We’re going to BREAK IT DOWN across various eras of WWE in this softcover collection. Stories include DX’s infamous “invasion” of a certain southern wrestling program, a look at the rise of Asuka, The Must See Superstar, The Miz, main-eventing Wrestlemania, and more.
WWE Then. Now. Forever. Volume 3 spans decades of WWE programming, from the Classic Era through the Current Era. Some of the biggest personalities, the most bizarre angles, and the hottest feuds are represented by an absolute murderer’s row of creative talent. I’m not going to break down every piece, since there are approximately two hundred of them. Okay, sixteen. Close enough. It’s a big book. Let’s go over some of the standouts.
A Show of Hart is scripted by Michael Kingston. The story details Bret Hart’s journey from the undercard to the main event. If you’ve ever wondered what goes through a WWE Superstar’s head in the moments leading up to the match of their career, it’s probably some of this. Hitman mentally runs down just about every major stepping stone of his Hall of Fame career, leading all the way up to his non-televised World Heavyweight Championship win against Ric Flair on 12 October 1992 in Saskatoon.
Michel Mulipola pulls art duties, hitting likenesses pretty well, even aging and de-aging The Hitman, The Mouth of the South, and The Anvil for flashbacks. Special attention is paid to the evolution of Bret’s ring gear and his locker room traditions. Those four hearts that show up on Bret’s tights? They have a very personal meaning to the guy. The in-ring work looks a little static, but everything else is spot on.
Lan Pitts penned the script for King of the Bling. This one bugged me, almost instantly. It took me a few minutes to realize why. This story nailed down the vignettes we used to see in the eighties and nineties on WWE programming. I disliked it because it took me back to when I was twelve, and twelve year old me disliked both these cats back then. Pitts delivered these two heels precisely the way Ted Dibiase and Scott Hall would have performed The Million Dollar Man and The Bad Guy in this same setup. This actually would have been legendary. I’m a little surprised it never came to pass.
Art by Carlos Magno is a little more caricatured than my personal preference, but it works. The likenesses are obvious, and the action is brutal. This is basically a street brawl in a jewelry shop, where there is no shortage of glass to break and hard sharp objects to introduce to your opponent’s face and fleshy bits.
Behind Enemy Lines nods at the fallout of the infamous Curtain Call. The Kliq was a backstage group in the WWE that consisted of Scott Hall/Razor Ramon, Kevin Nash/Diesel, Shawn Michaels, Sean Waltman/Syxx/X Pac, and Triple H. Notorious for breaking kayfabe at MSG in May 1996, right before Hall and Nash defected to rival WCW, the scattered pieces of The Kliq would go on to form two of the best drawing stables in either company, WWE’s Degeneration X and WCW’s New World Order.
DX was basically Vince McMahon’s answer to the insanely popular nWo, at a time when both companies were liberally stealing storylines, gimmicks, and workers from each other. Ryan Ferrier and Kendall Goode take the nWo Invasion angle and mash it up with the DX copycat invasion to reunite the Kliq for a tense moment that could just as easily evolve into a brawl as a group hug.
I don’t know how I feel about this one. These fellas were still close friends at the time, so they probably would have had interactions away from the cameras at some point, but this one blurs the line between kayfabe and reality in an odd way.
Funeral For a Rattlesnake features a small chunk of the feud between WWE’s top two Attitude Era Superstars, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. On the 12 April 1999 episode of Monday Night Raw, The Brahma Bull attempted to murder the Rattlesnake by throwing him off a bridge. While most of us remember how this particular vignette played out, Aaron Gillespie adds a layer by giving us a first person perspective. Michel Mulipola nails the art in this chapter, from an iconic eyebrow to a certain redneck swagger.
The Three Faces of Foley throws a spotlight at the hardest worker of the era, Mick Foley. Mama Foley’s baby boy always gave everything he had to the business he obviously loves. Kevin Panetta uses one of the WWE’s current programming platforms as a vehicle to bring three of Mick’s alter egos into the same room. The dialogue works well for two of the characters, but one seems a little chattier than I remember. Domo Stanton’s linework is a little cartoony for some of the ultraviolence, but that actually kind of leans into the brilliantly multifaceted nature of Mick’s characters.
Women’s wrestling has gone through some interesting stages over the past several decades. The feud between Lita and Trish Stratus is a milestone that arguably paved the way for the current Women’s Evolution in the WWE. In Trish vs. Lita, Julian May and Hyeonjin Kim bring some of the key television moments leading up to Lita’s upset title victory on RAW, but don’t add a whole lot of depth to what we’ve already seen.
WWE: Then. Now. Forever. Volume 3 SC is a fun little trip down memory lane. The creative teams revisit some of the most iconic moments in WWE history, adding layers of depth and expanding storylines in ways that blur the lines between kayfabe and reality. I’m still kinda mad about that Dibiase piece. Ugh. That dude was the worst. Why was he so mean and rich?
WWE Then. Now. Forever. Vol. 3 SC, collects the Wrestlemania 2018 Special, the Attitude Era 2018 Special, and exclusive backups from the WWE ongoing, published by Boom! Studios, released 13 March 2019. Though She Be But Little, She Is Fierce written by Tini Howard, illustrated by Hyeonjin Kim. One True BFF written by Bill Hanstock, illustrated by Kendall Goode. Glorious written by Julian May, illustrated by Rodrigo Lorenzo, color by Doug Garbark. King Of The Bling written by Lan Pitts, illustrated by Carlos Magno, colored by Doug Garbark. Once Upon A Mountain written by Andrew Stott, illustrated by Andy Belanger, color and letters by Serge Lapointe. Iron Sharpens Iron written by Lan Pitts, illustrated by Jake Elphick, colored by Doug Garbark, Tales of the Swiss Cyborg written by Julian May, illustrated by Dozerdraws, color by Jeremy Lawson. The Authority Wears Prada written by Tini Howard, illustrated by Rodrigo Lorenzo, color by Doug Garbark. Eyes on the Prize written by Bill Hanstock, illustrated by Kendall Goode. Funeral for a Rattlesnake written by Aaron Gillespie, illustrated by Michel Mulipola, color by Matias Laborde. 3 Faces of Foley written by Kevin Panetta, illustrated by Dominike ‘Domo’ Stanton, color by Jeremy Lawson. The Royal Treatment written/illustrated by Derek Fridolfs, color by Fred C. Stresing. Trish vs. Lita written by Julian May, illustrated by Hyeonjin Kim, color by Jeremy Lawson. Behind Enemy Lines written by Ryan Ferrier, illustrated by Kendall Goode. A Show of Hart written by Michael Kingston, illustrated by Michel Mulipola, color by Matias Laborde. The Brain vs. The Bulldog written and illustrated by Brent Schoonover, color by Doug Garbark. Lettered by Jim Campbell. Cover by Rahzzah.