Mickey Rourke’s turn in the celebrated 2008 drama The Wrestler showed just how real the “fake” world of professional wrestling can be, but there’s more than one story to be told.
Michael Kingston’s indie series Headlocked takes up that challenge, as it documents the struggles of young wrestling fan Mike Hartman as he attempts to break into the industry. Beneath the masks, costumes and colorful tights are men and women with real lives and real problems — something Hartman sees for himself when he’s taken under the wing of an aging wrestler named Mr. Destruction, who’s looking for a comeback.
One of the real stars of the book is the second volume’s artist, Michel Mulipola, whose dynamic, polished work makes professional wrestling look real and outlandish at the same time. That comes, as it turns out, from the fact that Mulipola has worked for the past eight years as a part-time wrestler, in addition to drawing comics and selling them in his comic store, Arkham City Comics.
And like superheroes, you don’t necessarily have to be a wrestling fan to enjoy this book. At its heart, it’s about the struggles of someone in a strange new career — it’s The Godfather except instead of the mafia it’s pro wrestling (which has nearly has many secrets as crime families).