The Undertaker Comic Part 1: No-Selling in Ink Form

October 31st, 2009 Posted by Gavok

The history of the WWF/WWE can more or less be broken up into eras. There’s the Golden Age, followed by the Hogan Era, followed by the New Generation, followed by the Attitude Era, followed by the Crossover Era, followed by the Cena Era. At least, that’s how I see it. The Attitude Era is easily the most successful era, regarded for bringing wrestling into the media forefront. Chronologically, it begins with Stone Cold Steve Austin’s rise as a top face and ends with Wrestlemania 17, where Austin turns on the fans shortly after the company had freshly bought their competition, WCW.

Professional wrestling was at its apex during this era, mostly due to WWF and WCW trying to outdo each other. It seems silly now, but the idea of a WWF comic was pretty natural back then. In 1999, Chaos Comics got the rights to the property and let loose with a handful of comics. Mankind, The Rock and Chyna each got their own one-shot, while Steve Austin got a four-issue miniseries. I’ll save those for a later day.

Today I’m going to discuss The Undertaker’s comic. Unlike the others, he got a full-blown series out of the deal. It lasted 10 issues, plus specials. On one hand, it makes sense. Undertaker was always one of the most unrealistic and open-ended characters in the WWF. On the other hand, during the release of this series, Undertaker was the top heel of the company. We’re basically meant to root for the WWF’s top villain.

I’ll get into a who’s who for those uninitiated with wrestling in a bit, but first I’ll go over the Undertaker Halloween Special. While it did come out towards the end of the series, it doesn’t exactly fit in with anything and makes as a good introduction to the four wrestling-based characters.

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Kramden/Albano Team Up ‘88

July 8th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Some people believe I always go out of my way to search for weird comics. Not always. The truth is that most of the time, weird comics go out of their way to find me.

For instance, one day I’m flipping through some back issues, when I find a batch of issues for a Honeymooners comic from the mid-80’s. I didn’t even know there was a Honeymooners series. I’m still not certain why there was one in the 80’s, considering the show was long dead and gone for decades. Now that I think about it, it does give me hope for one day reading Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Perfect Strangers.

Okay. So now we have an old sitcom re-imagined into a comic years after the fact. That’s a good start. I looked through the covers and found one that completely stood out. It’s the kind of comic that makes you question the industry and reality itself for allowing such a thing to exist. Ralph Kramden in a comic book? I guess I could buy that.

Ralph Kramden in a comic book, wrestling alongside Captain Lou Albano?! Welcome to flavor country.

Much like the epic battle of Superman and Muhammad Ali, there are plenty of cameos in that crowd. I notice Frankenstein’s monster, Gumby, White Spy, Groucho Marx (obviously not amused by rest-hold spots), Alfred E. Newman and Gorbechaf.

Also note the top right corner. Not only is this issue #7, but it’s #7 of 24. That’s… odd. I guess Triad must have had a two-year contract and decided to flaunt it. Though from what I’ve found, the series didn’t make it past the twelfth issue. No other wrestler cameos, from what I’ve gathered.

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The CHIKARA Comic-to-DVD Cover Gallery

May 31st, 2009 Posted by Gavok

For the past couple years, I’d take a second every once and a while to talk about CHIKARA, an indy wrestling organization based out of Philadelphia. Founded by wrestler and head trainer Mike Quackenbush, it’s a school that turned into its own federation. With seven years under its belt, it’s grown to have its own cult following and for good reason.

I regularly bring guests to their shows, tending to take those along who know little or nothing to do with wrestling. They always have a blast. Where else can you see a mute sea monster in a muscle suit team up with a amateur wrestling Rocky Balboa against two clown-like figures dressed up like ice cream people? And not only that, but the wrestling is actually GOOD! It’s routinely funny and the storytelling is top notch.

Back when I first got into it, I did a post about how a bunch of the DVD covers are homages to notable comic book covers. As time went on, the article became a bit popular, but I lost track after a while and kept putting off an update. Now, I think it’s time not to pick up from after I left off, but to redo it from beginning to end. Here we go!

Kids Eat Free On Tuesday & Pick Up Or Delivery
Based on: Flash #123
Features: Mike Quackenbush… and Mike Quackenbush

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Wrestlecomics Interview: Tim Donst. For Reals This Time!

July 24th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

This has been a rather bad week for me, especially on the writing front. I haven’t been able to post much due to a variety of things, but one of them is that I’m writing like 50 projects at once. A new Deadshot’s Tophat installment, a thing on Booster Gold, a thing on Two-Face, a new Ruin the Moment compilation, another compilation of CHIKARA covers based on comics, something on Dark Knight and a bunch of other things I won’t mention in fear of being incriminated when I don’t get around to finishing them.

When my indecision was driving me absolutely cross-eyed, CHIKARA’s own Tim Donst showed up to slap some sense into me. He was interested in an interview. God bless him.

