The Starting Line: Aspen Bound for Portal combat on WrestleMania week.

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Welcome to the week in #1 comics. Also, happy WrestleMania week! Before men and women with no pants fight over belts, let’s look a bright spot and a not so bright spot of debuting comics in this first week of April.

Portal Bound #1

 

 

Story: Gabe Carrasco, Mark Roslan

Art: Alex Arizmendi

Colors: Wes Hartman

Letters: Zen

Published by: Aspen Comics

 

 

Immersion and maniacal pacing aren’t easy parts of video game storytelling to use in comics. That’s why often times, straight adaptations of video games to comics aren’t successful. But there’s something to be said for using those tools in an original story. Portal Bound from Aspen Comics gets that idea more than most books that try to take advantage of playing too many video games with Portal Bound.

Elias Rivera is an average high school student on Earth, worried about his World of Warcraft clan and not being good at talking to girls. There just happens to be an alternate world out there called Havos where magic and science blend. One under the rule of a megalomaniac named Atilus who also has his sights set on conquering Elias’ world. The only hope either has is a young warrior girl named Sybil, raised to be a no-nonsense badass fighter. Elias and Sybil are unknowingly connected to a power they have no understanding of but may just be the key to saving both worlds.

Aspen Comics has a long resume of good fantasy worlds. Writers Mark Roslan and Gabe Carrasco create an interesting one here that properly kicks off by introducing readers to the outrageous beasts and portal science part then grounding it through Elias typical high school drama. The character’s awkwardness will play well against Sybil being all Grace Jones in her wanting to fight everything if the creative team continues to play it that way. Even with its frantic pacing between two worlds, issue one manages to properly set up the stakes of the Portal Bound while it shows what’s fun about both settings and their people.

Alex Arizmendi’s pencils combined with Wes Hartman’s colors is a solid job displaying a lot of visual research in creating Havos. Its plant life ecosystem borrows elements from planets like James Cameron’s Avatar while its people dress like Overwatch and Starcraft cosplayers. That’s far from a bad thing as those are some of the most visually compelling properties in their respective mediums.

Portal Bound #1 is a comic that’s the beginning of a proper love letter to fantasy such as Willow and combat like Overwatch. Best of all there’s no 12-year-old taunting you over Xbox Live.

WRESTLEMANIA 2018 Special 

 

 

Story: Julian May, Ryan Ferrier, Lan Pitts, Tini Howard

Art: Michel Mulipola, Kindall Goode, Jake Elphick, Rodrigo Lorenzo

Colors: Doug Garbark

Letters: Jim Campbell

Published by: Boom! Studios

 

This week, over 100,000 wrestling fans are converging in the Big Easy for World Wrestling Entertainment’s grand spectacle, WrestleMania. Think of it as the Superbowl or San Diego Comic-Con for those who love spandex clad choreographed athleticism. So it’s time for the comics crowd to get another collection of vignettes highlighting moments from the event’s 30 plus year history in Boom! Studios WrestleMania 2018 Special.

Readers get four stories telling events such as The Miz’s main event against John Cena from WrestleMania 27, the Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth reuniting at Mania VII, WrestleMania III’s legendary bout of Macho Man vs Steamboat, and a look at what Stephanie McMahon does to prepare for Triple H’s overproduced entrances (I would have prefered the one where Motorhead played in Triple H live).

The best of the four stories, “When A Macho Man Loves A Woman” tells an almost Archie like romance tale about Macho Man Randy Savage’s match with the Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VII. Fans will remember the career vs career match that saw the Warrior pin Savage and (in-story) end his WWF career. This short builds on the memorable reunion of Savage and his lady the gorgeous Miss Elizabeth at the end of that match. Writer Ryan Ferrier imagines a romantic post-match date for the two at an amusement park which is sabotaged by a jealous former manager, Sensational Sheri. The whole thing has an Archie Andrews/Betty vibe with Sheri playing the role of Veronica Lodge in this scenario. If you want more evidence as to how ridiculously fun this tale is, we even get an appearance by Nature Boy Ric Flair in one of his $15,000 robes at the same amusement park. Also, Ryan totally nails what I imagine the Ultimate Warrior did to prepare for his matches.

Ultimate Warrior eating Macho Man wrestling buddy is nominated for panel of the year.

For everything I like about this special, there is three times as much that lands sour. “The Authority Wears Prada” short by Tini Howard attempts to make an interesting comic book story out of backstage preparation for one of Triple H’s famous WrestleMania entrances by wife Stephanie McMahon. The bossy and villainous nature of her on-screen character is written on point and it’s a well-illustrated tale by Rodrigo Lorenzo but it all just feels a bit inconsequential since Stephanie picking her outfit is the thing any wrestling fan has never ever wondered about. If you’re a wrestling fan, the whole story is something you’d rather watch on the WWE Network as part of the “24” documentary series than read about in a comic book.

