There’s no denying that some things just go great together. Chocolate and peanut butter, Lennon and McCartney, Power Man and Iron Fist; these are all things that came together to form something way more awesome than they were separately, and when I was a kid, I figured that the two great passions of my misspent youth–comic books and pro wrestling–would be a similar pairing.
Needless to say, I was wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong.
And it didn’t take the late-90s movement that brought us Nash and Chaos Comics Presents the Undertaker to show me the error of my ways either, because it’s a lesson I learned back in 1993 thanks to Marvel Comics and World Championship Wrestling:
And in a bit of personal history that just goes to prove that I grew up a wrestling fan in South Carolina, I actually picked my few issues of this thing up off the magazine rack of an honest-to-God bait shop on a family fishing trip to Lake Marion.
Anyway, if there was one thing you’d think comics could get right, it’s be dudes in spandex punching each other, but I’ll be honest: this thing sucks hard. Then again, that’s oddly appropriate, considering that it’s a tie-in to WCW’s Halloween Havoc, which was generally considered around my house to be the worst Pay-Per-View event of the year, every year.
This was, after all, the showcase of the awesomely terrible Chamber of Horrors match from 1991, wherein poor Mick Foley had to stand around the switch for an ersatz “electric chair” for like five minutes until Abdullah the Butcher finally got in the chair and did the best pretend-electrocution ever captured on Sports-Entertainment Television.
Oh well, coulda been worse, I guess. At least RoboCop didn’t show up for that one.
But like I was saying: Despite the fact that it was released in December (complete with a February cover date and a Yuletide greeting from then-EIC Tom DeFalco on the Bullpen page), it’s actually a Halloween tie-in, but even with the promise of Sting finally throwing down with his comic book nemesis, The Ghoul, the only thing even remotely spooky about this thing is how horrifyingly awful it is.
There is, however, one redeeming quality:
Yep: It opens with a double-page kick to the face. Admittedly, it’s a horribly drawn kick to the face on the late “Flyin'” Brian Pillman courtesy of artists Ron Wilson and Steve Montano, but at least Ron Simmons was involved. So you take what you can get, I guess.
But seriously: The art in this thing is awful, and considering that Wilson was the penciller on John Byrne’s The Thing not ten years before, it’s pretty shocking that it’s this bad. How bad, you ask?
So bad that the expression on his face doesn’t match up with the mirror.
Look, I’m not saying WCW #11 should stand out as the highlight of anyone’s artistic career or anything, but man.
Probably best to move on. After all, it’s not all about the horrible art! There’s also the horrible story to consider, a gripping tale of horror and intrigue by Mike Lackey that is undeniably terrible, but still better than at least half of Vince Russo’s work in the ’90s.
See, at this point in the comics, perennial good guy (and de facto star) Sting had been stricken with amnesia and brainwashed into becoming an evil version of himself (“The Black Stinger”) by none other than Terror, Inc.!
Whoops, sorry. Got my notes mixed up.
That’s actually The Ghoul, who claimed to be Sting’s trainer, who–after being cast to the wayside when his student rose to fame–exacted his amazingly complicated revenge scheme to turn everyone against Sting with the help of a flunky who looked suspiciously like Vince McMahon:
You know, I hate it when I miss the money shot.
Still, no man is an island, but with the entirety of the WCW locker room–here represented by luminaries like Van Hammer and Johnny B. Badd–turned against him, who could possibly show up to help Our (alleged) Hero?
For the answer, what I want right now is for all you fat, outta shape comics blog reading wannabes to sit down and shut up while I show you what a terrible drawing of a real man looks like!
Yes, the only man to ever appear on Nitro and Raw on the same night during the height of the Monday Night Wars, seen here making his comic book appearance as a deus ex machina in pink spandex. God bless you, Rick Rude.
Anyway, to make a long story short (too late!), Rude and Sting eventually punch the Ghoul hard enough that Sting gets his title back and everything works out okay…
…and then they promptly move on to worrying about their next big threat: A man so tough that he doesn’t shy away from wearing targets on his knees. It would’ve been an immensely satisfying ending to the whole shebang, if only I hadn’t realized even at eleven years old that it was without a doubt one of the worst comics I have ever read.
And yet, I still have a lot of nostalgic affection for it, for reasons that can probably be best be summed up by Sting himself:
Icing on the cake indeed.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go bash myself in the head with a steel chair until this thing starts to make sense.