Chris’ Comic Book Corner: Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia #1 Review: Get Ready For Thrills And Spills, Brother!
A Review From Christopher Franey
Straight out of Starburns Industries Press comes an invasion of wrestlers that is just a fun dynamic comic to read. While I was reading issue #1 I felt that same energy, excitement, and hyperbole of the WCW/WWF on Saturday mornings as a kid and it was a fantastic revisit to those days. The story by Ed Kuehnel and Matt Entin is a nice mix of nostalgia, romance, and hard knocks that puts “Rock N Roll” Rory Landell’s journey on our radar. Rory starts off as the young up and comer who is going to be the champion; luckily he has a great woman in his corner to motivate and inspire him, but sadly to Rory that isn’t enough…those dreams of being the champion are all he sees. Even the advice he gets from his manager, “Mr. Don Fong Wong”, isn’t enough to stop this head strong wrestler from pursuing the championship. We are introduced to a character that is just tragic enough that you feel for him but you know he can’t be helped until he wants it; very nice opener for the inaugural issue.
To add to Rory Landell’s problems he is going to be bypassed as the new American Wrestling Federation champion in favor of “Boy Scout” Bob Schultz keeping his title for those higher pay-per-view ratings. With this bombshell happening Rory decides to bite the hand that feeds him and during his pre-wresting interview Rory declares himself the “Galactic Champion of the Universe” and I love how that statement will come back to haunt him. Remember earlier how I mentioned nostalgia, well that works perfectly as the story opens back in 1999 and then flashes back to 1984 which would be when Rory makes his bold declaration and those galactic claims finally make it to Planet Wrestletopia fifteen years later. So not only is Rory having a hard time on Earth his problems are about to go universal.
I really enjoyed the dialogue and humor in this first issue as it plays perfectly to the troupes of televised wrestling; all the extravagant build up and multiple use of “brother!” The characters interacted perfectly to establish a history and you do feel for Rory’s girlfriend, Linda, and Mr. Don Fong Wong as they really care for Rory but their hopes for Rory are dashed. The issue does leave you wanting more as we are barely introduced to Manifest Destiny but it will be very exciting to see him go up against Rory, who is currently a washout. If you enjoyed The Wrestler movie then you are going to enjoy this lighter look at a lost hero’s path as it keeps the drama but has just the right amount of laughs to entertain.
The art by Dan Schkade is great as his style is perfect for these larger than life characters but not unbelievable as well. Dan has fantastic layouts for the wrestling scenes that keep the action moving and also provide the slapstick to make it happen. I also appreciate the way the characters aged and retained their look as well; you can see they have been weather by life but you know who they are. Dan’s art is also enhanced by Marissa Louise’s colors and she brings an amazing palette that takes the wrestling ring to the farther corners of the universe and makes that spandex look heroic.
So if you are looking for a great escape and fun time then I would highly recommend this six issue miniseries for you. Comics are always fun but they are even better when you find independent stories that are made with creators who are doing it for the passion and fun of it all; so head on over to Comixology and check out Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia #1.
Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia is a six-issue mini-series created and written by Ed Kuehnel & Matt Entin of Suspicious Behavior Productions, the production company they founded in order to waste money. Social media is here: Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook.
Here is a celebration of one of the Robins, Tim Drake, who first appeared back in August 1989 in Batman #436. It was a quaint appearance and I imagine most fans didn’t even look twice at the panels because the story was Batman Year Three and the focus was on the Post Crisis origin of Dick Grayson. From those humble beginnings Tim Drake has persevered as a character, gained quite a fan base, and even been considered the best Robin. Let us take a dive into the story of Tim Drake.
As I mentioned his first appearance was in a flashback of Year Three and it was in a photograph that would be the last picture of the Flying Graysons. This story arc took place well after A Killing Joke and A Death in the Family so many of the Bat Family members were taken out of the field. The editorial of the time was worried about introducing another Robin since things went so tragically bad with Jason Todd. There was a need for Robin but just how do you get him to be likeable and accepted by the fan base? There was no chance that Dick Grayson would go back as he was widely accepted as Nightwing. Enter Marv Wolfman and George Perez.
These two gentlemen had done wonders for the New Teen Titans and had transformed Dick Grayson into Nightwing. Marv came over and wrote all of Year Three, which had beautiful covers by George, which would lead perfectly into the next story arc, A Lonely Place of Dying. This would be the story that gives us a reason to want Tim Drake as Robin; when Jason became Robin he was stealing tires off the Batmobile, not too heroic a moment. Tim was introduced as a mysterious character and was quite the detective already; he had remembered the Flying Graysons moves and saw Robin using those and from that deduced that Bruce Wayne must be Batman.
