REVIEW: WWE Superstars #1

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Here at Stately Spoilers Manor East (known also as “my divan”), I have one rule about comics: “Let’s read some!”  When I heard that the WWE would be making another run at comic book incarnations of their heels and faces and tweeners (OH MY!), I was skeptical.  But when I heard the writing would be by beloved Hall Of Famer Mick “Cactus Jack/Mankind/Dude Love” Foley, I knew this would be a series I’d have to check out.  How does it stack up?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

SUMMARY

Pros
Seriously excellent art.
Some fun meta jokes embedded in the premise.

Cons
A massive cast, which will probably only get larger.

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

READER RATING!

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WWE1CoverWWE SUPERSTARS #1
Writer: Mick Foley w/Shane Riches
Artist: Alitha Martinez
Colorist: Jay Jay Jackson
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Editor: Jim Salicrup
Publisher: Super Genius Comics/Papercutz
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in WWE Superstars: Please be aware that there’s no need to make snide remarks about whether or not wrestling is real.  It’s the year 2013, people, we need some new material.  Instead, imagine a corrupt city, run by a corrupt family named McMahon, where no one is safe from the reach of crime and nefariousness.  And one good cop, John Cena, has spent a year in jail for a crime he didn’t commit.  What will he do on the day he gets out?

IT’S SORTA LIKE CASABLANCA, ONLY WITH FAMILIAR FACES IN NEW ROLES…

The issue opens with Cena in jail, being grilled by Triple H, who is identified as “heir to the throne” of Titan City, about the whereabouts of the money that Cena supposedly stole one year previous.  It’s a shopworn premise, but one that actually works within the confines of the story being told.  To take the larger-than-life personalities shown by the various superstars and factions and tie them into this larger world (Cena’s cellblock is overseen by Zeb Colter, while his former partner is the man called Christian) is pretty ingenious overall.  When things go sour, Cena ends up in the midst of a beat-down, allowing him to show off his trademark wrestlings moves.  (More on that in a moment.)  Elsewhere in the city, the candidates for District Attorney, Alberto Del Rio and Randy Orton, are being interviewed by Miz TV in the new recreation center, which happens to have a wrestling ring squarely in the middle of it all.  Mick Foley knows his stuff in terms of character, setting everything in a vaguely realistic comic-type world, with CM Punk as an urban vigilante who wants to save the oppressed denizens of the city from jerks like Triple H, Orton and Del Rio.

SOME FINE LOOKIN’ ART IN HERE.

Visually speaking, this comic’s art is first-rate, not only managing to deliver a good comic book experience, but making most everyone, from The Undertaker to members of The Shield recognizable and interesting, and the action sequences good, especially one featuring The Big Show and CM Punk.  Of course, the Big Show sequence revives my issue with the use of wrestling moves in the course of the story works against the realism that the storytellers are trying to build, as Show’s chokeslamming Bray Wyatt’s thugs onto concrete would have easily been fatal to the victim, a problem with several of the signature moves depicted in-story.  Of course, the real fun is in seeing the superstars of the WWE recast as the people of Titan City, as cops, mafiosi and such (with Undertaker as the owner of a Tattoo parlor who doesn’t get involved in the ongoing battles much anymore taking the cake for meta statements.)  If you’re a fan of the WWE superstars, it’s fun.  Sadly, if you’re not  familiar, this issue is a parade of characters, which could easily be overwhelming to the new reader.

THE BOTTOM LINE: ODDLY COMPELLING, BUT A BIT ‘INSIDE BASEBALL.’

Given the crossover between fandoms, I don’t hesitate to think there are many people for whom this issue will work as well for as it did for me.  There are elements of noir and crime comics in play, but the material in the back hints at superhero trappings with Punk’s vendetta and the presence of Rey Misterio in the shadows, but the sprawling cast could make things very difficult to follow very quickly (especially if somebody gets released in the next few weeks.)  In short, WWE Superstars #1 is a remarkable achievement, plucking characters from their sports-entertainment setting and creating a compelling (and wonderfully drawn) world around them, with the main caveat being that knowledge of the source material is necessary for appreciating the issue, earning a better than average 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.  I had fun with this story, and it seems like the creative team did, too…

Rating: ★★★½☆