RETRO REVIEW: Nash #2 (August 1999)

by

Or – “Yes, I Have A Complete Run Of This, Too…  It Was The 90′s, Things Were Different.”

The life of a wrestling fan is a tough one, especially when you’re an overeducated sort like myself.  All too often your in-ring heroes turn out to be arrogant steroid cases, jock-assclown-types who make Stan Gable and the Alpha Betas look like the Algonquin Round table.  The stories of ‘Wrestler Court’ and backstage antics are nearly as awful as the fact that these poor athletes usually do what they do without healthcare or even being considered an employee of the companies they work for.  One of my great embarassments is the fact that one of my favorite wrestlers to watch is pretty much universally regarded by the wrestling cognescenti as awful.  (It could be worse…  I won’t even discuss what happened with Bruce’s favorite grapple from the old days.)  Even if he is nicknamed Big Lazy, even if he has gotten by on charm and manipulation, even if he only has six good moves in him, I still enjoy seeing Kevin Nash in action to this very day.  Back in the salad days of wrasslin’ crossover appeal, he even got a comic book of his own…

NASH #2
Writer: Kevin Nash/???
Penciller: ???
Inker: ???
Colorist: ???
Letterer:
Editor: ???
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $2.95 (Current Near-Mint Price – Check Your Local Quarter Bin)

Previously, on Nash:  In the beginning, there was Master Blaster Steel.  Then, came Oz, then Vinnie Vegas.  But when wrestler Kevin Nash defected from World Championship Wrestling to the mighty World Wrestling Federation in 1993, he became known as Diesel (aka Big Daddy Cool) and became WWF Heavyweight Champion in a period of great upheaval for the WWF and for the wrestling industry.  Kevin became known for two things:  His backstage politics and his seeming desire to get by with as little work as possible.  Returning to WCW in the mid 90′s, he became a central figure in the most popular wrestling angle in decades, the invasion of WCW by the New World Order (nWo.)  He became WCW champion in 1998, ending the undefeated streak of the mighty Goldberg, and by all accounts coasted his way through the big money years of wrestling on charm and a limited moveset.  In 1999, he and unknown accomplices (seriously, there are no credits to be found in this book) came up with the idea of writing his own comic book adventures, set in a dystopian future resembling Waterworld, Zardoz, and The Road Warrior rolled into a mush of stylistic influences.  Issue #1 shows Nash to be a legendary Robin Hood figure, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor starvinbg people of the plains, giving the smackdown to corruption and getting lots of future wasteland tail in the process.  As issue one came lurching to it’s horrifying close, Kevin was left near death after being shot in the back repeatedly.  This issue opens with the reveal that he (like the Brown Hornet before him) miraculously escaped UNHARMED!

Strangely enough, the villain called Trax (Ugh) bears a slight resemblance to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in some panels, although given the general skill of the unidentified art team, that may be entirely unintentional.  As for the answer of what the bad guy wants with him, Trax tells Kevin that “I WANT YOU DEAD!”  Which, now that he mentions it, makes no sense as he just SHOT Nash down in the street in what could easily have been a fatal moment.  But, if we worry about the dialogue not making sense on page 3, we’ll never make it to the end of the book, so just do what I’m doing:  Drink heavily, and press on.  Trax shoots down his own lackeys (since they work for the evil Reverend Parch, not for him) and warns Nash that their battle will have to wait, walking away into the desert like John Wayne.  Nash tells his outlaw friends that they are what the rich people in the domed cities fear, that they have the power to change everything and Kevin-Costner’s-speech-from-The-Postman-fishcakes.  Big Kev settles in to try and sleep with several of the native girls, but a giant floating city arrives (big drink), commanded by his ex-girlfriend.  Or something…

Eww.  That can NOT be sanitary.  Kevin says no deal, especially since her offer would involve turning his back on the common folk, teleports back to the shanty-town and beds down with THREE of the local girls.  An entire panel filled with the sound-effect equivalent of exaggerated porno moaning ensues, cutting straight to a half-naked girl pointing a gun at Nash’s head.  (The first issue had extended sex scenes also, and women commenting on how awesome in bed the main character was.  Seeing as how he co-wrote the book, though, that all comes across as more than a bit skeevy.)  She has killed the other two ladies, and is ready to off Big Kev himself when a local boy named Jared interrupts, giving Nash the chance to attack a woman literally 1/3 his size (although the artist or artists aren’t entirely consistent in their proportion, either.)

