Pullbox Reviews: Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia #3- Better than a drop from the top rope into a folding table…

The Wrestletopians have enclosed the Earth in a metal cage, holding the planet hostage until upstart “Galactic Champion of the Universe” Rory Landell will meet the challenge of true champion Manifest Destiny. But where is Rory?

Who knew that by declaring himself the undisputed, “one true Galactic Champion” back in issue #1, “Rock n Roll” Rory Landell would set events into motion that would hold consequences most dire for the world at large? I suppose if we’re being honest, all we really had to do was take a look at the title of the comic, Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia, and we might’ve had a hint and a half. Aside from that minor spoiler, we can be sure that for AWF heel (that’s a “bad guy”, in the parlance of professional wrestling, folks) Rory Landell, the act of making a fake belt out of a pizza box and strapping it around his waist was nothing more than fodder for the legend that he believed he’d someday be.

For the one true “Champion of all galaxies, known and unknown”, Manifest Destiny, it was a challenge that could not go unheeded, and you’d better believe that he’s gonna heed the hell out it.

Anyone who’s ever spent time glued to the television watching the action-driven soap opera that is wrestling entertainment is going to take great joy in discovering all of the payoffs in Planet Wrestletopia. I myself was one of those people, spending my Sunday mornings rolling around on the floor with my Dad as we watched the AWA (yup, I’m that old)… or a couch cushion when Dad got wore out. Now, three issues into this series, I’m completely wrapped up in the joyous chaos being concocted for our reading pleasure.

The writing team of Ed Kuehnel and Matt Entin have delivered some fantastic parallels between their created world and the wrestling world as we know it, and many of their characters come across to me as loving references to wrestlers past and present. Most specifically, I can’t hear the ruler of the squared circle Manifest Destiny in any other voice but that of true wrestling royalty, the Macho Man Randy Savage. Rory Landell draws memories of one of my favorite heels turned face (good guy), Jake the Snake Roberts… particularly as we drift into the more melancholy derailment that became his later years. This is where Kuehnel and Entin bring their book up from the realm of mere nostalgic satire, and really create some meat on those bones through their characters. Everyone has a story to tell in this book, and none is more spot on than that of Rory as he finds himself desperate to hang onto his glory days, but forced to acknowledge that he’s not getting any younger and his chosen career has taken a toll on his body. It’s nothing blatant or particularly highlighted. In fact, I’m sure there will be readers who will get just as much enjoyment out of Wrestletopia while never really considering the more subtle character moments, but those tips of the hat are there and that’s what really counts.

I really have to give big nods to the entire artistic team on this title, consisting of Dan Schkade (pencils), David Hahn (inks), Marissa Louise (colors) & A Larger World Studios (lettering), for fleshing out the worlds that Kuehnel & Entin have dreamed up. As we move into the third issue, the titular Invasion has well and truly begun and the denizens of Planet Wrestletopia have started to make themselves at home. Where the second issue left us wondering if the citizens of Earth could ever hope to compete with this brand of mayhem on the galactic stage, Schkade gives us a bit of hope as we see a meeting of world leaders devolve into a Regal Roar™ over what nation’s wrestling champions should answer the call and defend our planet’s honor. The antics on the page are fleshed out by the work of Hahn & Louise, who give the cartoonish characters depth and solidity while never straying from that initial tone… After all, what is professional wrestling entertainment, if not a live action cartoon for kids of all ages? This aspect of the visual tone is reinforced by the work of A Larger World Studios, as the lettering- sound effects in particular- are reminiscent of the original Batman television show… no two “POWs” are alike, and every “THUMP” is an opportunity to really sell the action.

More than just nostalgic fan-service or an excuse to slap a bunch of steroid enhanced violence onto the page, Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia has a lot more depth of character and world-building than I would have given it credit for at first glance. That’s not to say that the nostalgia isn’t there, and just what is wrong with “fan-service” anyway? It all comes together to bring readers a solid good time read.

Final Score: 9

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