WWE Can Be Heroes for Just One Day

September 3rd, 2010 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

WWE Heroes is not a good comic book. It really isn’t. It’s stupid, silly, incompetent and can’t be described with a straight face.

Yet I find myself buying it every month and it’s always the very first comic that I read. Probably because of those exact reasons. It’s enjoyably ridiculous and unlike most bad comics, I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth without being at the expense of another comic or the characters within. It’s ultimately a harmless series. It isn’t going to ruin characters for anyone or mess with continuity. It isn’t like that comic where the paragon of virtue is walking across the country and acting like a total douchebag to everyone he passes. It isn’t killing a bunch of beloved characters and negatively screwing with so many status quos for the sake of one writer’s hackneyed vision. It’s a wrestling comic and wrestling comics are inherently dumb. I say this as both a fan of comics and wrestling. When you mix the two together, you’re asking for trouble.

Not that it’s impossible to write a good comic with a wrestling license. The issue of World Championship Wrestling where Sting gave a kid the spirit to fight cancer was overall pretty decent, as was Dwayne McDuffie’s Ultimate Warrior story in WWF Battlemania. It’s just that if you’re saddled with a project like this, you have to know your chances of success and go to town. Writer Keith Champagne is no dummy. The guy has written some fine stuff over the years, such as Ghostbusters: The Other Side and his short run on Green Lantern Corps. His miniseries Countdown: Arena was undoubtedly terrible, but you’d be hard pressed to blame it on him when DC editorial set him up to fail. When given the WWE license, the guy obviously decided to have fun with it and be as outlandish as possible. Who can really blame him?

So far there are six issues out, getting us through the first arc. The art is by Andy Smith, a longtime veteran of the comics game. This creative team has worked together several times before, including an issue of DC’s World War III miniseries. There must be some kind of WCW joke I can make in there… eh, fuck it. Oh, they also collaborated on Dean Koontz’s Nevermore. There must be some kind of Raven joke I can make in there… eh, fuck that too. Hey, they also teamed up to do the miniseries Armor X! There must be some kind of… uh… shit, I got nothing. Moving on.

Before I get to the first issue, I should mention issue #0. #0 was released as a free iPhone app and my memory of it is fuzzy due to reading it off my buddy’s iPhone a long while ago. Here’s a promotional video that shows the first few panels.


What I recall is that Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka shows up backstage to the surprise of everyone. I forgot his stated reason for being there, but I’m sure he heard about how men treat women in the Middle East and figured they’d accept him with open arms after he tells the citizens his hilarious “beat my girlfriend to death and got away with it” anecdote. Vince is glad to have Snuka around and gives him an impromptu role in the main event. I forget if it’s turned into a tag match or a Triple Threat, but Snuka proceeds to beat the hell out of everyone while his eyes glow. Everyone there figures something is off because they know Snuka is usually as mobile as a wheelbarrow with a wheel missing. A bunch of wrestlers band together and take him down. Snuka returns to normal and can’t remember anything about the past couple days. Everyone’s confused and Triple H knows that this is only the beginning.

Here you have Triple H, the Undertaker and John Cena fighting zombies, knights and what appears to be the Cheetahmen from Action 52. Not a crossover I was expecting.

We begin with the story of Cain slaying Abel, only it’s very different. For one, they’re never referred to as Cain and Abel. Probably a good idea, since you already have the wrestler Kane. In fact, panels of Kane and the Undertaker in a Hell in the Cell match interrupt this biblical flashback to show how similar their rivalry is. The original brothers are referred to as the Firstborn and the Shadow King, so in a twist, Cain is the good guy and Abel is the bad guy. You see, Cain didn’t slay Abel out of rage or avarice or anything like that. He did it to protect the world from his evil. He didn’t really kill him anyway. He clobbered him with the stone and knocked half his face into a body of lava. This caused the Shadow King to look like Triple H as Two-Face and started a thing where the two would be reborn again and again to do battle over history.

This has been narrated by Josiah, the high priest of Shadow King’s dark religion. He speaks the word of the Shadow King inside a burning church, in front of his followers, and claims that it’s the will of the Shadow King that keeps them from being burned. It’s a bit up in the air to me over whether these are his genuine followers or if Josiah simply went into a church, set it on fire, preached for a bit and told everyone that they worship his God now. They seem to be genuinely praying with him in one panel, but when they leave, they’re overly nervous.

