Those of you who haven't been obsessively keeping track of which Archie Comics are available to buy at 3:00 AM might not be aware of this, but the publisher has been putting out pretty inexpensive digital collections for a while now that are all built around a certain theme. There's a bunch of them up, including one that features my beloved Elevenaire, but this week, they're topping them all with Archie & Friends: Wrestle Maniacs.
That's right, brother: A bunch of Archie comics about the King of Sports, professional wrestling. And, I suppose, that greco-roman stuff that they do in high schools and the Olympics, which, let's face it, is obviously the inferior version due to a lack of zombies, dragons, and steel chairs used as weapons.
The world of pro wrestling can be a beautiful thing. For proof, you need look no further than the recent developments in lucha libre, in which there are not one, not two, but three different groups of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-themed factions that have recently begun warring with each other. I can only assume this conflict was inevitable, but it came to a head when AULL's Tortiguillos Karatekas were taking on the IWRG's Tortugas Ninja in a four-on-four tag team match that was interrupted when a third faction, Las Tortugas Mutantes, ran in and started attacking everyone.
Q: Can Batman defeat a pro wrestler in his natural element? --@ykarps
A: At first glance, this seems like one of the easiest questions I've ever tackled in this column. I mean, of course he could, right? He's Batman. While the rest of us were learning algebra in 8th grade, this dude was traveling across the world learning how to be the best possible expert at everything, just in case he needed it for his never-ending war on crime. Surely that would have to include professional wrestling, the King of Sports, if only because there's no other discipline that combines theatricality and combat in the way that would serve him so well back in Gotham City.
And yet, the more I think about it, the more I realize that, as shocking as it might be for me to say this as the World's Foremost Batmanologist... I doubt even Batman could beat a pro wrestler in his natural element.
Since his well-publicized walk-out from WWE the night after last year's Royal Rumble event, there's really only been one place where fans were sure they could see former WWE Champion CM Punk: Comics. Not only was it recently announced that he'd be writing for both Marvel and Vertigo, but until the story caught up with his real-life departure from the company, he was a regular character in WWE Superstars, the truly bizarre, nominally wrestling-themed comic being published by Papercutz. Now, it seems that is no longer the case.
As reported by WrestlingInc.com, WWE is removing Punk from the comic for all future printings, presumably replacing him with a different character in what has to be one of the weirdest retcons of all time.
If you were watching WrestleMania XXX this weekend, then you saw one of the most shocking moments in the history of the King of Sports when Brock Lesnar defeated the Undertaker, bringing a 23-year winning streak at WrestleMania to an end and leaving so many fans with burning questions. Questions like "is it really a winning streak if it's only in effect one night of the year and other losses don't count" and, far more importantly, "how does a loss at WrestleMania affect the Undertaker's ability to protect us from demons who escape from prison and try to infiltrate the mortal world through the medium of professional wrestling?"
Wait, you guys knew that was the Undertaker's deal, right? I mean, we all know about the 1999 Chaos! Comics series about the Undertaker and how he was actually wrestling demons all the time, right? Oh, you haven't? Then by all means, let me explain.
There are, perhaps unsurprisingly, a lot of comic book fans among the roster of professional wrestlers, but very few have worn their fandom on their sleeve as much as "The Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels. And I mean that literally -- there was a stretch there where he was only appearing on television in Marvel-themed shirts, and he once flipped through an issue of Amazing Spider-Man while keeping his opponent locked in the dreaded Figure-Four.
Now, Daniels is taking the next step. As revealed on the Let's Talk Comics podcast, he's not only appearing in a comic alongside his tag team partner Frankie Kazarian, but he's writing it, too: Christopher Daniels And Kazarian Wrestling Aw Yeah Comics! is on its way soon, debuting on Comixology with a script by Daniels and art by former Tiny Titans artist Art Baltazar.
If you'd asked me three months ago what my most anticipated graphic novel of 2014 was, I could've given you the answer without even having to think about it: Box Brown's Andre the Giant: Life and Legend, a comic book biography of one of the most famous professional wrestlers of all time. Admittedly, I'm right smack in the center of the target audience for that book, but there's so much about the man that's fascinating, and Brown's work as a Xeric Grant and Ignatz Award-winning cartoonist is top notch -- it's something I feel like I would've been interested in even if I was going into it cold, with no knowledge whatsoever of the world of professional wrestling.
The book isn't out until May, but the book's publisher, First Second, sent over a review copy and I couldn't wait to read it. It's the sort of book that I knocked out in one sitting, and it lived up to every hope I had for it. It's not just one of my favorite graphic novels of the year, but it's also one of my favorite comic biographies of all time.
Q: Who is the best wrestler in Marvel or DC? -- @Mike_Zeidler
A: I'll be honest with you, folks: Over the past week, I have pretty much done nothing but watch the new WWE Network for five straight days, so it was a foregone conclusion that this week's column was going to be about pro wrestling. It was either this, or a lengthy examination of what the tag team tournament from Starrcade '89: Future Shock had in common with Secret Wars II, and I don't think any of us want to sit through that.
Now, I've written about comics that were about pro wrestling in the past, but if we're talking about which mainstream superheroes would fare best inside the squared circle, well, there's certainly an obvious answer.
I've never written fan-fiction. Okay, well, now that I think about it, that's actually a convenient lie. When I was 12, I started writing a novella-length sequel to Army of Darkness and gave up after the first chapter, and there are definitely a couple of Ask Chris columns that only avoid being straight up fanfic because I was writing them for my actual job and I can tenuously claim they were parody. But technically, in the traditional sense of a full length story detailing what would happen if Bella and Edward had to fill in as Gotham City's protectors due to Batman's tempestuous marriage to Goku, that's never really been my thing.
I do, however, know exactly what it's like, because when I play WWE 2K14, I go into it with a set of elaborate storylines that would rival any Harry Potter sequel on the Internet. It's... It's kind of becoming a problem at this point.
I've loved pro wrestling almost as long as I've loved comics, but it takes a lot to get me interested in those two things joining together. Books like Super Pro KO and The Legend of Ricky Thunder are absolutely fantastic, don't get me wrong, but when it comes to making comics that are actually based on the real-life stars of World Wrestling Entertainment, I've been burned pretty much every single time. That said, if there's one thing that could've gotten me excited about WWE Superstars, the latest attempt at bringing pro wrestling to the page, it was the announcement that it was being written by one of my all-time favorites, Mick Foley.
That was more than enough to get me to read it, and I'm glad I did, because this book is ridiculously entertaining -- and part of that comes from the fact that it is also one thousand percent bonkers.
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