The Superman Championship

Today at ComicsAlliance, I’ve posed a serious question to this year’s Eisner Award Nominees: Would you rather have your potential honor represented by this:



…or this:



Yes, it’s a custom-made Superman-styled wrestling championship belt, and it is awesome. The post at CA has a couple of other pictures (and a link to the makers’ gallery), as well as an estimated price that I need to start saving for sometime around 2006 if I’m going to have it by July.

WWE Heroes Is Not Very Good



It’s March 16, or 3/16, and for aging fans of the WWF Attitude Era, that means that it’s International Stone Cold Steve Austin Day, and in celebration, I’ve reviewed the newly released WWE Heroes #1.

You can probably figure out my feelings about the comic just from reading the headline, but for those of you who are curious about how I came to that conclusion, there are 1100 words plus visual aids waiting on the other side of the link. Suffice to say that the nicest thing I can say about it is that it does not have Kevin Nash’s sex face.

And that’s the bottom line, ’cause Chris Sims said so.

ComicsAlliance: Titan’s WWE Comics Will Most Likely Be Terrible



Most long-time ISB readers–say, anyone who reads the site on Fridays or those unfortunate enough to follow my twitter feed on Monday nights–know that along with comics and video games, pro wrestling has been one of the key interests of my increasingly misspent life, so when Titan Publishing announced they were putting out comics based on the WWE, I started getting emails wondering if I’d heard the news. I had, and today at ComicsAlliance, you can read my reaction to the news, though to be honest, you can probably get the gist of it from the title of this post.

Admittedly, this is a pretty strong example of judging a book by its cover–well, its cover and four interior pages that were provided specifically for the purposes of judging–and while it’s true that that cover does in fact feature the Undertaker fighting zombies, knights and leopardmen, there’s a good reason why I think this is going to be terrible:

Because with exactly one exception, every comic about professional wrestling is terrible.

For the sticklers among you, I’m referring specifically to American pro wrestling, as opposed to luchadores, which generally make comics way more awesome, and the Thing’s tenure in the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation doesn’t really count either.

Generally, as I say in the article, the problem is that stories of pro wrestling tend to be saddled with other things–eternal battles between Heaven and Hell that must, for some reason, be settled at the Royal Rumble or Kevin Nash’s post-apocalyptic sex face–that detract from the existing over-the-top characters that make pro wrestling fun. It’s clearly an attempt at making up for the difficulty in translating the entertaining physicality of pro wrestling to the comics page by substituting something that’s equally exaggerated. But while it’s easy to say that pro wrestling already has its own characters and bizarre mythology, it’s important to note that a comic came out based strictly on those, and that was terrible, too.

Of course, Marvel’s short-lived World Championship Wrestling was less terrible for its premise than for the fact that it was a bad comic, as evidenced by the fact that it was a comic where a man looked in a mirror…



…and saw a reflection that was wearing a completely different expression.

Admittedly, there was a strip slated for WWE Kids magazine by John Byrne about the Hardy Boyz going to space and fighting aliens on a starship called The Hammerlock that is ridiculously awesome



…but as it never actually ran (WWE Kids dropped their comics section and fired editor Paul Kupperberg after Byrne had completed two strips because “kids don’t read comics,” a position they seem to have flipped on in the meantime), I’m sticking with my statement that there is only one exception to the rule.

And that is this:



There are a few things that set this one apart from the other wrestling comics. For one, instead of focusing on the characters, this one takes a look at the business side of things, which–with its carnival roots, ingrained violence and a tradition of outright lying to the audience–is frequently seedy and often fascinating. And for another, it’s actually written by someone with an intimate knowledge of the subject: Brian Azzarello cowrote the story with Scott Levy, better known to wrestling fans as Raven, who no doubt drew on his own experiences in ECW to tell the story of a fledgling independent promotion that was slowly being strangled out of existence by a hated, but far more successful company.

It’s the diametric opposite of something like Hardys in Space or Big Apple Takedown–the hilarious novel about Triple-H, Chavo Guererro and John Cena being undercover NSA operatives that might as well have been called Vince’s Angels–but it’s also an amazingly solid comic that ranks as the best issue of Tangled Web not done by Darwyn Cooke.

WWE Heroes, however, doesn’t seem quite as promising, as a look through the article on ComicsAlliance ought to tell you. But hey, there’s an outside chance that I could be wrong–and I’ll admit I’m curious to see if leopardmen can, in fact, see John Cena–and if nothing else, we know one thing:

It’ll be nowhere near as bad as Warrior.

Dracula Week: Las Enseñanzas de El Santo



Normally, the ISB offers inspirational (and actual) quotes from the Ultimate Warrior as a public service to our readership so that they can reflect on his words and improve their lives. In honor of Dracula Week, however, we have turned the attention to the famous luchador philosopher El Santo, whose many battles against Dracula and the Vampire Women have become the stuff of legend.

