Welcome to Give ‘Em Elle, a weekly column that hopes to bridge the gap between old school comics fandom and the progressive edge of comics culture. I'm going to be honest with you: the real world continues to be a little too real, and comics can seem pretty stressful the week after SDCC. So I was relieved to get a lighthearted question to think about today:
The intersection of comics and wrestling has often led to iffy results in the past, despite a huge overlap of fans. But recently, with work like SuperPro K.O., Headlocked, and Ringside, wrestling comics have been looking a lot more promising. So it’s unsurprising that WWE is trying to get back in the game with a new line of comics from Boom Studios.
In thinking about what books I’d like to see from the WWE line, I’m not going to concern myself with who Boom would actually be able to hire. I’m throwing the door wide open and basing my picks entirely on who would make the best possible wrestling comics, and which comics I’d like to see them make.
To be absolutely clear: the comics listed below do not exist. I just wish they did.
'Charlotte: Second Nature' by Kelly Thompson and Kris Anka
When I started thinking about who I’d like to see on WWE comics, one of the first thoughts I had was how great Kris Anka would be at drawing Charlotte. As he’s proven in his Captain Marvel run, Anka excels at drawing beautiful women with muscles.
A Charlotte comic would be an action drama, using the kayfabe world of WWE as a backdrop, with Charlotte’s striving to be the best in the women’s division while struggling under the weight of her father’s legacy. She’d still be a heel and a bully, like she is on TV, but one with sympathetic motivations. Her goofy sidekick Dana Brooke will provide the comic relief. Kelly Thompson will handle that mix of comedy, drama, and action, while Anka will make everything look amazing.
'Shattered Shield' by Steve Orlando and ACO
Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns were once a trio of vigilantes who called each other brother. Now, after a series of betrayals, none of them are speaking. But they’re bound to cross paths again and again, whether as allies or enemies. They may come together when fighting worse threats, but they’ll also come to blows with each other.
I think the best Shield comic would depart from the world of wrestling and make them actual street-level urban vigilantes. The group fractured when Rollins allied himself with a crime family. Ambrose and Reigns tried to keep going, but Ambrose became suspicious that Reigns was also in it for his own gain, while Reigns started to think that Ambrose was too unstable to be trusted. As the comic tells the story of this fractured group, we’ll also get flashbacks to their origin and time as partners.
I'm giving this to the team from Midnighter because they made that mix of gritty action and interpersonal drama work so well that I know they could handle this. Plus Orlando at least is already into wrestling.
'The Wyatt Family' by Caitlin Kiernan and Steve Lieber
Let’s make the Wyatt Family scary. I chose Kiernan and Lieber based on their work together on Alabaster, because I’d like to see something similar here: Weird horror in a Southern Gothic setting. A small town that’s always been uneasy about the reclusive Wyatt family that lives out in the swamp, but recently things have been getting weirder. Why are the farm animals dying mysteriously? Why is everyone afraid to go outside at night? What is that glow coming from the swamp? What is it about Bray Wyatt and his weird eyes that seem to make everyone do what he says? What sort of creature are they worshiping out there, and what happens if it turns out to be real?
'Sasha & Bayley: Magical Wrestling Squad Go' by Noelle Stevenson and Paulina Ganucheau
Get ready for the first ever Magical Girl Wrestling comic. Sasha and Bayley are best friends who both love wrestling more than anything else. Seeing their fighting prowess, a higher power grants them special abilities to fight a legion of monsters that are attempting to invade Earth. As they tour the country wrestling (we’ll let everybody be on the same roster for purposes of this comic), they also have to switch to their magical personas (who are just their wrestling personas amped up) to fight the alien creatures that spring up at every stop. Over time, their Sailor Senshi-esque team will be filled out by Carmella, Beck Lynch, and Asuka.
I picked Ganucheau for this book because she’s already proven her magical girl skills on Zodiac Starforce, and she’s also a wrestling fan. I like the idea of Stevenson writing because she’s so great at depicting friendships, and the dynamic between Sasha and Bayley will be the heart of the book.
'It's a New Day' by Jarrett Williams
In SuperPro K.O., Jarrett Williams depicts an over-the-top cartoon of wrestling while keeping the stakes real. That comfort with the absurd side of the business makes him the perfect fit for a New Day book. It will take place in the WWE world, but push it to a silly extreme, much as New Day themselves do when they’re on the mic. Big fights, big rivalries, backstage drama, and Booty-Os. The group dynamics will be important as we spend time with the individual members: Kofi, the veteran and family man; Xavier, the nerd who would always rather be playing video games; and Big E, the goofball ladies’ man.
'Kalisto: Lucha Guardian' by Ramon Villalobos
Kalisto isn’t taken seriously as a wrestler, and he knows it. But he has a more important job. In the proud tradition of the masked luchadors of the past, it’s Kalisto’s sacred duty to fight vampires, mummies, and zombies who threaten the living. You’d be surprised how often these creatures spring up at wrestling shows. In fact, Kalisto’s begun to suspect there may be people on the roster working for the Other Side. Those guys in the Ascension do seem pretty suspicious.
Ramon Villalobos draws luchadors and violence better than just about anyone. His writing hasn't broken into the mainstream yet, but it's just a matter of time.
'All-Star John Cena' by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
I don’t just want a comic about John Cena overcoming the odds in the ring, respecting the troops, and being friends with children everywhere. I want a comic about what it means to be John Cena. About how the John Cena persona sends ripples out through spacetime, interdimensional echoes of hustle, loyalty, and respect. I want a story where obnoxious young rapper John Cena must travel through time to team up with unstoppable champion John Cena, veteran-helping-out-the-new-guys John Cena, and a John Cena who co-hosts The Today Show. I want a comic in which John Cena kisses Nikki Bella goodbye before flying off to reignite the sun.
I’m going to stop there, but believe me I have plenty more ideas. Like a Becky Cloonan comic in which Paige is a young vampire who must battle evil vampire queen Eva Marie. A comic about Finn Bálor battling the demon that lives within him practically writes itself. Somebody with a street art inspired style, like Jim Mahfood, needs to do an Enzo and Cass comic. And can you imagine how great Sophie Campbell would be at drawing Nia Jax?
I’m sure that whatever is forthcoming from Boom and WWE will resemble nothing on this list, but I’m still looking forward to finding out what’s to come.