Imagine a universe where the dominant empire was made up entirely of the most dynamic, colorful characters who have ever graced our television screens. Vivid masks, costumes, and facepaint are their everyday fashion, German suplexes and Camel Clutches are their weapons. These overly muscled, testosterone-filled aliens rule the cosmos with an Iron Claw. They are the luchadores of the cosmos, brother, and they are looking for the human who dares call himself the Champion of the Galaxy.
Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia is a rock-and-roll romp through an intergalactic challenge begun with a booking change and a pizza box. “Rock and Roll” Rory Landell learns he is not winning the championship title he is promised and debuts a belt made from a Galaxy Pizza box on live PPV as he quits. This transmission makes its way through space to the planet Wrestletopia, a perfect world, ruled by those who can take power in their arms and make their enemies tap out. The leader, Manifest Destiny, has built a steel cage around the Earth and is searching for the now obscure, failed grappler. Meanwhile, a rival faction is vying for the title, hoping to stop Landell — or any human — before he can reach the champion.
Writers Ed Kuehnel and Matt Ettin, along with artist Dan Schkade, have created a world where the art of kayfabe is still real to everyone, dammit. Throughout the book we are swamped by the fully formed 1980s wrestling world they have created, complete with ridiculous, over-the-top characters, gimmicks that defy reason, and the vaguely racial jingoism that were the hallmarks of the era. Some of the characters are obvious rips of real wrestlers, brother, but others are just the logical extension of gimmicks where these pros also somehow held other jobs (remember Repo Man?).
The art and color are vibrant and fun, reminiscent of the ’80s in general, but the real winner here is the creative team’s capture of the wacky universe they have built. As a wrestling fan who grew up in the Rock-and-Wrestling Era of the WWF, I instantly feel at home in the world. The fact that the Wrestletopians use the word “brother” constantly made me laugh out loud. A relic of the age, this word does represent the secret brotherhood of wrestlers, but has turned itself into a mockery of keeping it kayfabe and back into a term of endearment thanks to the current generation of sports entertainers who grew up in the same era, brother. Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia is a love letter to the idea of professional wrestling in all its ludicrous glory.