WWE: THEN.NOW.FOREVER #1
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writers: Dennis Hopeless, Ross Thibodeaux, Rob Schamberger, Derek Fridolfs
Artists: Dan Mora, Rob Schamberger, Rob Guillory, Daniel Bayliss, Derek Fridolfs
The hierarchy of things I love goes comics, gaming, wrestling, family and stuff yadda yadda. In recent years, some of those things have been combined successfully, unfortunately, comics and wrestling were not two of them. WWE once tried to publish comics, most of which being forgettable with the exception of an above average Undertaker comic. When wrestling’s Attitude Era boom period ended; it didn’t seem likely that we’d ever see WWE try comics again. This week, Boom! Studios have partnered with the house of Vincent Kennedy McMahon to test the waters once again. After debuting single page WWE comics at SDCC this year, Boom! Have released the introduction to this new frontier of licensed comic books, WWE: Then Now Forever #1. Is it worth your hard-earned comic dollar or does it belong on the List of Jericho (which if you watch wrestling is still a pretty good thing)?
Then.Now.Forever is a sample anthology previewing what’s to come when WWE #1 lands in stores in the coming weeks. Its main story is written by Dennis Hopeless (X-Men, Spider-Woman). In a bit of a keen idea, it looks as though these comics could fill in pivotal holes in on-screen WWE storylines. Hopeless pens a story telling fans the unseen details behind the break up of WWE’s most dominant faction, The Shield. Before each man was WWE champion; Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns were a united front who beat the likes of the Wyatt Family and HHH’s supergroup Evolution. At the height of their popularity and with no visible foreshadowing that usually comes along with wrestling’s script, Seth Rollins turned on the group and took out the other two with a steel chair thus ending The Shield. It’s a fun tale of the trio barbecuing on top of production trucks and an attempted assassination attempt by the sinister Bray Wyatt. For as much comic book bombast you’ll see in these pages it still pales in comparison to seeing Stone Cold actually get hit by a car during Survivor Series or the beer truck showering the corporation in the ring. Comics is a place that can push the dial even further and with a writer/wrestling fan like Hopeless at the helm I full expect to see that happen as the story moves on.
The art on the book’s main story by Dan Mora matches the cartoony intensity of real “sports entertainment”. Whether the scene calls for a simple conversation between friends or Seth Rollins being hit by a car, Mora’s work fluidly adapts yet never breaks his bringing of a superhero style of art to these WWE characters. It’s obvious wrestlers from the 1980’s on were influenced by superhero comics. From unattainable physiques to over the top costumes, you can see the similaries the mediums share. Dan Mora’s work feels like a proper bridge of translating sequential comics story with the wrestling hyperbole.
One of the book’s other features is written and illustrated by noted wrestling artist Rob Schamberger. You may not have heard, the name but wrestling fans have no doubt seen his paintings of their favorite wrestlers. Here, he tells the story of a young female wrestling fan who would grow up to be one of the most revolutionary female wrestlers ever, Sasha Banks. The short itself is a beautiful tale of the circular nature of wrestling. Banks was inspired by the legendary Eddie Gurerro and the tale depicts how she will eventually inspire the generartion that follows her.
TNF is a book loaded with content. If you missed the single page comics which debuted at SDCC, they’re all reprinted here. We won’t get to talk about all the content the book features, but rest assured none of it feels like filler. When you have contributions from great creators like Derek Fridolfs, Rob Guillory, and Ross Thibodeaux how could it?
WWE: Then.Now.Forever is a proof of concept, one which shows Boom! Studios has found a cleaver way to make wrestling comics with a relevant feel for fans. When the following regular series debuts with WWE#1 it will continue to follow the rise of WWE superstar Seth Rollins filling in story details which never made it to TV. There’s tons of potential to tell good stories in a WWE universe of comics and books of this quality can definitely bring in diehard fans of wrestling who might not have given the medium a chance.
WWE: Then.Now.Forever #1 is in stores now and WWE #1 is in shops this January.
PS. BOOM! here’s a few WWE comics I need you to make:
Brock Lesnar v Undertaker Wrestlemania Special
Sami Zayn meets Archie (work that out with Goldwater)
New Day/Lumberjanes Crossover
Bayley meets Adventure Time!