Secret War Games: The Marvel WCW Comic Part 2

April 14th, 2007 by | Tags: , , , , ,

We continue our look at the adventures of our Friendly Neighborhood Steve Borden. First, another wrestling history lesson.

This Ghoul storyline looks like it’s really meant to be a mix between two “mystery man” storylines WCW had done a year or so before the comic came out. The first was the infamous Black Scorpion storyline. WCW had done Sting vs. Ric Flair to death. They needed to give Sting a new rival. They came up with the Black Scorpion, a masked man with a distorted voice that would appear in taped segments, taunting Sting. He would bring up their past and how intimately they know each other. Then he’d do magic tricks because, you know, he’s mysterious and stuff.

WCW didn’t actually have any good ideas of who the Black Scorpion would turn out to be, so in the end, they just made him Ric Flair, thereby totally defeating the purpose of this storyline.

The other “mystery man” storyline involved a wrestler called the Halloween Phantom, who defeated the Z-Man at the pay-per-view event Halloween Havoc before unmasking. The following issues are more in tune to this one.

As any wrestling fan can tell you, most of these stories turn out to be convoluted messes by the time they’re done. Kind of like the Clone Saga, now that I think about it.

The next issue (we’re on #4, if you’ve lost track) begins with the new tag team of the Diamond Studd and Stunning Steve going up against the fictional cannon fodder Jersey Jerry and Mangy Matt. First a little something on Stunning Steve.

Stunning Steve

Stunning Steve Austin would spend several years in WCW as a highly-talented heel. He started off with long, luxurious, blond hair, but as time progressed, he started balding. He cut his hair short and formed a team with Flyin’ Brian Pillman called the Hollywood Blonds. Eventually, Austin would be fired, as the owner of WCW at the time decided that someone as basic-looking as him would never break out into a major star. In the WWF, Austin wrestled as the Ringmaster for a few months before coming up with an idea for a borderline serial killer persona. He shaved his head completely, called himself Stone Cold Steve Austin and became one of the all-time most popular wrestling personalities in the history of the business.

The commentary for this issue’s series of matches are done by Jim Ross and Johnny B. Badd. Badd – who is drawn so fruity here that he’s actually kind of scary – spends most of the night making comments about his rival the Z-Man. For instance, “Y’know why there’s no ice cubes at Z-Man’s house? Nobody gave him the recipe! Haw haw haw!”

The tag match, as expected, is totally one-sided. While Steve finishes off Jersey Jerry with the Stun Gun, Jim Ross and Johnny B. Badd discuss other WCW matters. Cactus Jack has been suspended for his involvement in the Bruise Cruise bomb threat. A week ago, the Steiner Brothers have won the tag titles. Not that we were ever told who held the titles before them. In addition, they kind of dropped the idea that Sting is supposed to be the US Champion as well.

Because the WCW heavyweight title has been vacated, they’re going to have Sting and the Ghoul fight it out as the main event. The winner will get the gold. That makes absolutely no sense that someone like the Ghoul, who has yet to wrestle a match, would be passed over guys like Ron Simmons and Vader, but wrestling’s always goofy like that.

Having finished their match, Stunning Steve and Diamond Studd announce that they have a new manager: Paul E. Dangerously. Shortly later, it’s made known that Dangerously is also representing Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton, calling his stable the Dangerous Alliance.

Paul E. Dangerously

Paul E., real name Paul Heyman, was a heel commentator in WCW for a while. He actually shows up in the first issue, but it wasn’t important enough to mention at the time. Like here, he would one day lead a team of heel wrestlers calling themselves the Dangerous Alliance. He’d always carry a cell phone with him, which were big and bulky enough in the early 90’s to be successfully used as a weapon when the ref wasn’t looking. After leaving WCW, Heyman would start up Extreme Championship Wrestling, which took the third place spot after WWF and WCW. The in-ring and storyline quality was high up there, but due to Heyman’s inability to compete with the money of Vince McMahon and Ted Turner, he watched any talented and popular ECW wrestlers jump ship to higher pay. This led to the WWF buying ECW and assimilating it into its own product.