Proportion or not, they do like their computer coloring effects, don’t they?  It’s like he’s leaping out of a flaming can of Tang, the drink for astronauts!  I think the irony of the situation comes not in that they apparently had hours of hypersex wearing underwear, nor from the fact that the killer girlie resembles Uma Thurman for exactly one panel, but that he fell for such an obvious bait in the first place.  Robin Hood or no Robin Hood, our main character isn’t the sharpest bulb in the barrel.  Jared ends up being a hostage, while Nash tries tough-guy dialoguing his way out of the situation, sounding remarkably like Jules in ‘Pulp Fiction,’ but the girl isn’t buying, and she pulls the trigger as Nash gives a Big No predating Anakin Skywalker’s, but presumably with the same amount of audience disbelief and awkward discomfort…

Nash overpowers her, even with a bullet wound, and takes her gun, shooting her point blank in the chest.  “Good God, why is it so hard to KILL some people?  And others die so easily…”  Big Daddy Cool surveys the carnage, and realizes that the real culprit behind all this senseless death and violence is none other than the not-so-right Reverend Parch himself, and delivers a Scarlett O’Hara speech to the “camera” while clenching his meaty fist in rage…

TO BE CONTINUED!!!  Wanna bet?  12 years down the line and issue #3 has yet to materialize, for reasons that should be pretty clear:  This book sucked.  To quote the great sage Butthead, “It sucked and sucked and sucked, and then it was, like, OVER.”  I am a huge mark for Kevin, and I’m not ashamed to say that I own all the alternate covers of this series as well, but I’ve never even considered the thought that it would be considered good comics.  The art is inconsistent to the point where the main character never looks the same from panel to panel, but also NEVER ACTUALLY LOOKS LIKE THE MAIN CHARACTER.  The closest thing we get to costumes are featureless bodysuits with kneepads that would make the most dedicated Golden Age hack quiver with embarassment at the corners cut.  The script features dialogue lifted from tough guy movies of all genres (Issue #1 even has a whole SCENE lifted from Schwarzenegger’s ‘Commando.’) and the warmed-over plot is forgettable at best.

A lot of wrestling types had comics in the 90′s, most notably the Undertaker’s longish run from Chaos Comics, but Undertaker’s gimmick (his wrestling persona) is pretty much comic book material to begin with.  Kevin lacks the ‘Taker’s built-in emo cred, but his writing is somewhat saner than that of Jim Hellwig, whose ‘Warrior’ comics have actually been shown to cause seizures in laboratory mice.  I have scoured the intarwebz looking for information on other creators, but all the guilty parties have successfully covered their tracks on this one, allowin them to escape their just desserts for now.  Still, karma like this has a way of catching up with you eventually.  All in all, Nash #2 is the comic book equivalent of pork rinds:  Overcooked hunks of mostly inedible animal that somehow still managed to sell to people who seem to enjoy it on some level.  I honestly didn’t remember how soul-numbing this book was until I dragged it out of my collection, but by that time I’d done the image work and it was too late to stop.  Nash #2 gets .25 out of 5 stars, one for each second of his legendary (for all the wrong reasons) title defense against Hulk Hogan in January of ’99.

Rating: ½☆☆☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Undertaker, Chyna, Mankind, Stone Cold, The Warrior…   The Beatles, The Partridge Family, The Six Million Dollar Man.  Has there ever been a adaptation comic that was truly worth its salt?