Call me traditional, or just an easy mark, but I’m the kind of guy who’s gonna check out a book called Wrestlers in Space. Why? Because it’s about wrestlers. In fucking space. And honestly, who doesn’t want that combo? (Dicks! That’s who!) It also has a wicked Justice League International homage cover, which immediately cranks my tractor. However, as is often the case with things that sound too good to be true, Wrestlers in Space is just that; rife with promise, but far from an excellence of execution. And while I may stick with this book for a few issues, just to see if it can reach the hilarity promised in its title and premise, I am also not above tapping out early if the situations demands.
This first issue focuses primarily on the origin story of a character called The Matador, and what led to his horrifying transformation from a swarthy mustachioed sexual dynamo into the horrifying wolf-like man-beast he is today. And while it wasn’t bad, it did feel laborious to get through. In fact, everything here felt long-winded, like it could have been summed up or better told in half the page count. His ill-fated wooing of a gypsy girl, for example, took six pages; the fallout of her ire took what felt like double that.
Again, it’s not terrible comics, but if it had been reined in, distilled and focused, it - and its humor, which largely fell flat - would have resounded more successfully. Maybe some of that is my own fault, expecting, as I did, this title to be in the vein of something like God Hates Astronauts; something deliriously ludicrous and easily digestible, as the name implies. But this was not that, and much of it felt like it was trying too hard.
The artwork of this story was genuinely competent, and even great at times with its angular cartoony look; this is particularly true in The Matador’s big metamorphosis scene. But it’s also downright Liefeldian with its proportions at times. Thankfully, those instances are few and far between, and I overall enjoyed the visual presentation. But in tandem with its story, it could stand to be more finely tempered in its approach.
The latter part of the book is split between some fun (some not-so-fun) variant covers, and a backup story about random aliens being squeezed by some sort of space mafia for cash, as well as the masked wrestlers on the cover giving terrible promos and fighting one another. I got nothing from this, other than an artistic style that was vaguely reminiscent of Ren & Stimpy, and a possible setup for future stories that has left me completely cold. Given the disparity in storytelling between this and the Matador story, I also don’t know who the audience for this is. Tweens, I guess?
I had high hopes for this book, but this dueling presentation of micro-stories, rather than a more holistic introduction of the universe, has sapped any interest I had in it. This first issue of Wrestlers in Space just felt incohesive and aimless; a book with an amazing hook, but one that ill-befits its great title.
Wrestlers in Space #1 Writer: Nathanael Hopkins-Smith Artists: Francesco “Prenzy” Chiapara / Jim Smith Colorist: Simon A. Wright Publisher: Self-Published Release Date: 3/2/16 Price: $2.99 Format: Digital Comixology Link