After I really, really, really did not like WWE Heroes #1, Titan still sent me the second issue and, guess what, it’s a marked improvement. To find out how much of one, read the full review below and beware spoilers.
Title: WWE Heroes #2
Story by: Keith Champagne
Art by: Andy Smith
Colours by: Hi Fi Color Design
Letters by: Comicraft
Cover by: Andy Smith, Steve Pugh
Publisher: Titan Comics
Cover price: $3.99 (USD)
Release Date: April 27th, 2010
While I wasn’t a fan of the writing in the first issue, the art was more problematic for me with a rushed, unfinished look, and an inability to capture the looks of the WWE superstars. All of the wrestlers had the same body type and often blended together. In a few cases, I couldn’t tell who certain guys were. That’s a problem that’s solved in this issue. While Andy Smith doesn’t always nail the looks of every guy, he does a much better job with most of them. More than that, his art has a much more polished look overall, looking more to the level that he normally draws at.
He does have a problem with the larger cast, many characters looking rough and simplistic. A gathering of all of the wrestlers in the ring is just flat-out awful in places with barely-there characters and a constantly-changing group of people. It’s very sloppy — and, yes, drawing the large cast is problematic, but, if that’s the case, they should have settled on a specific cast and showed that consistently throughout. Characters who are next to one another in one panel are moved in the next or drift in and out of the scene as it progresses. I wasn’t aware Rey Mysterio was actually in the ring until he was leaving it and said something to Triple H.
The issue opens with the beginning of a match between the Undertaker and Triple H at WrestleMania and Smith’s choreography is pretty good. It looks and feels like the beginning of the match with Trips attacking ‘Taker with a sledghammer as he comes down the ramp. I could be nit-picky about some elements like the Undertaker not wearing his hat or taking off his jacket as he walks down the ramp, but that’s just wrestling smark bullshit on my part. There are a lot of small things like that that I could nitpick on… which you could see as a problem, but doesn’t really get in the way of the issue.
One of the things that bothered me personally about the art in the issue, though, is seeing Eddie Fatu aka Umaga in the background of some of the panels. This is partly personal distate at seeing a dead wrestler in a comic, but also a question of production since Fatu was let go from the WWE on June 8, 2009, dying of cute toxicity due to combined effects of hydrocodone, carisoprodol, and diazepam on December 4, 2009. Given that this comic didn’t come out until now, he should have been somehow eliminated from the background (unless it’s an issue of his family receiving some money for his likeness being used, of course). It just looks unprofessional, honestly, especially when the ring says “WrestleMania XXVI” and clearly shows that changes could have been made easily.
The plot of this issue is fairly simple: terrorists take over WrestleMania, forcing Triple H and the Undertaker to wrestle to the death. The terrorists are led by the King of Shadows in disguise as his priest from last issue, while Triple H is apparently the Firstborn. Keith Champagne gets the right tone with the wrestlers, playing somewhere between the idea of them as performers and actual wrestlers. They’re all freaked out by the terrorist take-over as much as anyone else, only Triple H knowing what’s happening.
Though, Chris Jericho doesn’t fall in line and is dealt with. I don’t mind that as much as a commentor to my first review does. I do mind that Jericho is one of the few guys that really don’t look like themselves. But, the idea of showing wrestlers being killed is one that I can understand as a sore spot with some. It doesn’t bother me, because this is clearly a fantasy book. It isn’t meant to comment on wrestlers’ deaths in the real world. But, that’s me.
The comic is over-the-top and bombastic. One place where it works is the match-to-the-death between Triple H and the Undertaker if only for Andy Smith making sure to show Trips doing a facebuster on the Undertaker. I kind of wish he did the complete routine: facebreaker, spinebuster, big flex, pedigree. Then again, the idea that the Undertaker would lose at WrestleMania to Trips… come on!
Generally, I don’t have a lot of specific complaints with this issue. The story is bland and cartoonish, the art is rough in some places, but it’s a big step up from last issue. I’m still not entirely convinced that it will be able to show wrestling action strongly. We get a little here, but not much.
Also, there’s a lot of standing around for a lot of characters. With a cast this big, Champagne is relying on us knowing who people are, except who they are in the WWE and who they are in WWE Heroes are two different things. There aren’t any characters to really latch onto here or connect with. The closest we get is Triple H and he’s not the best choice for that role given the end of this issue. I’m not entirely sure still what the point of the comic is or where it’s going. I don’t know what the reality of it is. I plan to keep on writing about the book so long as I get sent issues, so we’ll see.