Josiah sends them off to cause atrocities in hopes that the Firstborn will show himself in response to combat it. The fire behind him forms into the Shadow King himself, who is not happy at all. Josiah is supposed to be looking for the Firstborn’s current form, but he’s found nothing. While being strangled, Josiah explains that he’s very, very close. He’s narrowed it down to where, but isn’t completely sure just who it is. Shadow King snaps Josiah’s neck and looks into his memories to see what Josiah’s investigation has wrought.

What he sees is Batista and a random assortment of fellow good guys going after Randy Orton. They’re probably angry about how someone forgot to draw on all their tattoos, thereby making Orton and Batista hard to differentiate. In this little flashback, we see that Josiah moonlights as WWE security in his search to find out which wrestler is his true target. There are also flashes of King Arthur (the Firstborn) fighting Mordred (Shadow King) in ways that parallel Batista vs. Orton. After seeing this, Shadow King is disgusted.

But yet… he can see where Josiah’s coming from on this. In a way, it makes some sense that the Firstborn would pose as one of these guys. He looks further into Josiah’s memories and would see a few wrestling matches that did in fact happen along with how they run parallel to old Firstborn/Shadow King fights. First is John Cena making a surprise appearance at the Royal Rumble. The filled up ring brawling looks a lot like the time conquistadors fought an army of cheetahmen and Cena throwing Triple H out of the ring is an awful lot like the Firstborn climbing a pyramid to fight the Aztek sorcerer Shadow King.

The next flashback shows Edge vs. Undertaker at Judgment Day running next to flashbacks of Firstborn and Shadow King on a Civil War battlefield. The match is different from the real one, as it should be. The real one had a lame ending where Undertaker won the vacant WWE World Title by having Edge counted out of the ring, only for authority figure and Edge’s love interest Vickie Guerrero to come out and say that Undertaker doesn’t earn the title because he didn’t win by pin. That’s overly convoluted and doesn’t make for good comic books. Here, he at least gets a pin in the end. What I do find interesting is that there’s a part where the Edgeheads, Edge’s old lacky duo of Curt Hawkins and Zach Ryder, come in to attack Undertaker at one point. When they were the Edgeheads, the two of them had long, blond hair just like their idol Edge. Here it’s retconned so that Zach appears in his more current Long Island Iced Z guido gimmick.

What’s important is that Zach motherfucking Ryder gets his own comic book appearance! …Where he promptly jumps into the ring and then runs away. But still! It’s cool to see him in his modern-day glory.

Aw, he didn’t get to say his catchphrase. Or Tweet. Or lose a match.

The last flashback goes along with the last time the two eternal brothers clashed, World War II. Shadow King dies yet again, but he does take the Firstborn with him for once. This runs alongside with Wrestlemania 24’s Triple Threat match between Triple H, John Cena and Randy Orton. It doesn’t match up with the actual match for two reasons. One, it shows an exhausted John Cena collapsing over an unconscious Triple H for the pin instead of Orton stealing the pin and coming out the winner. I get why they would change that. It’s the other thing that bugs me.

Why was John Cena wrestling the entire match with his hat on? Even in the Royal Rumble scene earlier he was hatless. Was it a rib? Did Big Show pull a prank involving crazy glue? It’s impressive is what it is. To go up against the top two guys in the business and still not get your hat knocked off.

The Shadow King has finally pinpointed his brother in this whole mess. He knows which wrestler is the Firstborn. The fact that Shadow King looks like Triple H as a burn victim should be a big hint. He brings Josiah back to life and sends him to put a plan in motion. The first issue ends with Josiah and his minions sneaking into another Wrestlemania with a whole lot of futuristic guns and talk of having a man on the inside. We also see some jerk holding a sign for “RAW” and a guy wearing a t-shirt where the design is literally a panel of Triple H from earlier in the book.