Next up is PN News (a wrestling version of rapper Heavy D) vs. fictional wrestler, Zoltan the Magnificent. Again, I’m happy that this is done comic style, because matches between big guys like this are usually the hardest to watch in live action. To no surprise, PN News has no trouble winning and we can wave goodbye to his fat ass. This is his last appearance in the comic. While guys like Lex Luger and El Gigante are written off because they leave the company for the WWF, it’s different for Mr. News. In the real WCW, during a match, he had accidentally broken the leg of wrestler David Sheldon, forever ending his wrestling career. PN News was taken off TV for the remainder of his contract and removed from the comic as part of it. The way they deal with this is actually kind of interesting, but we’ll get to that in a little bit.

Commentator Johnny B. Badd continues to mock the Z-Man, only to be shocked when Z-Man appears to confront him.

Just look at Sting. He’s asking for a beating.

The Ghoul steps out from behind the curtain in different attire than what we’re used to. Instead of a simple black mask, he has a green skull mask and some green bone designs attached to his dark green tights. The three commentators and Sting himself are in awe at this competitor and even Sting is afraid of his chances. All the guy did was walk out in a skeleton costume. Nobody ever pissed themselves looking at La Parka or Mortis.

The match begins and it’s mostly even. Ghoul has the advantage, considering he knows all about Sting and Sting knows nothing about the Ghoul. At one point, Sting gets the Ghoul into his submission finisher, the Scorpion Deathlock, but the Ghoul escapes by grabbing Sting by the hair. I’m not quite as limber as the Ghoul here, but I’m pretty sure that isn’t anatomically possible.

Throughout the match, it gets more and more obvious who the Ghoul is under the mask. After knocking Sting down, he puts his hands on the back of his head and starts gyrating his hips. At one point, he hits Sting with a two-handed neck-breaker, momentarily knocking him out. The only reason he didn’t win was because he just didn’t feel like pinning Sting yet.

Meanwhile, outside the ring, Z-Man has had enough of Johnny B. Badd’s insults. He yells at Badd, apologizes to Jim Ross and storms off. Badd reacts with, “You see that, Jimbo? The most unprofessional conduct my pretty eyes’ve ever seen!”

In the ring, the Ghoul continues to lay into Sting for the sake of injuring him. Finally, Ron Simmons runs out to aid his friend. The Ghoul ends up stealing Z-Man’s discarded chair and smashes Simmons with it. He hits Sting and then accidentally nails the referee, disqualifying himself. Simmons is on his way to his feet, but Ghoul just hits him in the face with the title belt.

Paul E. Dangeriously and his Dangerous Alliance run into the ring and discard the beaten Sting and Ron Simmons. Paul E. announces that the Ghoul is a member of the Alliance and despite not winning the match, Paul E. deems him the WCW champion. The Ghoul grabs the microphone and then grabs the back of his mask.

“What I’d like to have right now – is for all of you fat, out of shape, diaper-wearing couch potatoes to keep the noise down! While I take this mask off—“

Wow. How surprising. Back to the Halloween Phantom story from earlier in the article, the Phantom did indeed turn out to be Rick Rude and Paul E. did become his manager. So I guess this is like the Ultimate Phantom or something. This little plot thread isn’t nearly as dead as you’d think. After all, where’s Max? You remember Max, right?

The next issue is advertised as having War Games. War Games is a team vs. team match, where they staple two rings together and put a cage around it. Wrestlers come out at random every few minutes, changing the teams’ odds at a whim. A team loses after one of the teammates gives up. I’m sure they were going to have 5 vs. 5 in the comic, with Sting and friends vs. the Dangerous Alliance, but they had to cut it down to 4 vs. 4. The Diamond Studd took off from WCW and journeyed to the WWF. He never did actually join the Dangerous Alliance in the real WCW, but it was definitely planned. Guess the comic jumped the gun.

If you’re sick of me sounding like a broken record, don’t worry about it. As far as I can tell, Studd is the last instance of someone making the jump to the WWF mid-comic and screwing with the story.