In the story, A Lonely Place of Dying, the issues zig-zagged back and forth from Batman and the New Teen Titans issues. Tim had convinced Dick that Batman need Robin, but also some help. Dick came around to it, but just couldn’t go back to being Robin yet he would still help Batman on the case. The case would pick the original Dynamic Duo against Two-Face; who would eventually trap both Batman and Nightwing, so who would save them? Robin would come to the rescue and prove that Robin was needed and Tim could rise to the challenge.
Tim becoming Robin made some major changes to the way the character was perceived. Tim would go on to change the costume bringing in some armor and a new design, computer and detective skills, along with martial arts ability since he had done some training. Tim sadly wasn’t able to avoid the curse that most vigilantes have…losing loved ones. Even before he became Robin he had lost his mother, Janet Drake, to the Obeah Man after she was poisoned in Detective Comics #621 and the story also led to his father, Jack Drake, being paralyzed.
Jack Drake would continue to be a guiding light and sometimes a troubling element in Tim’s life, but the bond of father and son was strong with the two. Years later there would be another story that would affect the DC Universe and Tim Drake himself, Identity Crisis. In Identity Crisis, Tim would be forced to listen in on his father’s emergency call to Oracle and how he had to defend himself from Captain Boomerang; these pages were very intense and it was a sad moment that Tim would find himself too late to stop. Jack did go on to remarry and this would give Tim a step mom in Dana Winters-Drake; sadly after Jack’s death she went in for treatment at a clinic in Bludhaven. Now we have been led to believe that she died there, but writer Fabian Nicieza says otherwise.
Tim has gone onto many other great comics in his time; having had his own successful Robin solo series, leading Young Justice, joining the Teen Titans, and eventually becoming Red Robin. As the Red Robin he did hold faith that Bruce Wayne was still alive and was proven correct with Bruce’s return; along with that he managed to stop Ra’s Al Ghul and earn his respect. Tim currently serves with Young Justice by Brian Michael Bendis and has a new costume and is called the Drake. Here are a couple of stories that I would recommend you check out. Also if you have any other stories you wish to share feel free to leave a relpy here or on our social media outlets as well. Always remember to GEEK OUT!
Batman Year Three: Batman #436-439
A Lonely Place of Dying: Batman #440-442, New Teen Titans #60-61
Identity Crisis #5-6
Red Robin #1-12
Lets recap what has been happening to the Hell Riding Spirit of Vengeance
So if you’re a fan of badasses and vengeance then I’m sure you’re a fan of Ghost Rider. Now with any legacy character the question is who is your favorite rider? Is it the classic Johnny Blaze, radical 90’s Danny Ketch, lady rider Alejandra Jones, car driven Robbie Reyes, or even cosmic Frank Castle? Well this July get ready to watch them either come together or face each other in “The Challenge of the Ghost Riders” by Jason Aaron happening in the Avengers book.
So let us go back to last year and revisit the Doctor Strange Damnation event. Steven Strange tried to fix Las Vegas after the destruction that was visited upon it by Evil Hydra Steve Rogers (Stevil) and when Strange did that it caused Hell on Earth, literally as Mephisto creates Hotel Inferno with all kinds of havoc unleashed. Now this story by Nick Spencer and Donny Cates brought together all kinds of heroes and Johnny Blaze answered the call. While taking on Mephisto, Johnny took advantage of Mephisto’s absence in Hell and became the new King of Hell. Great story and highly recommended, Mitch and I did a podcast over it during our Halloween Heroics and the story is available in trade paperback. Now if you just want some quick reads then I would recommend Damnation: Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider #1 (released 3/29/18 and written by Christopher Sebela) and Doctor Strange: Damnation #4 (released 4/25/18) for Johnny’s main parts in the story. Here are some SPOILERS from that story:
As you can see from those images, Johnny means business; so what has he been doing since becoming the King of Hell? It took a while but in the current volume of Avengers by Jason Aaron he has put out some teasing images for us; with issue 16 we see that Robbie Reyes (the current Ghost Rider) is trapped in Hell with a traffic jam, so a guiding voice has been helping him escape and at the end of the issue we discover it was Johnny Blaze and there will be some business between the two as well. The tease continues in the issue 17 with a panel as well.