I’m not totally sure who that is on the right. Beth Phoenix? A thicker Kelly Kelly? I guess that’s a good enough segue to talk about a major art problem that’s apparent over the rest of the comic. The women situation is outright fucked. None of them look like a specific Diva. In fact, here are all the female wrestlers you see across the next few issues:

– A blond woman with long hair wearing gold tights that look like a two-piece bikini. Has a furry belt/sash around her waist. Is never mentioned by name.
– A blond woman with hair that goes to her shoulders wearing a leopard bikini top and black briefs. Is never mentioned by name.
– A blond woman with long hair wearing purple pants, a tiny purple top and a black bra underneath it. Is never mentioned by name.
– A redheaded woman with long hair wearing pink pants and a pink top with a piece of fabric stretched over her cleavage, going up to her collar. Is recognized as Mickie James despite not resembling her at all.

Now, then. Those are the basic appearances of those Divas. As the comic goes further, the colorist begins to lose his mind. Their outfits and hair colors change on the fly from panel to panel. Divas become completely interchangeable to the point of ridiculousness. The third woman goes from wearing all purple to wearing all gold. Then she goes to wearing a gold top and blue pants. Then she goes to wearing all pink as her hair changes to red. Oh? You think I’m exaggerating? Not in the slightest. Check it out.

Mickie James, indeed.

I blotted out the dialogue so as not to ruin the surprise. Take note of Shawn Michaels there. I’ll get to his appearance in a second.

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler get ready for the big Wrestlemania main event of Triple H and the Undertaker. Things get chaotic immediately as Triple H brings out the sledgehammer and uses it on Undertaker. He then knocks the ref out with it. Undertaker quickly recovers and…


Undertaker rolls Triple H into the ring, steals the sledgehammer and gets a shot in there for good measure. Triple H kicks it out of his hands and it makes you wonder why he brought a sledgehammer to the match in the first place considering it’s obviously made of Nerf material. I should note the various signs that appear throughout the match.

– “HEY!!! TRIPLE HHH!!” (note: HHHHHHHHH?)
– “AL SNOW” (note: …wha?)

Josiah and his minions kidnap all the security guards, plant bombs over all the exits and take over the production truck. They take over the Titantron and broadcast themselves across the country. He warns everyone about the bombs that will go off if anyone tries to escape and proves that they mean business by cutting an innocent man’s throat on camera. Hey, just as long as he didn’t strangle anyone with a tie. That would be over the line.

Backstage, everyone’s freaking out, which brings me back to that image with Shawn Michaels above. For some reason he’s just hanging out backstage in his pre-match chainmail outfit when he’s obviously finished wrestling. I’d think a shirt is more comfortable. The next example of strange art comes from Rey Mysterio.

Ah, yes. The ultra rare backwards hardcover edition of Zombie Survival Guide with the upside-down spine. What are you doing reading during the main event of the biggest show of the year anyway, Rey? Triple H’s matches aren’t that bad.

Vince tries to keep everyone calm, but Josiah and his men walk out and take control of the situation. First Josiah smashes Vince upside the head with the blunt end of an axe. Then he has everyone walk to the ring.

So there you have everyone and… hold on a fucking second. Look in the back there. Behind Mickie James. That’s Umaga! What the hell is Umaga doing there? Even ignoring that he’s been dead months before this was released, the dude was fired like a year earlier.

Josiah goes on his big speech about his goals and Chris Jericho suddenly acts out. He won’t take part in this, but the goons are quick to drag him out of the ring by the ankles and pull him backstage. In a scene that’s genuinely kind of messed up to read, Jericho is dragged away while screaming for somebody โ€“ anybody โ€“ to help him. Behind a curtain, you hear the sound of his throat being slashed to silence his screaming. Again, just as long as they didn’t strangle him with a tie.

Everyone is bummed about their dead coworker and Josiah mocks him by suggesting a ten-bell salute. Triple H is losing his patience and demands he just get on with whatever his plan is. Josiah hits Triple H with the bell and decides that since he robbed everyone of the main event, he’s going to get back to business by restarting the match. Now it’s a fight to the death between Triple H and Undertaker and if they don’t take part, a whole lot of innocent people will be killed. The ring is cleared and the two reluctantly fight it out with the agreement that the winner will go after Josiah. One fight montage later and Triple H stands over a beaten Undertaker. Triple H going over Undertaker at Wrestlemania? That ain’t right. He refuses to go for the kill and instead makes a jump at Josiah.