At Last, My Dreams Have Been Realized

One of the benefits to having a moderately successful comics blog–actually, the only benefit, now that I think of it–is that after four years of daily updates, people start to get a handle on what I like, and every now and then, one of them will offer to send me something they think I’ll like.

And sometimes, it turns out to be one of the most ridiculously awesome things I’ve ever seen.



Case in point, a DVD of Slamtasia 2, a show put on in February by Inter-Species Wrestling.

Yes, Inter-Species. I’ll get to that in a moment.

As long-time ISB readers (and anyone who had the misfortune of sitting through the punishing Monday Night Raw live-blogging I did on Twitter and swore never to do again) may recall, Professional Wrestling ranks only slightly behind comics and video games in the Holy Trinity of my misspent youth adulthood. Still, as we’ve seen time and time again, comics and pro wrestling just weren’t meant to go together. But if there was some way to tie pro wrestling into one of my favorite aspects of comics–like, say, all those times where Batman and the Punisher have punched out gorillas and bears–then you might just have something.

Enter Mike “Llakor” Ryan, who was reading through the ISB archives when he hit the sentence about my desire to start “the world’s first all-bear cagefighting league” and rightly assumed that he had something I might want to see: A wrestling promotion that, among other things, involves a panda luchadore named El Hijo de Bamboo:



He is, of course, on a quest to avenge his murdered panda luchadore father.

See, Ryan’s the commissioner and ring announcer for ISW, a Canadian promotion with close ties to the similarly acronymed International Wrestling Syndicate, which the sharper marks out there will know as the company that gave us the greatest wrestler working today, El Generico, as well as Kevin Steen, who I recognized from a phenomenal match on Pro Wrestling Guerilla Sells Out, which is still the best wrestling-related purchase I’ve ever made. As a sort of mutant conjoined twin to IWS (to borrow Ryan’s phrasing), ISW draws from the same talent pool, except that instead of going head-to-head against each other in hardcore death-matches, they’re more likely to be squaring off against a vengeful panda or Moohammad, who is a cow that is also a terrorist, and–as we find out when he joins the commentary team for the second disc–talks just like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.



Not to put on The Old Man Hat here or anything, but one of the things I really miss about pro wrestling of my youth is the gimmicks. There was a time when the WWF expected us to believe that there was a man on their roster who may or may not be dead, but definitely drew mystical power from an urn carried by his obese, shrieking sidekick, or that a multimillionaire wrestled for the heck of it, or that the Ultimate Warrior was completely insane (kind of a freebie, that one), but they’ve slowly moved away from that. There are exceptions, of course–Santino Marella, for example, who has brought new life to the cross-dressing gimmick that Vince likes to drag out every few years–but by and large, WWE and TNA are pretty much just about two wrestlers-who-are-wrestlers beating each other up for some reason.

ISW, though, is the crystal meth of gimmick-themed wrestling. Slamtasia 2 isn’t just an event that asks you to believe that they’ve got a zombie on the payroll, but that there are two of them, and they are wrestling in a Body Bag Match. There’s a guy whose gimmick is that he’s homeless, and he goes so far as to pass his hat to collect change from the audience after his matches. And of course, there’s El Hijo de Bamboo, who is on the card wrestling Damian, a Quebec-Separatist Ex-Nazi whose moves are inspired by Tony Jaa, and who is the very same wrestler that killed his father:



Also of note, it’s the only wrestling event I’ve ever seen that takes place in a bar, which is actually pretty appropriate. And that’s not a knock on the quality of the wrestlers either; it’s just obvious that everyone, from the crowd to the wrestlers to the guys behind the scenes are there to have a good time. Even the commentators get into the act, with what is unquestionably my favorite bit of wrestling commentary ever:


He’s going for the Surfboard! That move is utilized by Hulk Hogan in WCW vs. NWO Revenge! He doesn’t actually use that in real life, that’s a BULLSHIT move!


And with that, the ISW stole my heart.

If you’d like to find out more about them, there’s a website with a YouTube channel, and the DVDs of their programs are available to buy online, although to be honest, I’m not sure if there are references to the N64 in any of the others.

¡Cinco de Mayo con El Gorgo!

¡Bienvenidos a otro del Cinco de Mayo en la ISB!

Esto no sorprende a nadie, pero cuando pienso en Mexico, mi pensamiento se dirige de inmediato a las obras de arte de la Lucha Libre, y cuando pienso de luchadores, creo que de un solo hombre:



¡Si, El Gorgo! El gorila guitarrista super científico protagonista de la cómic fantástica de Mike McGee y Tamas Jakab, que me envió este increíble dibujo con mi copia de la primera edición.

Verdaderamente, una gorila luchador tirar los cuernos del diablo es el mayor de vista la humanidad ha imaginado.

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo, todos!