Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia (Suspicious Behavior Productions)
Written by: Ed Kuehnel and Matt Entin
Art: Dan Schkade
Colours: Marissa Louise
Professional Wrestling is the King of Sports.
I know this because the New Japan Pro Wrestling Lion tells me this.
Only Wrestling is Real
I know this because the Atomic Elbow Magazine tells me this.
The Matt Masters and Grand Grapplers of Planet Earth may not full appreciate the truthfulness of this statement but the ring warriors of distant world of Wrestletopia are locked in a cycle of never ending combat vying for the greatest prize of them all, the Galactic Championship.
The year is 1984 as this first issue of the Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia opens up. We are introduced to hot shot villain Rock and Roll Rory Landell. Rory’s star is on the rise and he has just one goal in mind, becoming the next American Wrestling Federation World Heavyweight Champion.
But Rory Landell is a self professed dude with a bad attitude and the championship gold that he covets eludes him. Undeterred, he sets his sights higher, all the way to the Heavens in fact.
He disrupts a backstage interview to open up his robe and reveal that he is now the undefeated, undisputed Galactic Champion of the Universe!
Rory should’ve known better than to make a claim so bold, so audacious without taking a moment to think about his audience.
Not the thousands of people in attendance at the arena.
Not the millions of people watching in their homes or on a closed circuit broadcast.
He should’ve known the eyes and ears of the Wrestletopian Empire were watching and listening.
And they’re not happy. Not happy at all!
The premise for this story presumably starts with the very real question which I am sure keeps you all awake at night much as it does myself.
The vexing question is, how can there be a WWE claim to have had a Universal Champion since mid 2016 if said Championship isn’t even defended in Space, let alone in another star system or a different galaxy?
The Suspicious Behavior Studios team combines mad cap comedy, affectionate parody and science fiction in this first issue of Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia.Writers Ed Kuehnel and Matt Entin are clearly devotees of the King of Sports. Together they have crafted a world which is filled with the tricks, tropes, cliches and combat of professional wrestling. We see the larger than life conflict between heroic Boy Scout Bob Schultz and Rock and Roll Rebel Rory Landell contrasted with backstage politicking and problematic promoters. The dialogue captures the hyperbole of wrestling commentary and interview segments perfectly.
The supporting cast is fleshed out with tributes to many characters which will be instantly recognisable to fans of the WWF’s 1980s heyday such as backstage interviewed Mean Gene Okerlund or the legendary commentary team of Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse ‘the Body” Ventura.
Artist Dan Schkade, who we saw a few years back working alongside legendary creator Matt Wagner on the Spirit for Dynamite, brings the world to life combining action sequences with design which captures the “turned up to 11” over the top aesthetics of 1980s American pro wrestling. His wrestlers are athletic and muscular without being hulking or grotesque. Expressive faces help tell the story along with a keen eye for panel design which echoes presentation and production values of a wrestling program.
Colourist Marissa Louise is a definite unsung hero of this book. You’ve probably seen her work recently on books like Milk Wars from DC / Young Animal and Spell on Wheels from Dark Horse. Louise’s mixes bold, powerful colours to help reinforce the out of this world over the top tone of the story and the art.
This 36 page oversized first issue is an absolute treat full of lighthearted action and humour. The writers have tongue firmly planted in cheek and much of the humour is based in a loving parody of wrestling characters and stories but that won’t stop it from appealing to fans and non fan alike.
So grab your favourite pair of Zubaz paints, strap on your fanny pack, snap into a Slim Jim and prepare yourself for the coming of Planet Wrestletopia.
While you’re at it check out our review of Legend of Mariposa – the Sons of Justice for more great wrestling action.