Josiah’s wounded Triple H in the chest in a way that causes a smudge of blood to appear over his pec. Triple H has a vision the Shadow King looming over a city, watching over it as an army of zombies stagger around and devour entrails and the like. But hey, there’s no foul play with neckties, so we’re good. The Diva who may or may not be Kelly Kelly screams that Triple H is dead. Wow. Two dead wrestlers in one issue. Can’t say I saw that coming.

I hope they give both Triple H AND Chris Jericho a good sendoff in the next issue…

Oh, come on!

Back to that Orton/Mickie panel again, Mickie was reacting to how they just watched two of their buddies die and Orton plays the horndog act. Damn, man.

Josiah paints symbols onto Triple H’s chest as a way to get ready for a big ritual, but when he spits on the corpse, Big Show has finally had enough. Josiah handily beats down Big Show but decides he won’t kill him just yet.

I think this is the real problem with the comic. When you get past the outlandishness and the art problems and the little nitpicks, you’re left with a comic that is almost entirely a show of your favorite WWE Superstars being complete bitches. They spend so long being helpless weaklings that by the time the tables do turn, it’s too late for the comic. As it is, the series has fallen off the list of the top 300 comics for the last several months. There’s nothing exactly engaging about watching a skinny asshole sadist priest easily beat down the beloved Big Show. And he does it three times throughout the six issues!

Vince is forced to read Josiah’s demands to the police watching outside. It’s a bunch of silly stuff put in there to make the cult look like a different flavor of whackos. The moment he acts up, someone punches him out from off-screen.

Whoever that is in the referee shirt, Cena wonders if it might be one of them. He suggests they come up with a plan out of this, but Shawn Michaels refuses and Superkicks Cena for basically no reason. Undertaker calms them down and says to play by Josiah’s rules for now.

Josiah comes back in and has an idea on how to deal with Big Show’s treachery. There will be a handicap match. Big Show vs. John Cena, Kane, Shawn Michaels and John Morrison. If Big Show can survive for five minutes, the fans will be released and the four losers will be put to death. If Big Show is pinned, the fans will still be released, but Big Show will be put to death. If they don’t fight to their fullest, the place will be blown up.

This part is at least a blast to read. Big Show goes full berserker and kicks everyone’s ass until Kane’s able to turn it around (the two former partners admit that they’ve always hated each other in light of this situation). Big Show keeps fighting back, but a chairshot, exhaustion and lots of quadruple teaming finally brings him down. Even though he’s still strong enough to fight, they use all their strength to hold him down for the pin. Big Show, knowing he’s going to die, begins to openly cry. Michaels screams, “Somebody make the damn count!”

Josiah smirks. He forgot to appoint the referee. He asks for one to enter from the back.

You’re going to love this…

HAHAHAHA! Look at this. Y2Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. I fucking love this comic.

There’s another botch here with the storytelling that’s buried in the WTF factor. The idea here is that Chris Jericho is the mole in the referee shirt from earlier. It’s a rather good setup for him to come out with the referee introduction. Only… he isn’t wearing that referee shirt anymore. All the foreshadowing falls completely flat because of it.

The big demon thing is later referred to as a Shade. Jericho’s Shade proceeds to punch out John Morrison for the sake of punching out John Morrison. Jericho isn’t possessed or anything like that. He’s been part of the Shadow King’s cult for years and now he wants his fellow Superstars to join him. By the way, the Divas are still changing color schemes and Umaga is still hanging out in different shots!

Josiah leaves things to Jericho, whose Shade proceeds to smack everyone around for the fun of it. When they try to escape the ring, the armed goons demand they get back in. Jericho figures to throw together another match. This time it’ll be a battle royal to the death as he gets to sit by and watch. Big Show doesn’t take any chances and goes after Cena, but Undertaker notes that Big Show’s running on empty and flings him out easily. With Big Show screaming in terror, the Shade creature drags him backstage.

With everyone battling it out in the ring, they whisper around and come up with a plan. Michaels is thrown out of the ring and into Jericho. He kicks one of the henchmen and rolls Jericho into the ring, where all the pissed off wrestlers are waiting. Rey jumps out to take down a handful of armed thugs and things become chaotic. Jericho calls back his Shade, but among the confusion, the team of Cena, Edge and Mysterio sneak backstage.