The War of the Realms has been happening as the main Marvel event but has finally come to a conclusion and Daredevil with his newfound vision has let us in on some of the upcoming events that will be happening such as the Hell Race, as shown in Avengers issue 20; now I’m guessing this is referring to the Challenge of the Ghost Riders as both are by Jason Aaron.
Now Johnny has been very active and has started showing up in other books. Donny Cates had Blaze come and offer the Cosmic Ghost Rider (a future Frank Castle with the Spirit of Vengeance and Power Cosmic) a chance to race, in the current volume of Guardians of the Galaxy issue 6. We were also treated to the return of Danny Ketch, who was the big Ghost Rider of the 90’s; over in Marvel Comics Presents issue 6 by Ed Brisson. Now don’t worry about getting that issue since it will be crazy expensive with the introduction of another Wolverine daughter, just get the second print which has a great Ghost Rider cover anyways. Johnny made an appearance in that Marvel Comics Presents issue as well and told the villain of the story that he probably won’t like the new management of Hell, right on Johnny! The second printing of MCP #6 will have Diamond code MAY198638 and be available in comic shops on July 24th.
Now let us check out some related comics that will be tie-in issues with the Challenge event and also featuring a Ghost Rider:
- From the June 2019 solicts
MARVEL MASTERWORKS: GHOST RIDER VOL. 1 HC
Written by GARY FRIEDRICH with ROY THOMAS, MARV WOLFMAN & DOUG MOENCH
Penciled by MIKE PLOOG, TOM SUTTON & JIM MOONEY with HERB TRIMPE
Cover by MIKE PLOOG
Johnny Blaze, the Ghost Rider, makes his Marvel Masterworks debut! In 1972, one of the most iconic characters in comics history — the flame-skulled Ghost Rider — burned his demonic presence into readers’ minds! A legion of fans found themselves addicted to the Rider’s combination of hell-on-wheels drama and action-horror adventure. And it all begins here, when Johnny Blaze makes a deal with the devil to save his friend’s life. The payment? Transformation into the Ghost Rider! The stories that follow take the horror hero to Hell to battle Satan, pit him against the tempting Witch-Woman and team him with Daimon Hellstrom, Son of Satan. Written by Gary Friedrich and gloriously illustrated by Mike Ploog, Tom Sutton and Jim Mooney, this iconic series is beautifully restored for this Marvel Masterworks edition! Collecting MARVEL SPOTLIGHT (1971) #5-12 and GHOST RIDER (1973) #1-5.
328 PGS./Rated T …$75.00
Now this is important as we will finally for the first time be getting a collection of the early adventures of Johnny Blaze printed in color with a hardcover edition that will be in comic shops this October. There are plenty of back issues and also reprints of those as well, but this will be part of the Masterworks series and these are top shelf collections. With this publication there just might be something happening to the Rider(s) in October that merit this being available to readers.
- From the July 2019 solicts
JASON AARON (W) • TBA (A) • COVER BY STEFANO CASELLI
CARNAGE-IZED VARIANT COVER BY TBA
The war is over, and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are looking to celebrate. That’s right, there’s a party at Avengers Mountain! But who invited the Squadron Supreme of America?
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
JASON AARON (W) • STEFANO CASELLI (A/C)
CARNAGE-IZED VARIANT COVER BY JUNGGEUN YOON
THE CHALLENGE OF THE GHOST RIDERS STARTS HERE!
Robbie Reyes wants to get rid of the flame-headed monster inside him. So it’s time to do the common sense thing: perform an exorcism on his car. Only problem is, Johnny Blaze, the king of Hell, has some plans of his own for the newest Ghost Rider and his Avengers friends.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
From those covers you can see there will be a demonic theme with the Avengers as Mephisto and Johnny grace those covers. So it looks like the official Challenge will begin and we have Johnny, Danny, and Frank in place. How will they all tie in with the Avengers and will they all be together or against each other? Will Robbie have to worry about Johnny since his Spirit of Vengeance is Eli Morrow and was a Satanic Serial Killer; so the Riders might not take a liking to his influence on Robbie and need to get rid of Eli.
- From the August 2019 solicts
JASON AARON (W) • STEFANO CASELLI (A/C)
MARVELS 25TH VARIANT COVER BY ALEX ROSS
Bring on the Bad Guys Variant Cover by MIKE MCKONE
AVENGERS MOUNTAIN: POSSESSED as CHALLENGE OF THE GHOST RIDERS continues!