By the way, the cover’s blurb said, “When Dangerous Alliances are formed… it means trouble for the new WCW champion Sting!” The hell?

Before moving on, let’s take a look at Ravishing Rick Rude.

Rick Rude

That above speech just about says it all. Rude spent most of his career as a heel, mixing his sleazy, narcissistic nature with some decent wrestling skill and a body that looked like it was cut from a diamond. During the aforementioned Halloween Phantom thing, he had just left the WWF for WCW. He would bounce back and forth a couple more times, even becoming notable for being on WWF Monday Night Raw (taped) and WCW Monday Nitro (live) on the same night. Sadly, Rude died in 1999 due to heart complications that came from mixing medication.

The next issue includes a warm-up match where Cactus Jack makes his return to quickly beat Big Josh (an actual wrestler this time, surprisingly) via count-out. There’s also a Missy Hyatt interview segment involving lame-as-hell wrestler Van Hammer, but I’ll get back to that later.

War Games time. A few paragraphs up, I mentioned the whole concept where everyone would come out randomly. They dropped that here, just because it’s a comic and there are only so many pages. The Dangerous Alliance (Rude, Austin, Eaton and Anderson) come in together as a team. The Z-Man, being dumber than a bag of rocks, comes out alone.

Anyone else notice that Steve Austin is balding within the comic?

Maybe Badd was right. I didn’t watch when Tom Zenk was wrestling in WCW, but this comic does make him look about as worthless as MODOK in a game of charades. While he’s getting creamed, his teammates, Sting and the Steiner Brothers, come rushing in. From there, the faces fight back for a little bit, but they’re just outclassed. Not to mention the heels use Paul E.’s cell phone and a bucket of red paint as weapons. With the Steiners and Z-Man beaten, the four easily pick apart Sting and hold him against the ropes.

Sting would never give up for his own sake, but seeing these guys pound on Z-Man is too much for him. Sting gives up, thereby ending the match. For the main hero, Sting certainly sucks as a wrestler. Five issues in and he’s only won a match against some no-name they made up for the comic. Paul E. taunts Sting some more and lays into Z-Man with some kicks for good measure. All of the sudden, there’s a new entry.

To everyone’s surprise, Johnny B. Badd starts unloading on Rick Rude and the rest of the Dangerous Alliance.

“Z-Man is a friend of mine! But he turned the other cheek! At first, I smacked it a few times, but then I realized! If he wanted me as a friend, then maybe he’s not such a bad guy, maybe I was wrong. So I want y’all to remember – that just because I’m bad, doesn’t mean I’m not good! Now scoot!”

The first two lines there don’t exactly fit together, but it’s okay. All in all, I kind of dig the motivation. The Dangerous Alliance, despite outnumbering Badd, run for the hills and Rude accidentally drops his title belt on the way. I tell you, if I was a paying fan in the audience, I’d be pissed. That match had to have been no longer than five minutes and it was almost completely one-sided.

Whaaaa?! The Ghoul, now wearing his green skeleton costume says that he’s glad that Sting is being run ragged by the Dangerous Alliance. Thanks to the misdirection in having Rick Rude wrestle in the Ghoul’s costume last issue, Sting has no idea that the Ghoul is really a separate entity after all. The Ghoul will wait for Sting to win the WCW title, as then Sting will have something worth stealing. DUN DUN DUNNNN!

Seriously. What?

Let’s get back to the PN News thing I alluded to. When you’re no longer allowed to use a character in your comic, how should you write him off? Should you:

a) Have him get beaten down, thereby downplaying his importance.
b) Completely ignore that he ever existed.
c) Tauntingly replace his gimmick.

Mike Lackey went with answer number c here. Over the course of two issues, Heavy Metal Van Hammer feuds with yet another made-up wrestler, Punch Fresh. Punch Fresh, a large black wrestler with gold chains and a fedora, is introduced as a way to erase anyone’s memory of PN News. Not only is he pretty much a heel version of PN News, but they would refer to him as “the only rapper in WCW”. Real nice.

After an altercation during an interview segment, the two have a match, with Van Hammer winning. Neither is heard from again.