Now, you may be saying, “Say, didn’t you interview Tim Donst already?” Well, yes and no. Months back, I tried, but young Timothy was in a rather unique situation. Due to a knock on the head and some brainwashing, Tim had become a member of UltraMantis Black’s sinister group, the Order of the Neo-Solar Temple. That worked out in regards to how the abbreviation “ONST” makes up most of his name, but it kind of soured my interview. Rather than getting any real answers, I just had UltraMantis Black answering on Tim’s behalf. The scoundrel.

Ah! But it was merely a ruse. Tim Donst wasn’t brainwashed after all. He was just a spy, working to gain UltraMantis’ trust and exploit it for information. With his work done, he escaped the Order’s clutches unscathed and went back to his patriotic and wholesome ways.

Only, while a member of the Order, Tim struck up a bizarre friendship with Hydra, the Starscream/Beast Man to UltraMantis’ Megatron/Skeletor. The two of them acquired the three consecutive wins necessary to garner a title shot against the tag champs. But after the truth about Tim’s behavior was revealed, UltraMantis was less than pleased.

Thankfully, it didn’t take long for Hydra to turn against UltraMantis and form a level of BFFitude between an American icon and a sea creature unseen since Captain America and Namor! In fact, all we need is Fire Ant and we have the CHIKARA version of the Invaders!

On to the interview!

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Wrestlecomics Interview: Gavok Battles Shayne Hawke at Snarkfest ’08!

June 12th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

Yep. It’s already time for another interview, this time with an honest-to-Gog comic fan. First, I should point out that it’s been a while since I’ve done any articles that compare the CHIKARA DVD covers to their comic book counterparts, but I should be getting around to that next week. I hope.

In the meantime, check out this awesome cover of Café Culture, featuring Claudio Castagnoli.

Obviously, that’s based on the comic cover where… uh… Despero was… er… enjoying a cup of coffee. Yeah.


So! This time I get to interview Shayne Hawke, a charismatic youngster in the CHIKARA ranks with a lot going for him. He’s entered in this weekend’s Young Lions Cup 6 tournament, convinced he’s going to make it to the end and acquire the championship trophy. Meanwhile, he and his raspy mentor Mitch Ryder have won three tag matches in a row, thereby earning them a title shot against the tag champs Delirious and Hallowicked.

Shayne Hawke agreed to meet me up on the 4th Letter Helicarrier for an interview, mainly as an excuse to keep his pale hide out of the sun for a few minutes. I mean, that’s not what he told me, but I got that vibe just from looking at him. Anyway, the interview.

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Wrestlecomics Interview: Gavok Talks to Tim Donst… Sort of. Kind of. Not Really.

May 17th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

CHIKARA is getting set for another group of shows, so once again I’m capitalizing by badgering one of their wrestlers. This time, it’s Tim Donst, an American icon who mixes the best traits of Rick Steiner, Rocky Balboa and Dan Hibiki into one red-blooded grappling machine.

As coincidence would have it, my very first CHIKARA show was also young Donst’s first match. Being my first experience with the wacky fed, I was more enamored with the antics of the masked cultists calling themselves the Order of the Neo-Solar Temple, his opponents in a six-man tag match, and paid Tim little mind. Months later, I watched his performance as a singles wrestler at Young Lions Cup V and saw potential in his unique amateur/pro wrestling hybrid style. He just needed an extra, undefined something.

Then came the infamous match against that big bully Eddie Kingston, where the outclassed and overly punished Tim Donst stood up against Kingston’s never-ending in-ring torment and fought back, winning the hearts of the fans in attendance. With his newfound gusto, Tim gained respect in his following matches, no matter whether he won or lost. He even got the last laugh against Kingston by pinning him in a tag match.

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Some Odds and Ends

April 14th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

First off, the latest Comics From the 5th Dimension is up. This time it’s part one of a two-parter where I discuss Luke Cage’s 70’s rogues gallery. I’ve gone over some of it here before, but I go into more detail and discuss why I believe Luke Cage is currently a Skrull.

The mega wrestling site Figure 4 Weekly Online recently had Leonard F. Chikarason as a guest on Dr. Keith’s radio show. You might remember Chikarason’s interview on this site months back. It’s apparent that he does, since he proceeds to give us a quick shout out. What a guy. Even if he does read Countdown.

I should return the favor by mentioning that CHIKARA has shows this upcoming weekend. Saturday is Deuces Wild at Hellertown, PA. Sunday is Passion and Persistence at the ECW Arena. I will be making one or two of the shows in May, but not these shows.

No, instead, I’m going to be at New York Comic Con this weekend. It’s going to be me, hermanos and some of those jokers from Funnybook Babylon. I’ll be the dumbass with the 4th Letter t-shirt, so if you see me, be sure to keep your dirty fucking hands off my nachos. And say hello if you feel like it. I honestly don’t even eat nachos. I don’t know where that came from.