Yes, Shawn Michaels has a Shade too. Didn’t you know?

Hey, you know who else is a turncoat? Edge. After he, Cena and Mysterio beat up some cultists, Edge takes them both out from behind. Josiah prepares his special ceremony that will involve sacrificing Vince McMahon and Big Show so that the Shadow King can fully consume the Firstborn’s soul. Vince somehow pulls off a dropkick. Or he tripped. I’m not certain.

Josiah takes control of the situation and gets ready to stab Triple H’s body with a fancy knife. Triple H grabs his wrist and stands up, showing that he’s able to no-sell death itself. Josiah screams in defiance while his knife shatters on the floor. Wow, what a piece of shit. My silverware doesn’t even bend when I drop it.

Heh. Come on, everyone knows Rey’s got no hair.

Back to the Jericho/Michaels fight, we find out that Michaels is also a member of the Shadow King cult and has been undercover in the WWE for years. The thing is, his friendship with Triple H has led to him reconsidering his path and he’s turned on his religion. He’s attacked by Edge, who also has his own Shade. This one’s green.

Josiah escapes Triple H’s grasp as the other bad guys are beaten down by the resurrected wrestler. Triple H tries to explain his backstory to his fellow grapplers quickly, but nobody understands a word he says. One of the bad guys jumps out and fires at Triple H. Cena sacrifices himself and gets hit with a poison dart. Triple H yells at him for being an idiot, since Triple H can easily handle something like a poison dart considering he just came back from the dead. Cena volunteers to stay and not drag down the party and Big Show agrees to watch over him. Vince is put in charge of leading everyone else to safety. He tries the roof, but there’s a wall of shadow surrounding the building. No way are they getting through that.

Oh, there’s a subplot I’ve totally forgot to talk about. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper’s been bugging the chief of police about how he knows how to sneak into the arena, but he’s been talked down again and again. Another cop leads him away and starts talking about how Piper vs. Bad News Brown at Wrestlemania 6 was his favorite match ever. Jesus, really? Of all the Piper matches to call your favorite… Forget it. Back to the story.

Piper beats up the cop and steals his uniform so he can sneak into the arena. That last sentences is only portrayed through the recap page. Even Champagne doesn’t seem to care about this subplot. Piper corners Josiah backstage and proceeds to get his ass positively handed to him. Shadow King arrives and kills Josiah again for his failure to sacrifice Triple H.

Triple H goes to save Michaels, who is now unconscious from the beating at the hands of Edge and Jericho. You know how Jericho’s Shade was able to clear the ring of everyone with no opposition? Wait until you see what happens when TWO Shades take on one man! Come on, Triple H! How are you going to face the power ofโ€”

Oh, come ON!

The Shadow King finally makes his presence known and walks down the ramp to challenge his brother.

The last issue begins after the fact, where the wrestlers are being questioned by the police. Look at how sad Kane is.

Aw… It almost makes you want to give him a big hug, except, you know, he’d probably strangle you or make you vote Ron Paul.

Michaels tells the chief of police that the entire thing was part of the show. Those Shade creatures? Just special effects. A laser light show accidentally turned on by Josiah. It’s all fake, you know?

Let’s go back a couple hours. Backstage, Josiah appears out of nowhere to bitchslap Rey Mysterio. Cena jumps out behind a door and attacks him. It takes the combined might of Big Show, Piper and the drugged Cena to stand up to Josiah. Cena pulls off the stupidest move in the comic by bragging that he has Josiah’s detonator by holding it up to Josiah’s face. He easily snatches it out of Cena’s hands and presses the button to set off all the charges.

As for the big Triple H vs. Shadow King fight, here’s the gist of it:

Triple H: Haha, beating you up is so easy, brother!
Shadow King: Aha! But I just stole away a bunch of innocent people with my shadow walls and I won’t give them back unless you give up, brother!
Triple H: Damn it, fine! I give up, brother!
Shadow King: Fool! I’m going back on my word, brother!
*bomb goes off*
Triple H: Back to kicking your ass then, brother!
Shadow King: Time for my true form, brother!
Triple H: Yo, Undertaker!
Undertaker: Snuh?
Triple H: Promise me you’ll keep it a secret that I’m really the Messiah.
Undertaker: Yeah, okay.
Triple H: Cool. My brother’s too powerful so I’m going to simply vanish and we’re going to take this fight elsewhere. Laters.

