the best damn worker in the company. However, the implied action is there and leaves the reader wanting more. I personally can’t wait to see Rory get his gear on and have at with some alien superstars in the squared circle. Much like a good episode of NXT, they give you just enough to bring you back for the next issue.
The artwork by Schkade and Louise is a lot of fun. They do a great job of capturing the larger than life feel needed for this story. Manifest Destiny looks like a total bad-ass. Rory has a quality that shows hints of The Rock mixed with Randy the Ram (Mickey Rorke’s washed up bruiser from The Wrestler). There’s some great story being told in the visuals. The facial expressions (a strong component of “selling” any match) are right on the money. You can feel what Rory’s going through just by looking at him.
Some of the greatest stories in wrestling have involved crazy concepts being brought down to Earth through the raw emotions of the wrestlers involved. Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia has so far captured this idea and put it on the page. If you’re a wrestling fan, you’ll get a kick out of this book. If you’re not a fan of wrestling, you’ll still have fun. Pick up the first two issues on Comixology today!
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!