The commentary team for this issue is Jim Ross, Johnny B. Badd and Paul E. Dangerously. Badd uses his energy to make fun of Paul’s baldness as they watch the Steiners defending their titles against Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton. Despite being injured, Rick and Scott have little trouble taking apart their opponents and winning the match.

As it’s been since issue #2, there’s still no heavyweight champion. Now that Rick Rude no longer carries the stolen belt around, WCW is able to have a new match to crown the champion. This time it’s Sting vs. Cactus Jack. Cactus Jack, who you might remember, conducted a terrorist attempt to blow up a boat filled with hundreds of innocent people. Again, Ron Simmons gets overlooked. Ron, I hate to say this, but there’s a time to play the card and now would be that time.

Missy Hyatt interviews Cactus Jack while Johnny B. Badd interviews Sting. After the interview, there’s no sign of Badd. Paul E. returns to the broadcast booth, laughing his ass off and telling Jim Ross jokes about Alaska while dismissing the idea that he knows what happened to Badd. I’m sure you can draw your own conclusions.

Sting vs. Cactus Jack is a fun little fight. Despite Cactus Jack acting less like a sinister psychopath and more like a wacky caveman, this is really the best we can expect from the comic. I do notice that in one panel, Jack looks exactly like William Murderface from Dethklok.

The action goes back and forth until Sting gets Jack in the Scorpion Deathlock. Rick Rude races to the ring, causing Sting to drop the hold in distraction. Jack attempts an illegal pin by holding Sting’s tights, but Sting kicks out. He tosses Jack into the corner ringpost, hits the Stinger Splash (where he runs and moshes into him), punches the approaching Rick Rude out of the ring and then pins the squealing Cactus Jack.

The issue ends with Sting holding the title, screaming, “This is for all of my little Stingers! EXCELLENT!!!”

This is then followed up by a promotional page for the WCW comic that still features Lex Luger, El Gigante and PN News.

The next issue goes through a match between Ron Simmons and Cactus Jack with “falls count anywhere” rules. Jack pins Simmons in the consession stand and does a promo about how he’s going to hurt Sting. Next is Rick Rude easily taking apart made-up jobber Neanderthal Nel with only two moves. Paul E. and the rest of the Dangerous Alliance come into the ring. Paul E. bestows his team with tailored-made belts, because, hey, who needs the real WCW titles?

This entire plotline is forgotten about immediately.

Backstage, Cactus Jack is greeted by the ever-mysterious Max. Jack is pissed, as after the bomb incident, he hadn’t heard a single word from Max or the Ghoul, nor has he received any of his promised payment. Max talks him down and offers him even more money to take care of Sting. This scene is stained with something none of us ever wanted to see: Cactus Jack in a towel.

I guess it’s better than Cactus Jack without a towel, but still.

Sting goes out to the arena for an interview, talking about how great it is being the champion. All of the sudden, Cactus Jack runs out and hits him in the back of the head with a shovel. As face-paint-wearing children scream and cry (“Mom! Make him stop!”), Cactus Jack jumps off a platform and hits Sting with an elbow drop. Cactus cheers to the booing crowd and runs off.

Backstage, Max has disguised himself as a doctor. Jim Ross and Missy Hyatt don’t recognize him, but he uses his hypnotic powers to make them leave. Sting admits that he doesn’t remember anything. He doesn’t even know his own name.

A couple panels later, he says, “I’m scared, Max. More scared than I’ve ever been of anything in my life.”


Max tells Sting of who he is and starts working his hypnotism magic. He makes Sting believe that they’re friends and while he does tell him about how he’s the WCW champion and all, he makes the champ believe that he hates all his peers. They say they’re his friends, but they just want his title. The only wrestler who Sting can trust is the man he’s known since before he’s become a wrestler.

The Ghoul walks out from the shadows and shakes the confused Sting’s hand.

The next issue doesn’t follow up on that. Instead, it’s a flashback that takes place in-between Sting winning the title and his amnesia. Lackey takes a break from writing and puts Matt Tolbert at the helm. If any issue can be construed as “sort of good”, it’s this one.