The piece which dropped the ball most is “Iron Sharpens Iron”. Writer, Lan Pitts actually gives a compelling narration to one of WWE’s most legendary WrestleMania matches, Macho Man Randy Savage vs Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. Go back and watch it on WWE Network or your dad’s VCR, it’s a classic full of near pinfalls and dangerous dives; one I would normally be stoked to see immortalized in comic book form. It’s the artwork of Jake Elphick that doesn’t mesh with what needs to happen on the page. These herculean figures don’t look sculpted out of stone, they look more as though human anatomy is pure silly putty. While the artist has an admirable aim in capturing the action, the figures are distracting with definition not being where it should and one character’s neck looking like a giraffe had a run in with Steven Segal.

Overall, WrestleMania 2018 special picks some solid moments to tell stories about (and one strange choice) when it comes to recanting the history of the showcase of the immortals. However it definitely can’t be recommended due to the majority of its execution not being the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.

…sigh.

Here’s the rest of this week’s debuting comics, WOOOOOOO!

XERXES FALL OF HOUSE OF DARIUS #1 (DARK HORSE)
(W) Frank Miller (CA) Frank Miller
Persian King Xerxes sets out to conquer the world to avenge his father Darius's defeat and create an empire unlike anything the world has ever seen
CURSE OF BRIMSTONE #1 (DC COMICS)
(W) Justin Jordan (A/CA) Philip Tan
 With the power of fire and destruction coursing through his hands, Joe must now track down and destroy the demon he made his deal with before the power he now wields destroys the town he was trying to save.
SWASHBUCKLERS SAGA CONTINUES #1 (DYNAMITE)
(W) Marc Guggenheim (A) Andrea Mutti (CA) Philip Tan

DEMI-GOD #1 (IDW)
(W) Ron Marz (A/CA) Andy Smith
When irresponsible slacker Jason McAndros suddenly gains the power of a god, the fourth wall isn't the only thing he breaks!
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #1 (IDW)
(W) Ian Flynn (A) Tracy Yardley, Jim Amash, Bob Smith (CA) Tyson Hesse
SONIC'S RACING INTO A NEW ADVENTURE!
ANALOG #1 (IMAGE)
W) Gerry Duggan (A/CA) David O'Sullivan
CHAPTER ONE: Five years from now: the security of the internet has been totally destroyed. Secrets are no longer sent over the web, they're entrusted to armed couriers called "Ledger Men," like human punching-bag Jack McGinnis.
ISOLA #1 (IMAGE)
(W) Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl (A) Msassyk (A/CA) Karl Kerschl
The captain of the Royal Guard has fled the capital city with the Queen of Maar, suffering under the effects of an evil spell. Captain Rook's only hope of returning Queen Olwyn to her throne and saving the kingdom.
AVENGERS SHARDS OF INFINITY #1 (MARVEL)
(W) Ralph Macchio (A/CA) Andrea Di Vito
A new threat has emerged: An evil organization calling itself LUNAR has been secretly building a powerful weapon on the surface of the Earth's moon.
VENOMIZED #1 (MARVEL)
(W) Cullen Bunn (A) Iban Coello (CA) Nick Bradshaw
The story that began in VENOMVERSE reaches its epic conclusion with VENOMIZED! 

HELM #1 (ACTION LAB)
(W) Jehanzeb Hasan (A) Miguel Angel Reyes (A/CA) Mauricio Caballero
Pursued by the merciless Legion, the mysterious witch Luna Lumere, wanted for a laundry list of "crimes against the Commonwealth," evades capture in an effort to intercept a train carrying Eldrick Spellsong, Jr., a "magick-maker" she believes to be the key to unlocking an age-old prophecy.
TINSELTOWN #1 (ALTERNA COMICS)
(W) David Lucarelli (A/CA) Henry Ponciano
In 1915, Abigail Moore became one of the first female police officers in Hollywood. But beneath the glamorous surface of Tinseltown beats a rotten heart full of corruption.
WELCOME TO PARADISE #1 (SCOUT COMICS)
(W) A.C. Medina (A) Morgan Kendrick Sawyer
Welcome To Paradise is The Good, The Bad, and The Uglyset in an underground bunker the size of California, 3 centuries after the Apocalypse.
ZERO JUMPER #1 (ALTERNA COMICS)
(W) Patrick Mulholland (A/CA) Patrick Mulholland
An ancient power source that can manipulate space and time is buried deep on a barren world and Juno, the last human, must embark on a dangerous journey to find it. 

HAPPY WRESTLING!