We’re mere days away from the show of shows, the granddaddy of them all, the showcase of the immortals–WrestleMania! To celebrate, BOOM! Studios has released the WWE WrestleMania 2017 Special, an annual-like compilation of five mini stories, most covering pivotal moments in WrestleMania history. The main WWE comic series has been fantastic thus far, but how about this special? Is it good?
WWE WrestleMania 2017 Special (BOOM! Studios)
As this collection is composed of five unconnected stories, it’s probably best to break them down one by one:
The first story, "Ladder Match," is written by Box Brown, drawn by Jorge Corona, and focuses on Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon’s iconic ladder match at WrestleMania X–the first ladder match in WrestleMania history, and one of the first ladder matches in WWE history period. Interestingly, for such a groundbreaking moment in WWE history, the comic takes a comedic look at it, pointing out the absurdity in some of HBK and The Bad Guy’s thought processes during the match. This combined with the very cartoony artwork made for a very entertaining story–possibly the best of the bunch. I laughed out loud at a few points, including when Razor Ramon lamented his curiosity in flooring.
"The Long Con"
"The Long Con" focuses on the forgotten main event of WrestleMania X-8, forever overshadowed by the iconic Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock mega match that preceded it. Writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Dan Mora delve into the backstory of Triple H vs. Chris Jericho–and if you were watching wrestling back then, you know the story was a little contrived. This story pokes a little fun at that, but it also manages to tie Triple H and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley’s reign of terror in the early 2000s to their modern day position as The Authority, which was an interesting touch.
"The New Day’s Optimistic Odyssey, Part 3"
The main WWE series has been closed out by backup stories featuring the New Day traveling across space and time in their New Day-lorean, visiting pivotal moments in WWE history and beyond. This special continues the story with Part 3, by writer Ross Thibodeaux and artist Rob Guillory, wherein the New Day visit Madusa after her unceremonious dumping of the WWE Women’s Championship in the garbage on WCW Monday Nitro, Kane reading a nice book on pyromancy in his living room, and Bray Wyatt enjoying his rocking chair. It’s easily the most forgettable of the five stories in the special, but thanks in no small part to Rob Guillory’s artwork, it is not without its charm. Thibodeaux has a good read on the New Day’s characteristics as well, so it reads well even if it doesn’t have much gravitas.
"You’re Good, But…"
Aubrey Sitterson (who hosts an excellent wrestling podcast named Straight Shoot–check it out) tackles, in my opinion, one of the best stories WWE has told in modern history: Daniel Bryan’s rise to the top of the company. Along with artist Kendall Goode, they take us from the early days of Daniel training to become a wrestler, all the way through his success on the indies, his pairing with The Miz on the dreadful game show version of NXT, to his winning of the main event of WrestleMania XXX to become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Daniel Bryan is unquestionably one of my favorite wrestlers of all time, so reading any retelling of this story is liable to give me goosebumps. There were some omissions in the story that I would imagine would have made it very hard to follow if you weren’t already familiar with the story (wait, Orton is suddenly champion? He wasn’t even in the match?), but as this special is a celebration of all things WWE, I’d wager a bet that most people reading this comic are very familiar. This story also featured probably my favorite artwork in the special–emotive, realistic, and generally well drawn.
"The Kevin Owens Comic"
Closing out the special is "The Kevin Owens Comic," by Andy Belanger and Andrew Stott, focusing on the never-ending rivalry between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Centered around the Intercontinental Championship ladder match at last year’s WrestleMania 32 (which, funnily enough, neither person actually won), we’re taken to flashbacks of their parallel careers that brought them to this point, and see just how much of a jerk Kevin always was to his smaller pal. Owens and Zayn are both (hopefully) destined for great things in WWE, so this was a fun way to close out the comic, with clever writing and nice artwork. There was no real resolution, but I guess that’s the point. Fight forever!
Is It Good?
If you’re a WWE fan and you don’t buy this book, you’re doing it wrong. This is a celebration of all things WWE and specifically WrestleMania, and that’s exactly what’s on every wrestling fan’s mind this week.