Boom! Studios Takes On ‘The Granddaddy Of Them All’ – WWE WrestleMania Special #1
by Brendan M. Allen
The biggest event in Sports Entertainment returns to comics! This jam-packed special includes stories about the Kane/Undertaker clash at Wrestlemania 20, Asuka and Charlotte Flair’s battle at Wrestlemania 34, and more!
Just in time for WWE’s flagship pay-per-view, WWE Wrestlemania 2019 Special #1 delivers four shorts centered around the annual spectacle. These one-shot specials usually cover iconic feuds from various points in WWE history, but half of this book is dedicated to Wrestlemania 34. With a different creative team on each story, the results vary.
In Queen vs. Empress, Bill Hanstock and Hyeonjin Kim team up to rehash the feud between Charlotte Flair and Asuka centered around last year’s event, Wrestlemania 34. Hanstock puts us inside both women’s heads, providing motivation and first person narration. Interesting approach, but not really much new ground being covered here. The strength of this piece is really in Kim’s line work. Likenesses are hard to hit. Kim nails the facial features, sure. The harder part is often in body shapes, ambulation, expression. All spot on.
Destruction of Brothers takes a much more comic book superhero take on The Undertaker and Kane’s meeting at Wrestlemania XIV. The Undertaker is one of the WWE’s longest standing gimmicks. That being said, his kayfabe origin story has been retconned more time than Bruce Wayne’s. Andrew Stott and Andy Bellanger flesh out the prevailing ‘Taker storyline from 1998, where his long lost brother who was presumed dead shows up in the WWE to challenge Big Evil to a vendetta match. This was not my favorite storyline at the time, and it’s still a little weird for me now. The flashback vignettes don’t really add much to the material we already saw on-screen.
King Without a Crown is a second story about Wrestlemania 34, focusing on Shinsuke Nakamura’s preparation leading up to his title shot against AJ Styles. Lan Pitts tells most of the story from Shinsuke’s introspective viewpoint. Serg Acuna’s work on the WWE ongoing was spectacular, and he demonstrates his unique flair for the material here.
I’m Sorry. I Love You. is a brilliant choice to wrap this year’s annual special. Ryan Ferrier and Kendall Goode take a crack at Ric Flair’s retirement match against Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 24. Two of the biggest icons in the history of professional wrestling, longtime friends behind the scenes, giving everything they had in one of the hardest fought, emotional matches ever booked. Ryan Ferrier’s script comes primarily from Michaels’ perspective, showing the immense respect and love he has for the man across the ring. Kendall Goode’s style is a little more cartoony than my personal preference, and likenesses slip a little a few times, but the effect generally works for the material. The action is a little flat, and the characters aren’t always spot on, but the emotional weight of this moment is clearly on display.
As always with anthologies, mileage will vary. I found two of these chapters fantastic. The other two were passable, but not my favorite choices for material. It’s a little odd that half the pieces in this year’s annual are from the same event. I typically look for a larger sample size in a book like this, but the overall quality is definitely on par with the previous WWE anthologies by BOOM! Studios.
WWE Wrestlemania 2019 Special #1, BOOM! Studios, released 27 March 2019. Queen vs. Empress written by Bill Hanstock, illustrated by Hyeonjin Kim, color Wesllei Manoel, letters by Jim Campbell, The Destruction of Brothers written by Andrew Stott, illustrated Andy Belanger, color Lee Loughridge, letters by Serge Lapointe, King Without a Crown written by Lan Pitts, illustrated by Serg Acuna, color by Doug Garbark, letters by Jim Campbell, I’m Sorry, I Love You written by Ryan Ferrier, illustrated by Kendall Goode, letters by Jim Campbell, cover by Rahzzah, Undertaker Wrestlemania 100 pre-order cover Xermanico, Rousey vs. Bliss unlocked retailer variant cover by Marco D’Alfonso.