By Pablo Arriaga
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one thinking this lately and I’m not imagining things, but I am seeing more wrestling t-shirts being worn around town more often, overhearing talk of the latest WWE Pay-Per-View and people coming by in droves to pick up the newly debuted wrestling comic. You guys, I think wrestling is cool again.
The main players in this comic are starting to cross paths in Ringside #8, which starts with a flashback to Danny, Hank, and Davis at a local wrestling/comics convention in which they’re once again screwed out of their money and deciding how to proceed forward. In the present all three characters continue with the drastic changes in their respective lives, either mishandling an indie promotion, being slowly forced out of the ring, or forced into illegal trafficking business. Their eventual crossing of paths is a refreshing change of pace for the series and a leap forward in the story that had felt so far like three compelling but separate stories. Joe Keatinge uses an effective flashback to carry the weight from their old relationship and running in the same circles to the present and the fallout they have had since, it sets up effectively to a crossing of paths that has the potential to be chaotic and too much for these washout wrestlers to handle.
The biggest strong suit of this issue is tone and theme. The pessimism that’s been carried through this entire series is at an all-time high (or low) in this issue and it does not let up. There are moments in this issue that, in the narrative readers are used to, would present themselves as the opportunity for change; the characters in this story would normally face the adversity and stand up, change the narrative for a positive spin. In the case of Ringside, they have used those same moments to drive the theme of the comic even further and showcase the reality of the business they’re trying to mirror in this series. All was needed was Bret Hart being quoted as saying, “wrestling will break your heart” in the same way Jack Kirby talked about comics.
The art has become second nature to this comic. It’s so complementary to the story that every issue unfolds the way an issue of Saga would, with Nick Barber and Simon Gough having incredible flow throughout the pages. The pages showing a young Danny and Davis during the flashback in their full wrestling gear and young attitude gives an intended sense of uplift and light tone, until the conversation happens, then it’s later compared to who they’ve become now. The facial expressions have the focus and intensity to contrast their change through the years, adding a new layer to their characters.
Ringside #8 cements the story into the foundation it has built. It takes a huge step forward as well as showing those jarring moments of common heartbreak and loss of passion. If you’re a fan of wrestling, or a so-called “smart” fan, and are not reading Ringside, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice.
Artist: Nick Barber
Colors: Simon Gough
Letters: Ariana Maher
Publisher: Image Comics