Do A PowerbombDo A Powerbomb

Writer/Artist: Daniel Warren Johnson
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Publisher: Image Comics/Skybound

“Is pro wrestling a sport?” My husband Brad and I found ourselves ensnared in this onerously pedestrian conversation. It’s one of those queries like, “when someone says ‘red,’ do our brains see the same color?” or “is a sentient A.I. alive?” It sounds initially like a sparky conversation starter, but it is actually a one-way ticket to Dullsville. As evidence, I’ll have you know that Brad took the side of sport, and I insisted that pro-wrestling is not a sport but a graft between melodrama and circus. Brad asserts that it is a sport because the participants are doing a feat of athleticism, and there is a winner. I maintained that, even though it involves physical exertion and there is a “winner,” the winner is prearranged and, therefore, a farce. Ugh. I know, snooze. But I warned you. I’m an evocative writer, not a boring person. 

What makes this convo so mundane is that there is no objective answer, and yet we mistakenly believe that we can persuade the other person, so the impotent rhetoric just drones on and on in circles. Topics like this should be the length of two people trading prescription glasses. Blink, blink, “Oof! This is not how I see things.” Done. Over. Functionally, the two opposing viewpoints don’t change the circumstances. Be it a sport or a skit, it’s two or more people in skimpy outfits throwing each other around for our entertainment, and it’s too much yelling for me. It puts me on edge. I swear, in a past life, I was a temperamental Maltese. 

Obviously, I didn’t pick up Do A Powerbomb for the wrestling because it is not my thing. This is ironic because superhero comic books – arguably also opponents in spandex raising their voices while throwing each other around – are very much my thing. What can I say? I contain multitudes. I snagged that #1 because of Daniel Warren Johnson. He’s pretty much into all the loud stuff that rattles me – pro wrestling, heavy metal, and probably a third example. Brad practically had to plead with me to crack into Murder Falcon, but then Murder Falcon cracked into me, and I was hooked. If you’ve read any of his titles, including Wonder Woman: Dead Earth and Beta Ray Bill: Argent Star, then you know what I’m talking about. DWJ has a way of powerbombing your very heart (which is metaphorically hoisting it onto his shoulders and then slamming it into the mat of life. Yes, I googled what a powerbomb is).

I initially read Do A Powerbomb in monthlies, and it was perilous – seriously hazardous to my health. I ripped into every single issue like an ultramarathoner tearing into a king-sized Snickers. Every issue had stapled into it a mind-bending WTF moment, making the wait time for the subsequent installment interminable. I’d find myself dazed, distant – “Is this seasonal depression?” I thought, but no! I was just jonesing for the next installment of Do A Powerbomb. If you haven’t read Do A Powerbomb yet, you should be ashamed of yourself but grateful because trade-waiting on this one is way safer. You can just lean into the natural momentum of the story without the whiplash of having to slam into another agonizing 4-week wait. 

Do A Powerbomb

Lona Steelrose has the fire – that ineffable drive a wrestler needs to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Yua Steelrose was the greatest of all time, the Tokyo Grand Heavyweight Champion of the World nine times over. She was beloved, an icon, and ready to defend her title for the tenth time when her rival, the Canadian luchador Cobrasun, fumbled his signature move, dropping Lona’s mother and killing her. Since then, Lona has been fighting for her dream of becoming just like her mom with no one in her corner. Despite her dedication and raw talent, no one will train her. At first, she thinks it is a pall over her mother’s legacy, but then discovers that her father, who will hardly talk to her, has been undermining her behind her back. Frustrated, Lona has nowhere else to turn until a necromancer from outer space makes a compelling offer – win a tournament, and he’ll bring her mother back. 

Once Cobrasun and Lona Steelrose accept the necromancer’s invitation to fight in the universal Deathlyfe Tag Team Tournament to bring Lona Steelrose back from the dead, they quickly discover that each team has someone they’re fighting for, and there will be no punches pulled. No fakery, only fury. Their first match as Sun and Steel is against Oragabang from the Jungle Planet of Boro. And, before you ask, yes, they are eight-foot tall, ruddy apes with the power of speech and a killer finishing move, but they are also siblings who are desperate to resurrect their sister. The contest between primates is harrowing. You will be flinching as feet and fists explode from the page. Johnson, who has already proven himself an extraordinarily dynamic and demonstrative artist, has fully leveled up with Do A Powerbomb. He’s immersed himself in the frenetic flair of pro wrestling and translated perfectly to the panel, and Mike Spicer’s colors jolt it to life. Your teeth will chatter as Cobrasun takes a flying dropkick to the face, and Lona’s Moonsault will leave you breathless.

I was a kid in the 90s, a time when pro-wrestlers like Hollywood Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage were weirdly ubiquitous, and I found it really odd that people would go to a stadium and cheer at a match with a predetermined victor. Were they confused? Were they being tricked? It was the ‘kayfabe’ of it all – the idea that the wrestlers would not admit directly to the fiction. It felt disingenuous. That childish misunderstanding callused into a complete dismissal. Like, because it was grown-ups playing pretend it somehow didn’t mean anything. Do A Powerbomb was an emotional sweep of the leg, leaving me on my ass in tears apologizing for how totally wrong I was.

Do A Powerbomb

Before what turns out to be her final fight, Yua professes her purpose to her adoring, wrapped audience, “I fight for my family, I fight for my daughter! I fight for my lover!” She tells her fans, “You are my family too.” Cobrasun, being a typical heel, scoffs at her earnestness, “It’s not about love or family, or adulation. It’s about power! Status! Money! And most of all… it’s about that!” he insists, pointing to the champion belt. Daniel Warren Johnson has me questioning the entire function of outcomes, like, do they even matter? The fundamental delusion may be the satisfaction of knowing who the winners and losers are. I know the end of this comic book, but I do not want to spoil it for you other than to tell you that it will utterly subvert your expectations and invite you to question everything.

Verdict: BUY

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