Review - Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia #1 (@SBI_Press)

"Let me put it to you this way brother...I just got a mighty interestin' signal."

Wrestling is a theater of the absurd. There's a certain elegance to the way the wrestlers battle, both physically and verbally. In Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia #1 from Starburns Industries Press though, the stakes get a lot bigger than just one pay-per-view. The issue is written by Ed "The Carnage Artist" Kuehnel and "Masculine" Matt Entin, illustrated by Dan "The Body" Schkade, colored by Marissa Louise (aka "Col. Von Slamstein") and lettered by A Larger World Studios (The North Hollywood Nightmares).

"Boy Scout" Bob Schultz! Cousin Orville! Mini Macho! Kodiak Jack! Spanish Rose! Don Fong Wong! These are the megastars of 1984's AWF. "Rock 'n' Roll" Rory Landell isn't getting the respect he thinks he deserves, so one crazy night he ups the game, declaring himself the Galactic Champion of the Universe. But it turns out AWF fans aren't the only ones listening, and the denizens of planet Wrestletopia aren't going to take a challenge like that sitting down!

There's a tightness to the issue that shows the fan devotion on the part of Kuehnel and Entin. There are plenty of nods to (and jabs at) pro wrestling history sprinkled throughout the book as the writing duo showcase their attention to the sport's history and acknowledge some of the sheer ridiculousness of it as well. Their overarching narrative is essentially introducing "Rock 'n' Roll" Rory Landell--a heel looking to finally become champion--set amidst the backdrop of the show business side of pro wrestling. Kuehnel and Entin write him as a man looking for his moment, yet when he learns that things are going differently he doesn't exactly react in the best way possible. Pro wrestling thrives on hyperbolic boasts and taunts which is why Landell's declaration is subtly brilliant--it both establishes his hubris while at the same time serves as the catalyst for the series as a whole.

There's a certain attempt at gravitas that comes with wrestlers and their promos, but Schkade's decided to lean into the more absurd theater of it all with the artwork. The characters are defined by very thick, bold lines that give the characters the physiques appropriate for being professional wrestlers. There's a very forward approach in Schkade's angular style that evokes comparisons to Augusto Quijano's work in Guacamelee. Schkade also empties the gutters, giving each panel more weight and significance while at the same time embracing the weirdness that makes wrestling work. Louise does a phenomenal job with the colors, infusing the issue with a variety of hues and tones throughout the issue that add to the flamboyance of the book as a whole.

Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia #1 is very refreshing and extremely enjoyable. Rock 'n' Roll" Rory Landell is no strange to provoking crowds, but his latest claim might be more than even he can live up to. The writers Kuehnel and Entin are clearly fans of wrestling and channel that appreciation into the nuances of the issue. Schkade's art style is very lighthearted and really helps establish the more humorous tone of the book as a whole. Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia #1 checks its privilege before entering the ring and makes for an extremely enjoyable first issue to check out.

Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia #1 is available now.