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Wrestlecomics Interview: Plagued by the Osirian Portal!

February 20th, 2008 Posted by Gavok

Next Friday I’m going to be taking a 3-day trip to Philly for CHIKARA’s King of Trios tournament. This thing is going to be crazy epic as over these days they are going to hold a tournament of 28 teams of 3. That’s 84 guys in there!

Other than the CHIKARA mainstays, teams are coming in from other independent wrestling feds and several other countries. It even has some stranger attractions like a team of Kaiju Big Battel monsters and a team made up of 80’s legends Demolition Ax, Demolition Smash and the One Man Gang.

I figured this was as good an excuse as any to get another CHIKARA interview down. This time I chose to interview the Osirian Portal, a tag team made up of the insidious human cobra Ophidian and the cold dancing machine Amasis.

The Bangles used to have nightmares that looked like this.

Ophidian debuted back in July at Showdown in Crisisland. After a couple weeks of build-up, he made his first appearance by taking on fan-favorite Player Uno. Showing off his viperlicious attack style and slithering to and from the ring rather than actually walking, Ophidian got everyone’s attention by knocking out Player Uno with a Cobra Clutch combined with leg scissors.

In September, at the show called Cibernetico and Robin, he was joined by Amasis, the Funky Pharaoh. As the Osirian Portal, they won their initial match against veterans Jigsaw and Shane Storm. Despite Amasis’ mastery of mixing wrestling with dancing, he still comes off as annoyed and with little patience when it comes to the CHIKARA crowds.

As it turns out, these guys don’t actually read comics. Well, not anymore at least. When Amasis wasn’t looking, Ophidian slipped me a note talking about how “Sssssspawn” is still the greatest superhero ever. Man, these guys really are evil. Nonetheless, I couldn’t pass the chance of interviewing two grown men dressed as up like Egyptian supervillains.

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Headlocked: A Fake Truth About Fakeness

January 23rd, 2008 Posted by Gavok

It’s a good time to be Gavok because in just a couple days, I’ll be going to the WWE Royal Rumble in Madison Square Garden. The event has always been my own little “Wrestling Christmas” and I look forward to it every year. I felt that I needed to prepare in my own little way.

Like I recently acquired the DVD set of all 20 Royal Rumble shows in a big, white cube. Considering I also have a collection of the first 20 Wrestlemanias sitting around, gathering dust, I figured I would watch them all in chronological order. Right now I’m in the middle of Wrestlemania 9 (taking place in 1993). I figure by the time I’m completely caught up, it’ll be time for this year’s Wrestlemania.

That at least explains why I’ve been kind of lax here lately, though it’s hardly noticeable with the good job hermanos and Hoatzin have been doing. I knew I needed to do another Wrestlecomic article. I could cover the Chaos Comics WWF stuff from the late-90’s, but I think I’ll wait until I reach those years in my Royal Rumble/Wrestlemania watching to dive into that. I found a guy selling a manga from what appears to be the same people behind the Hulk Hogan manga, making a big deal about a huge battle royal featuring a bunch of big 80’s wrestlers.

I got the idea that this was some big all-star crossover fight that would last for an entire comic, so even if I couldn’t read any of it, I could at least follow what was going on. When I got my book, I discovered that this battle royal was extremely brief. I tried pretending I could follow what was going on in the manga, but it wasn’t working. I know when I’m beat. At least the Engrish cover refers to the story as “Super Real Fiction!” which, now that I think about it, is a strangely accurate description of professional wrestling.

So the manga thing was a bust. Now what? I decided that if fishing in the past wasn’t going to work, I’d see what’s going on in the present. I picked up a comic called Headlocked: Work of Art, written by Michael Kingston and drawn by Randy Valiente.

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CHIKARA Cover: Tim Donst is Pretty Good at What He Does, Bub

November 21st, 2007 Posted by Gavok

This past weekend was the 2007 season finale for CHIKARA. The third and final show ended very badly, when young wrestler Lince Dorado landed wrong during a Shooting Star Senton (if you have any idea what that move means, you can see how it can go very wrong) and caused a major scare. He was taken to the back with the wrestlers, Lince’s family and the fans in fear of his fate. Thankfully, he’s relatively okay, but it could have been a lot worse. The main event of Chris Hero vs. Claudio Castagnoli was cancelled. Despite the year-long build-up, I don’t think anyone objected, considering the circumstances.

I wasn’t at that show, but I did make the one on Saturday. Fantastic stuff, including a main event that gave me some of the biggest laughs I’ve had all year. Being behind on my DVD’s for shows I didn’t have a chance to go to, I shelled out more money than I should have and bought a handful. More specifically, I got myself a copy of Bruised.

Based on Incredible Hulk #181, the battle of the doofy-looking Wolverine and Hulk is replaced with Tim Donst going up against Eddie Kingston. For some reason, they changed the background color and it looks more like a box of Wheaties.

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