While this is going on, we see Piper and Big Show trying to save Cena from the wreckage. Nearby, Jericho and Edge try to sneak off with the body of Josiah. Suddenly, Cena erupts into a bright, blue light and he, Edge and Jericho disappear completely with no explanation. Maybe they all realized that they’re truly falling in love with Scott Pilgrim and vanished as a defense mechanism.

In the crumbling arena, Undertaker finds Triple H’s sledgehammer.

Mickie’s colored wrong again.

It’s really glossed over that a shitload of people probably died from that explosion. At least from the raining debris. That was the big warning up to that point. Don’t make a move or a bunch of innocent people die. Then a bunch of innocent people die and it’s like, “Eh. It happens.”

The last page has the chief of police confront Undertaker as the Dead Man gets ready to ride his bike. The policeman taunts him about how he knows that everyone was lying. He is part of the Shadow King’s cult and they’re just getting started. He brings up that Vince McMahon has also gone missing but before he can go on further, he’s punched down by the Undertaker.

“Shut your damn mouth! You picked the wrong damn group to start a war with. I’m making it my personal mission to bring your little cult down. So bring it on. Next time, we’ll be waiting.”

Then he rides off and we’re given advertisements for the next WWE Heroes storyline, Undertaker: Dead Man Walking.

Undertaker and Rey Mysterio climbing a pyramid and kicking zombies? Count me in.

At the end of the day, I’m glad I read this comic. It’s a perfect storm of the kind of comic I like to riff on. There are mistakes all over the place. It’s too strange to exist at times and makes me laugh because of it. It’s harmless fun that isn’t stepping on anyone’s toes. It’s the Doom comic of this generation.

Last thing, though. John Morrison is kind of weird in WWE Heroes. Everyone is drawn in the same general style, but I swear it always looks like John Morrison is a Todd Nauck character.

Maybe it’s just me.

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8 comments to “WWE Can Be Heroes for Just One Day”

  1. Man, I really do wish Titan had kept sending me this comic… it got even more fucked up after the third issue. And, really, “WWE Heroes: Timequake”????

  2. TimeQuake is obviously the brilliant return of Shock Master.

  3. I don’t know pro wrestling but I’m tempted to start reading this book, because I sense that the draw for it is so close to that of comics that even though I know next to nothing about that world, I can’t abide criticism of it as an interest. It seems to have predicted decades beforehand – and made wildly successful – two big trends in American TV: 1) manufactured “reality” spectacle, and 2) continuity-heavy serial plots in “reality TV” and really almost everywhere else they can fit them now, comedies, dramas, kids’ cartoons, everything. Just like comics.

    It feels like when I went back to Doom Patrol and noticed that Morrison wrote about a superhero with a reality TV show back in 1989 to make fun of How Japan is Weird and Gross, as was the style at the time.

    So I’m very willing to read an entertainingly terrible comic about wrestling is really the point, I guess, because it’s hard to make the Devil appear as the special referee at the Coliseum in Greensboro.

  4. […] the bell over and over until he reverts. Edit- WWE Heroes review from 4L! Featuring Jeri-Jojo. http://www.4thletter.net/2010/09/wwe…-just-one-day/ Last edited by 4neqs; Today at 07:21 AM. "But that's SRK for you. SFIV could have a […]

  5. Haha great review Gavok.this comic it’s, stupid and full of mistakes and yet it’s incredibly fan.I can’t wait to see what’s coming next
    P.S.Also Notice that in the third issue at the one side of the ring has a summerslan logo but some panels later it has the wreslemania logo again

  6. I think I should pick up this comic. ๐Ÿ˜›

    That Cena pic is awesome. :))

  7. All I can say is that this was brilliant. My comic store stopped getting issues after the second so I couldn’t keep up with it myself.

    Here’s hoping The Euro-Kliq (Wade, Sheamus, and Drew) and AmDrag get included in the next storyline! Imagine what their Shades would look like!

  8. Hey, Snuka did *not* beat his girlfriend to death. He stabbed and threw a hooker through a hotel window. Note: no beating and no girlfriend, just stabbing and defenestration.