It's seconds out as Susan Omand reads the first two issues of Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia thanks to Suspicious Behavior Productions...
I know next to nothing about American wrestling. Don’t get me wrong, I know that it’s still a thing, I know who Macho Man Randy Savage was (thanks mainly to Matt “Money” Smith and Adam Rank on the That Helps No-one segment of NFL Fantasy Live) and I know that the WWE/F/E/F/E isn’t about pandas but that’s about it, so it was with some trepidation that I stepped into the ring to face off against the first two issues of Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia written by Ed Kuehnel and Matt Entin.
I needn’t have worried, the comics had me hooked from the start. Issue 1, A Date With Destiny, sets the stage for the oncoming story incredibly well, with a wrestling pay-per-view TV show from the 1980s being accidentally picked up in the year 1999 by a passing space-ship – it was a nice touch by the way to have the caption Space, 1999 at the start! Unfortunately for Earth, the space-ship was from the planet Wrestletopia and the broadcast showed “Rock N Roll” Rory Landell at the height of his career, claiming to be Galactic Champion, with a pizza box attached to his belt, after being told by his manager that he was going to lose out on the real AWF World Championship belt because the promoters wanted to make wrestling more “family friendly.” Needless to say, the Wrestletopians take this as a challenge and Issue 2, ominously entitled Two Worlds Enter, One Leaves, tells us how they all react, as well as filling in some of the backstory of our hero Rory and his manager both before and after that fateful broadcast.
These comics are just so much fun! Yes, the plot may be a little cliched, ripped from every 80s action film you can think of, and the wrestling characters are as over-the-top as you’d expect them to be but there’s still a lot of heart behind the story of a faded star who has to bring his ‘A’ game back to save the world. The characters are all highly engaging, ticking all the right boxes by balancing their egotistical personas with a lot of down-to-earth scenarios, and the dialogue is so brilliantly written that I could actually hear them speaking the words in my head as I read. There’s also a lot of attention to detail and neat touches in the story-boarding which helps to round out the characters to be more than the one-dimensional figures they could have been and that depth of development is a very tricky thing to achieve, especially in just a couple of comics issues.
However a comic is just a short story without the artwork and Dan Schkade, aided by the colouring expertise of Marissa Louise, lettering from A Larger World Studios and the design prowess of Fred Chao, makes this comic looks just as great as it reads, adding to the comedy factor with some superb character expressions and making the fight scenes seem just as much fun on the page as they are on the TV. They are all definitely worthy of their “wrestler names” in the comic’s credits (nicknames which, incidentally, are different from issue to issue and gave me the giggles).
So, no, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know your closet-champion from your curtain-jerker (thanks Adam Rank!) because, although these comics are based in the wrestling domain, they’re not about wrestling. Instead it’s the age-old human story of Rory Landell facing up to his past, conquering his demons, beating the aliens and (hopefully!) living up to his title of Galactic champion.
Oh, and I now want a wrestling name. Suggestions, please.
You can buy Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia #1 and #2 at Comixology, ComixCentral or on Amazon (links below)
Images - Suspicious Behavior