It’s Wrestlemania week, boys and girls, and the 34th wrestling extravaganza emanates this year from New Orleans, Louisiana. As has been custom for the past year or so, BOOM! Comics has released a special edition of its WWE comic, this time tied directly to the Show of Shows. As hyped as wrestling fans around the world are about seeing their favorite Superstars step into the ring on the Grandest Stage of Them All, will they be as hyped about this year’s WWE Wrestlemania 2018 Special? Who will be featured as a central figure in the half-kayfabe, half-real life stories that grace the pages of the comic? Who? Who? Who? Let’s take a tope con hilo into this year’s issue.
There are four separate stories in this special, each focusing on a different Wrestlemania match or moment. “You Can Hate Me Now” is the backstage/kayfabe story of WrestleMania XXVII — which was in Atlanta with yours truly in attendance — and the WWE Championship match between John Cena and The Miz. It is essentially an action comic, telling the story of a decent match ending with future President Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson interfering, planting Cena with a Rock Bottom, and allowing the hated Miz a victory. The art, by Michel Mulipola, is fine, doing its job in telling the in-ring story. Just like the original match, however, there isn’t much of a story there. Julien May did fine with the material, but that match wasn’t one for the history books, save the blatant interference.
Story two and three both feature Macho Man Randy Savage. The first, “When a Macho Man Loves a Woman,” is a continuation of the story from several specials ago about the feud between Savage and The Ultimate Warrior, which culminated at Wrestlemania VII. As in the previous issue, this comic is particularly insane, showing Warrior at his Pillow Buddy-eating best, and Savage spurning the evil Sensational Sherri and reuniting with his first love, Miss Elizabeth. Then they go to a theme park. It’s crazy, but a lot of fun. Ryan Ferrier does a lot to bring the craziness of the 1980s WWF to life and Kendall Goode’s art fits the piece nicely. The other piece featuring Savage is “Iron Sharpens Iron,” which tells the story of the WrestleMania III bout between Macho Man and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. This match is considered to be one of the best technical matches ever put on in the 33 year history of Wrestlemania. Seriously, if you’re reading this and haven’t seen this match, go now and watch it. It is a clinic. I was eight or nine at the time and was so convinced that Savage had destroyed Steamboat’s trachea (not that I knew what that really was) in a previous fight, that I had no doubt the villainous Macho Man would prevail. Writer Lan Pitts tells the story of the match itself as if it were a 1970s Kung Fu flick and it totally works. Jake Elphick’s art takes a minute to get used to — neither Savage nor Steamboat are portrayed accurately — but, again, it just works in context.
The final story is a take-it-or-leave-it for me: “The Authority Wears Prada.” It is essentially Stephanie McMahon, current Commissioner of Raw and performer at this year’s Mania, partnering with her husband Triple H against the team of Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey, telling an intern why she’s the queen bee in WWE. It ends with her dressed for Triple H’s entrance at WrestleMania XXXII vs now perennial main eventer, Roman Reigns. It’s fine for what it is, but I am about six years over Stephanie’s on-screen character and don’t really care much about this story. Not a dig on writer Tini Howard or artist Rodrigo Lorenzo at all. Just at Stephanie McMahon. A character who finally has an opponent able to slap her back this year. I digress.
One other thing that bugs me about this comic is the subpar cover art, including the incentive variants. The main cover is an odd mixture of photo-realistic portraits of Savage, Steamboat, Cena, and then Edge and Jeff Hardy, who aren’t included in the book. And a ladder. And part of the gospel choir that Cena had for his entrance at Mania 27. The first variant is Kevin Nash and Scott Hall of the nWo standing over a war room map of some sort — again, no connection to the actual book, and the final is the surprise return of The Hardy Boyz from last year’s Mania. This cover is actually pretty bad. I try not to pick on subject matter for covers, since they’re solicited so far in advance, but the actual art in the Hardyz incentive cover is just bad.
In the end, is this comic WrestleMania-worthy? Eh? Probably not. Except for the honestly funny “Savage goes to Wally World” section, this one’s destined to be future endeavored.