Regular listeners to our podcasts might recall that I love me some pro-wrestling. I’ve been a fan most of my life and I enjoy it for the same sort of escapism entertainment that action movies and superhero comics offer. With the recent release of WWE Heroes #1 and WrestleMania 26 taking place this weekend, I thought I would take a moment to ponder some of the memorable crossovers between pro-wrestling and comics. So know your role, walk that aisle and check out this Smackdown filled edition of The Nerdy Dozen.
In a rarity for this list, this web-comic gets a mention mostly because it actually focuses a lot on in-ring action as the story deals with a group of female wrestlers battling their way up the ranks in the wrestling biz. While there aren’t any of your favorite wrestling superstars involved with the matches, kudos to the creators for involving actual wrestling in a comic about wrestlers. So while you’ve got wrestling on the brain, check out the official site for Rival Angels.
Sadly this was a very short-lived feature of the WWE’s Kids Magazine, as the company ended up dropping it pretty quickly. But still, it’s John Byrne drawing a comic about Matt and Jeff Hardy in outer space and that’s just not something you see everyday.
Well…not really. The on again, off again series 10th Muse has been thru several publishers and has also featured several celebrity spokesmodels who share similar features of the title character. In 2000, the model for the character was supposed to be former WWE Women’s Champion and 3 time Playboy cover model Rena “Sable” Mero. The comics really had nothing to do with her or wrestling but having this on the list did let me mention Marv Wolfman, wrestling and Playboy in the same post.
Writer Mike Kingston and illustrator Randy Valiente are the creators for this series published by Visionary Comics and just like Rival Angels, it follows the story of someone trying to break into the wrestling business. As an added bonus the WWE’s own Jerry “the King” Lawler provides cover art for some of the issues. Sadly I have not seen or read enough of this to rank it any higher, but given the positive buzz and previews it seems this is a good example of how comics really can tell any type of story when given the chance.
Sting was one of my favorites when I was a kid. He wore face paint and was a wild and crazy hero that often said and did things that made little or no sense. But in a scene from the WCW comic series published by Marvel back in the early 90’s, perhaps he makes a little too much sense. The scene takes place in a hospital as the Stinger is paying a visit to a sick child in the hopes of cheering up his ailing fan. In what was an otherwise ridiculous comic series the creators choose to take some time to let the kids know that even Sting has his limitations. Who ordered this dose of reality? Couldn’t he have at least offered to hit an extra Stinger Splash for him or something?
7) The Undertaker stays true to the gimmick.
In 1999 Chaos Comics had a series featuring the Undertaker and some connected characters from the WWE (then the WWF) that ran 14 issues (0-13). This tale took characters like Taker, Mankind, Kane and Paul Bearer through a story that had them battling for 3 books from Hell. Instead of being from Death Valley or even Parts Unknown, in this story the Undertaker is actually from Hell and is trying to recover the books as part of his job there. Somehow this leads to action both in and out of the WWF ring and involves all sorts of magic and demons. Talk about taking your gimmick a bit too far…
6) Saga of the Von Erich Warriors
In this hard to find comic from the glory days of WCCW (that features Kevin, Kerry and Fritz) the Von Erich are kidnapped by an alien race to aid them in an intergalactic war because they admire their fighting style. No seriously, I am not kidding that is the plot of the comic. For a better look at this comic, check out this wrestling comics blog.
I have sadly never actually seen or had the joy of reading this issue or any of this series but the contents are the stuff of legend. In what is described as a mostly text free story you see several images that many people might label as disturbing. At least if you consider the Ultimate Warrior and Santa Claus “battling” in various states of undress and a shirtless Santa chained to a wall “disturbing”. I would have posted this during Christmas but I didn’t want to ruin the holiday for anyone. As an added note, the Warrior is fittingly credited as the writer for his own comic series.
I have never read this issue or any of this series published by Valiant Comics in 1991 and honestly that is a little depressing. The reason for my sadness? It features a story written by Jim Shooter and drawn by Steve Ditko that features Rowdy Roddy Piper, the Ultimate Warrior and the Undertaker. If you also have not read this book, go back and read that last sentence again and share in my sadness.
In the opening text we are told that not only is Kevin Nash a legend but that our future (the book was written in 1999 and is set in 2023) would have no hope without him. Before this comic is even at the half way point, Nash has saved a little kid, blown a guy’s head off and nailed a hot chick. This comic (a copy of which is hanging on the wall of my office) does not lessen my fandom towards Kevin Nash it actually increases it, plus his hair looks fantastic.
In 1985 professional wrestler Sgt. Slaughter became the first person (and one of two South Carolina natives) to be immortalized as a member of GI Joe. His membership on the team would include several action figures, appearances in the animated series, a featured role in GI Joe: The Movie and of course the comic series by Marvel Comics. All of that is so awesome that I am willing to completely overlook his traitorous heel turn for WrestleMania 7.
Professional wrestling star Raven and comic book writing star Brian Azzarello co-wrote this tale of Crusher Hogan, the man Peter Parker famously defeats in his first appearance as Spider-man. But this story is not at all about Pete or their match; instead it tells us what lead up to that moment for Crusher and the struggling wrestling organization he worked for. The results of their writing and the artwork by Giuseppe Camuncoli is a great comic set in the wrestling world that just happened to lead to the debut of Peter Parker as a masked adventurer. This is one of the best Spidey stories not featuring Spider-man I have ever read.
Now I am not saying that these comics are the best there is, the best there was or the best there ever will be…and I’m not going to tell you this list is full of icons, showstoppers or main events…but that was my Nerdy Dozen for wrestling related comics. What’s yours?