Advance Review – Three Decades Of WWE’s Phenom In Undertaker: Rise Of The Deadman OGN

by Brendan M. Allen

The Dead Man. The Phenom. The legend who dominated Sports Entertainment for over twenty-five years. For the first time, the unrivaled career of The Undertaker is chronicled in an original graphic novel from WWE and BOOM! Studios. Author Chad Dundas (Champion Of The World) teams with illustrator Rodrigo Lorenzo (WWE) for the definitive tale of one of WWE’s greatest Superstars. 

Few performers in the WWE’s 56 year history have even come close to the cult icon status of The Undertaker. Since his debut at Survivor Series 1990 as “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase’s mystery partner, Big Evil has racked up an insane number of main event pay-per-view matches, title runs, and memorable feuds. He is widely regarded by both fans and peers as one of the greatest wrestlers to ever lace up a pair of boots. It makes perfect sense that Mark Callaway’s alter ego would be the subject of BOOM! Studios’ first WWE original graphic novel, Undertaker: Rise of the Deadman.

There are a few different ways to tackle WWE history. The Undertaker OGN falls squarely on the kayfabe side of the spectrum. While I wouldn’t have minded seeing Mark Callaway’s journey through CWA, WCCW, and WCW before landing in the WWE, this is a legit take. Chad Dundas does an admirable job tying together some of the inconsistencies and loose ends in the decades-spanning storyline.

I do have a couple issues with the artwork that have nothing to do with quality. All of the contributing artists are extremely skilled. Most of the likenesses are good, they’re just done in wildly varying styles. The first couple chapters are nailed down by Rodrigo Lorenzo, then chapters 3 and 4 are handled by six different illustrators. The tags in and out sometimes take place right in the middle of a sequence, which is visually jarring and breaks continuity.

There was a time in the 90’s when the WWE was trotting out all kinds of “occupational” gimmicks including a baseball pitcher, a garbage man, a race car driver, an accountant, a hockey player, a plumber, and a dentist. None of them stood the test of time. There’s no way the anachronistic wrestling mortician gimmick should have lasted out the year, let alone twenty eight and counting.

Undertaker: Rise of the Deadman is a highly entertaining (kayfabe) look back at the evolution of one of the most revered performers in WWE history. Multiple time WWE and World Heavyweight Champion, six time Tag Team title holder, winner of a Royal Rumble, innovator of the Casket Match and the Buried Alive match, participant in the first ever Hell in a Cell, and now the dude’s got his own graphic novel.

 

WWE: The Undertaker OGN, BOOM! Studios, releases 31 October 2018. Written by Chad Dundas, Illustrated by Rodrigo Lorenzo, chapter 3 illustrated by Edu Menna and Serg Acuna, chapter 4 illustrated by Kelly Williams, Travis Hymel/Tim Lattie, Kendall Goode, and Serg Acuna, colors by Weslei Manoel with Vladmir Popov and Doug Garbark, letters by Deron Bennett, and cover by Oliver Barrett.

Brendan M. Allen

Brendan Allen has probably had more jobs than you would reasonably believe. Dog trainer? He’s done it. Flooring contractor? You bet! EMT? Army NBC specialist? Road dog for a Celtic rock band? Yes, yes, and och aye! Now he reads comics and writes about them. It's a rough gig. You can follow Brendan on Twitter @SaintAmish where he mostly tweets about comic books and cystic fibrosis awareness.

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