Sting narrates over how he once received a knee injury after receiving a mass-beating backstage. He never gave up hope and continued to work towards a full recovery, which then allowed him to win both the US and heavyweight titles. We see that he’s giving this speech to a bunch of children at a pediatric hospital.

The first half of the issue deals with Sting mingling around the children’s hospital. He cheers up wheelchair kids, kids with cancer and even a little girl with AIDS. A lot of it has to do with Sting’s struggle with helplessness. He wants to do so much, but he’s just a man. The only way he can possibly help is by showing up, flexing and saying, “Hey kids! I rassle on the teevee!”


Sting spends his time giving out free WCW baseball caps, lifting wheelchairs one-handed to show how strong he is, playing video games with kids to weak too leave their beds (“Okay, Logan, but I’m warning you, I’m also the champion of Double Dragon.”) and almost crying when some kid says that news of Sting’s hospital visit has made him such a celebrity at school that he wonders if Sting wants his autograph.

While all the kids are so star-struck, there’s one kid who just walks outside and sits by himself. Sting wanders over and tries to cheer him up. The kid’s name is Bobby Sandor and he has cancer. He shrugs off Sting’s rhetoric about not giving up and explains how hard it is going through treatment, being constantly weak and having no appetite. He’s lost hope and basically just wants to die. Sting has no real idea how to respond to this, but he gives it a try anyway. As a way to give these kids a boost, he gives them all front-row tickets to the next day’s wrestling event.

At the show, everyone’s excited except for Bobby. The main event is Sting vs. Cactus Jack (*sigh* …again) for the title. As Sting waits in the ring, Cactus sneaks from under the ring apron and slides into the ring with a chair. Bobby screams a warning at Sting, saving our hero. Sting side-steps and kicks Jack out of the ring. Bobby screams some insults at Cactus Jack, giving me one of the biggest laughs of the entire comic series.

You see, like I said in the last installment, Mick Foley, the guy who wrestled as Cactus Jack, wrote three autobiographies. The latest one came out recently and I read it alongside this comic. It’s less about his in-ring experiences and deals more with how great a humanitarian he is. Like Sting in this issue, he visits sick children, mentally handicapped children, horribly injured children in Afghanistan, wounded soldiers, etc. One of the main complaints about the book from most readers is that he spends too much time patting himself on the back about this.

So you can probably understand my laughter when I see Mick Foley, humanitarian and hero to sick kids, physically threatening a little boy with cancer.

Sting saves Bobby and continues the fight with Jack. They brawl both inside and outside the ring. As the match goes on, Sting puts Jack in the Scorpion Deathlock. Rick Rude races out of nowhere and haymakers Sting. Sting’s already won the match via disqualification, but now Rude and Jack are beating down on Sting’s once-injured knee. Bobby screams at Sting to not give up and brings up their heart-to-heart from the night earlier. Sting snaps out of it and smashes Rude and Jack’s heads together. He bodyslams Jack onto the concrete and chases Rude away.

Sting brings Bobby into the ring and lets him wear the title belt. Bobby, now reinvigorated, promises that just like Sting, he won’t give up. He’s going to fight through his illness and won’t lose hope ever. And so this issue and this article end on a positive note.

In the next update: Who is the Ghoul really? What is his master plan? What happened to Johnny B. Badd? And why is there an entire subplot revolving around a chocolate cake?

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4 comments to “Secret War Games: The Marvel WCW Comic Part 2”

  1. ***spoilers***

    The Ghoul is the n.W.o Sting, who may or may not be WWF’s Taxman IRS.

    Answer: May Not.

  2. Mike Rotundo?

    keep up the good work on the reviews

    this is gold!

  3. Huh, Marvel has a RoboCop comic going at the same time this…. thing was made… I wonder if we would have gotten a sequel to this monstrocity http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhfAZ1VpkTE had both comics gone longer

  4. HAHAHA!!! I just found this ….Cactus Jack ( one of my all time favorite wrestlers ) attacking a kid with the same name as me! And cancer to boot!
    How weird is that? Especially since I’ve read “Have A Nice Day” no fewer than 40 times.