Pullbox Reviews: Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia #6- They’re about run wild on planet Earth, brother (sisters, too)!

In a world full of has-beens, almost-dids, & never-woulds, it takes grit to fight your way to the top. When the belt is on the line, there can be only one true undisputed champion… the singular, accept no substitutes, master of mixing it up, terror off the top rope! That King of Square Circle will be destined to have their name carved into the Halls of Champions and will echo through Eternity as the Pectoralis Major.

Will it be the Wrestletopian Penultima, Manifest Destiny?

Or will it be… “Rock ‘n’ Roll” Rory (ROryRoryrory)… LANDELL!!!

There are comics that have helped to define the medium, important graphic novels that through a combination of eloquence & timing transcend limitations. These books break down walls and open the eyes of the uninitiated to just how spectacular comics can be. The works of Neil Gaiman & Frank Miller have stood firm against the passage of time, their books holding up as examples of what can be accomplished when boundaries are ignored.

There are also comics that entertain by hitting all of the right notes, whether it be nostalgic fan-service, or a kind of memetic resonance. These books refuse to take themselves so seriously as to alienate readers who might not want to have to peel back layers to enjoy a little escapism. These are the books that take pride in their roles, know the niche they’re meant to fill, and are determined to entertain in a world that needs it.

And there are comics that operate on every level, crossing back and forth between entertainment & literary greatness. Okay, I’m not saying that Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia is one of those, but I will say that it has more heart carried in its pages than it needed to have and touched on some deeper meaning than I would have expected. No lie, if this were just a smash-fest flying drop-kick to the teeth, full of action and mayhem, it would have been a winner. There are legitimate feels in these pages, emotional ticks that had a direct line to memories of some very happy times.

Matt Entin & Ed Kuehnel understand that there a lot of fans who remember spending their Sunday mornings- before Monday Night Raw or Thursday Smackdown, before it was WWE or even WWF- rolling around on the floor wrestling with a couch cushion (or an endlessly patient dad). There’s more than a little outright glee with which they approach their story, a beautifully campy & more than a little heartfelt mix of sci fi & nostalgic melodrama. While readers understand that wrestling is “fake”, within the confines of Wrestletopia it’s the skill of two hallowed gladiators, mano-a-mano, which will decide the fate of the world. That reverence is what really drives their work home.

But wait, there’s more! Beyond the carefully placed emotional content, Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia is full of perfectly captured dialogue, right up to and including the back and forth between announcers Leo Sullivan & “Mondo” Larry Hondo during the long awaited main event… the Galact-O-Massacre. I think I’d actually be more than a little disappointed to find out that their knack for nailing those voices was just the result of painstaking research as opposed to a lifetime spent watching & listening to the likes of Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Mean Gene Okerlund, and Jerry “The King” Lawler.

It has to be acknowledged that professional wrestling is more entertainment than it is sport. Sure, maybe a lot more, but there’s no doubt that wrestlers are athletes of the highest caliber. Watch an average match, and think about the fortitude it would take for a 250 pound man to leap from the top turnbuckle into a gracefully arching backflip to land a body splash on his downed opponent. With its mix of action and melodrama, wrestling has been described as a soap opera for people who really don’t like soap operas. The kind of action found in wrestling is every bit as visually impressive as the most intricately choreographed fight scene between Scott Adkins and Iko Uwais- even more so when you consider that while the outcome of a match may be scripted, many of the maneuvers are performed on the fly. Come to think of it, wrestling gives me the exact same kind of action-oriented entertainment that I get from watching a movie like Triple Threat as I do watching good wrestling.

The point of that particularly rambling paragraph is that well-choreographed action is essential in a comic like Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia. That kind of action takes a special kind of artistic team to pull it off, especially when the comic in question is equally dependent on comedic beats & character development. The just stylized enough work of Kendall Goode (art) & Jio Butler (colors) is perfect here. At first glance, it may look a little too cartoony to suit some tastes. But I’d ask you to give it a fair shot, to really look at the work being done here. First, one of my favorite parts from this whole series has been the hilarious background gags included for laughs. There was something about witnessing a planetary invasion where soldiers are battling aliens leaping from the tops of famous landmarks & being defeated by the Boston Crab. Second, pay attention to the characters, their musculature and the personality being shown in their expressions. It’s all there in caricature, waiting to be appreciated. Finally, the match between Rory Landell & Manifest Destiny is played out beautifully, with all of the high flying action wrestling aficionados could hope for.

Can you feel it, brother? Ooooh yeaahhhh!

Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia wouldn’t have worked out half so well if it had taken a less than head on approach to its own ridiculousness. The Wrestletopians wreaking havoc among the world’s military forces are impervious to bullets, but completely susceptible to a flying dropkick or a figure four leg lock. In the context of this awesome mix of sci fi camp & professional wrestling action, it all makes perfect sense.

Final Score: 12/13 (it could’ve been a perfect score, but that last three count was a little slow)

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