It’s Ghost Rider vs. Ghost Rider in a wild race through hell, while the Avengers have to fight for their lives against their own Celestial headquarters, which is now possessed by a rather shocking, rather murderous hell-damned soul!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
From that solicit we now know the Riders will be taking each other on, so how will this Civil War play out? Are the Riders okay with Johnny being the King of Hell? Is he using his power for good or evil? What will Danny Ketch be thinking of all this madness? Is it Eli Marrow who has possessed Avengers Mountain? Has Robbie been changed? Does Cosmic Frank even care?
- From the September 2019 solicts
ABSOLUTE CARNAGE: SYMBIOTE OF VENGEANCE #1
ED BRISSON (W) • JUAN FRIGERI (A) • Cover by PHILIP TAN
CODEX VARIANT COVER BY TBA
VARIANT COVER BY TBA (VIRGIN VERSION ALSO AVAILABLE)
Carnage is hunting down previous symbiote hosts for codices that will unlock a direct link to the symbiote god Knull! And he’s not asking nicely…he’s taking them by force! Which means former Ghost Rider Alejandra Jones is next on his hit list!
With Johnny Blaze preoccupied as Hell’s king, it’s up to Danny Ketch to ride again and keep Alejandra out of Carnage’s clutches!!!
40 PGS./One-Shot/Rated T+ …$4.99
JASON AARON (W) • STEFANO CASELLI (A/C)
IMMORTAL WRAPAROUND VARIANT COVER BY TBA
THE CHALLENGE OF THE GHOST RIDERS!
If the Avengers thought one Ghost Rider was tough to deal with, wait’ll they see how many Spirits of Vengeance have just been unleashed by the King of Hell, Johnny Blaze! Including the craziest, most powerful Rider of them all…That’s right, it’s the Avengers vs. Cosmic Ghost Rider!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
THE PUNISHER #15
MATTHEW ROSENBERG (W) • Szymon Kudranski (A) • Cover by GREG SMALLWOOD
IMMORTAL WRAPAROUND VARIANT COVER BY TBA
THE BATTLE OF NEW YORK!
• You can’t fight City Hall…unless, of course, you’re Frank Castle.
• But he won’t fight alone!
• Unfortunately, Zemo’s got his new Thunderbolts, and they’re ready for war.
32 PGS./Parental Advisory …$3.99
Now this month’s set of comics are really exciting…Danny goes to save Alejandra, but did he go on his own or did someone send him? Will Alejandra be joining in on the Challenge as well? Cosmic Frank will be fighting the Avengers, so which side will Robbie be taking or is he the reason why they are fighting? Then a Ghost Rider appears in the Punisher book but we don’t know who it is…and trust me I asked the writer, Matthew Rosenberg.
So at the time of this publication that is how far the solicits can take us, so who knows what will happen outside of the conclusion of the Challenge of the Ghost Riders in issue 25 of the Avengers; I know the conclusion will happen here as I checked Amazon for the trade paperbacks and they reported the Avengers by Jason Aaron volume 4 tpb will contain issues 21-25. Now something else interesting that will be happening as we have heard in other news, the Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider will be appearing on the small screen again with a new show on HULU. Here is the official press release:
Per Marvel and HULU press release: (show will air sometime in 2020)
“Marvel’s Ghost Rider, also known as Robbie Reyes, is a quintessential antihero, consumed by hellfire and supernaturally bound to a demon. Reyes lives on the Texas/Mexico border and when he unleashes the Rider, Robbie brings vengeance for the innocents he encounters, but struggles to control the power he wields. Marvel’s Ghost Rider is executive produced by Ingrid Escajeda, who will serve as showrunner, Paul Zbyszewski and Marvel’s Jeph Loeb.”
Now it has also been reported that Gabriel Luna will reprise his role as Robbie, which is great and he was awesome in the role on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so why this entire hubbub about Ghost Rider? Well he will start becoming a hot commodity again and I’m also predicting that we will be getting a comic book series again…how do I think this? Well in October some participating comic shops will be handing out comics as treats as part of Halloween Comic Fest and Marvel will be re-releasing the Johnny Blaze Damnation issue as a new titled book:
Ghost Rider King of Hell #1
(W) Christopher Sebela (A) Phil Noto Johnny Blaze takes the fight to a different devil than he usually faces – Mephisto! But Mephisto will show Johnny his own brand of suffering – and give Johnny PLENTY of reasons for vengeance.
Those should be out just in time for the Masterwork and (hopefully) a release of a new Ghost Rider comic title, but how many Riders will it feature? Who should it feature? If I had my say I would say call it Ghost Riders and feature Johnny, Danny, Alejandra, and Robbie. What do you think? Chime in on our social media and let us know, as always GEEK OUT!