Updated: Jan 26
Writer: Ed “The Carnage Artist” Kuehnel & “Masculine” Matt Entin
Illustrator: Dan “The Body” Schkade (#1-#3)
Publisher: SBI Press
WHAT IS IT?
A completely bonkers send-up of professional wrestling and alien invasion movies that is also one hell of a good story.
This book is all the Rocky movies, the Last Starfighter and the WWE thrown in a blender along with copious amounts of alcohol.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
A wrestler named Rory Landell loses his shot at the title, loses his temper, and accidentally offends a galactic wrestling warlord.
20 years later, space travel times being what they are, the warlord finally arrives on earth along with his army of wrestlers.
He is intent on challenging the now middle-aged and down-on-his-luck Rory for the title, with Earth's fate on the line.
They didn't forget the basics. When a book has a great a high concept idea like this one does it's easy for the writer to forget that plot and people are still the key. Kuehnel and Entin do a great job of creating believable and interesting characters, and that helps to keep the story real and relatable, even at its zaniest.
I am not a wrestling fan. I am pretty sure that means I missed a lot. But you don't actually have to be into wrestling to enjoy this book. That said, if you do happen to be a fan of wrestling, alien invasions, road trip movies, and random violence, all the better.
Rory. Rory works. Rory is the main character, and he is deeply flawed. But he also is someone you can empathize with and root for.
Dan Schkade's art is damn near perfect for this book. His characters are over-the-top and expressive, and his style is put to advantage by the larger-than-life people and events of WrestleTopia. I have always been a fan of "cartoony" superhero comic art, at least when it is done well. Joe Staton, Amanda Connor, and Darwyn Cooke all are good examples of this style, and Schkade's work on WrestleTopia is in the same vein.
I love the colors in this book. Marissa Louise does a spectacular job of focusing the reader's eye, and of setting the mood for a scene. She is great at evoking the garish colors and lighting of wrestling, but Louise is also able to really sell the more serious or depressing moments.
This is a six-issue series, so there is a lot of action left. The creative team discussed above gets shaken up a bit for the last half of the run, with a new artist, letterer, and colorist coming on board with issue #4. Kuehnel and Entin keep the story rolling, though, and issues #4 and #5 are also a ton of fun.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Women are pretty scarce in this book, and in the first few issues, they only appear to be present so that their husband or boyfriend has someone to leave. Linda starts getting a bit of page time in later issues, but this is definitely a sausage-fest. Hell, even the strippers are guys...
The lettering in a book like this is critical. Schkade's expressive art needs sound effects and bubbles that fit in with his energy. For the most part, I think that the lettering does what it needs to do, although I wonder if the fonts and effects couldn't be a bit bolder sometimes. It feels like the lettering by the folks at A Larger World Studios is the only part of the book that is playing it safe, and I would have liked the effects to be a bit bigger and punchier.
Other than that, I don't really have any complaints. The WrestleTopia books are fun, and they have way fewer plot holes than a recent Star Wars movie I could mention.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Invasion from Planet WrestleTopia is big, bold, and different. If this were a cable Pay-Per-View, I would be glad to put my money down and tune in.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Over the Ropes by Sandlin and Cosentino
Power Girl by Palmiotti, Gray and Palmer
Hardbody by Fred Schwartz & Savy Lim
If you like the art:
Lavender Jack by Dan Schkade
Will Eisner's The Spirit: Returns by Matt Wagner and Dan Schkade
The Spirit by Darwyn Cooke
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Ed Kuehnel – Writer
Multitalented: Has written for numerous video games, including Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude and Valient Hearts – The Great War
Co-wrote the 2015 movie Lumberjack Man, which starred Michael Madsen
New Face: This is his first published comic work
Matt Entin – Writer
Dream Team: Previously worked with Ed Keuhnel on a suspiciously large number of projects. So many, in fact, that they may actually be the same person running a scam to get paid twice. I do not have any evidence of this. It's just a theory...
Has done advertising work for Duracell, Lexus, McDonald's, Lowes, and other large companies
New Face: This is also Matt's first time working in comics
Dan Schkade – Artist
Worked on The Spirit and Battlestar Galactica books for Dynamite
Writer and artist on Lavender Jack, a weekly webcomic he says is "like if P.G. Wodehouse wrote a season of Arrow"
Marissa Louise – Colorist
Provided colors for Fairlady (Image), Hex Wives (DC) and Spell on Wheels (Dark Horse)
Moderates a fascinating series called Colorist on Color where she talks about her coloring process and interviews other colorists
A Larger World Studios – Lettering
A Larger World Studios have worked for most of the major comics companies, and they have been openly defying established standards for creator credits from their North Hollywood offices for years
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