Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia #4: Road Games
Writers: Ed Kuehnel & Matt Entin
Art & Cover: Kendall Goode
Colors: Jason Lewis
Lettering: Sal Cipriano
Editor: Brendan Wright
Publisher: Starburns Industries Press
Price: $1.99 (at least the past issues are…)
Available: October 30, only on Comixology
Available October 30, just in time for the Halloween holiday, is…well, something not remotely scary, but packed full of more fun than Hacksaw Jim Duggan’s 2×4: Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia #4: Road Games, from Starburns Industry Press!
In case you missed Paul’s reviews of issues 1 (here) and 3 (here), Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia is a loving homage to the halcyon days of professional wrestling, blended with some good-old intergalactic invasion and Daddy issues. Drawing primarily from the 1970’s and ‘80’s, back in the days where regional federations and traveling associations put on more miles and drew larger crowds than a Barnum and Bailey circus, Wrestletopia centers around the life and career of Rock’n’Roll Rory Landell and the intergalactic invasion he triggered with a pizza box belt buckle. Confused? Then you should probably read the first three issues. Still confused? Well, not much I can do for you at this point, then…
In Road Games, our heroes hit the road—and a whole bevvy of bad guys—and we are introduced to some key figures in Rory and manager Don Fong Wong’s pasts. Meanwhile, the conspiracy to keep Rory from his date with (Manifest) Destiny builds, as nefarious outer-space ham-fists assault the gang (and their new tag-team members) everywhere from a theme park in the middle of nowhere to a male dance review somewhere north of that, all on the road to St. Paul. All the while, we continue to gather moderately sobering glimpses into Rory’s past life, and behind the curtain of professional wrestling in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s.
Wrestletopia, at a superficial level, reads as though Rowdy Roddy Piper, Jake the Snake Roberts and Macho Man Randy Savage decided they’d put together a comic book, after having binge-watched Deep Space Nine on Netflix while downing a twelve-pack (each), and were lucky enough to have a really talented group of artists as friends. And it works really, really well at that level (like, surprisingly well). What really draws me in, though, is something Paul noted in his review of issue 3—the little bits of humanity, of soul that undercut and weave themselves throughout the series. It would have been very easy to keep Wrestletopia a slapstick, superficial romp of a book (and don’t get me wrong—there’s plenty of that to go around too!)—and let’s face it, given its niche, it would’ve sold just as well. But the fact that there’s a heart in there, and some real humanity—real psychology—says a lot for Kuehnel and Entin’s talents and dedication to their craft.
That’s especially true here in Road Games, because they’ve got a whole new group of artists to work with. Goode, Lewis and Cipriano don’t miss a beat, however, and the style and swagger of the first three issues continue right on, in the same in-your-face and over-the-top manner. And that style is a perfect match to the writing and plot: thick, bold lines, bright colors and a cartoony-without-being-too-goofy technique which epitomizes the much larger-than-life figures they’re meant to portray.
It goes without saying that there’s a whole lotta disbelief to be suspended if you’re going to read and enjoy Wrestletopia. Provided you can go into it with the right attitude though—that same attitude that made watching the AWA, the WWF and the WWE (and all the regional variants) so much fun on the Saturday nights and Sunday mornings of my youth, as a for instance—you’ll have a rockin’ good time.
Oh—and make sure to check out the back cover “ads” and bonus features—they’re a complete hoot, and almost as entertaining as the book itself!
Review by Andy Patch, thePullbox.com