Comics: Boom! Studios WWE: THEN. NOW. FOREVER #1 One-Shot (2016) – Reviewed

Boom! Studios has partnered with WWE Studios to create a comic book that delivers an extra added experience for pro wrestling fans, offering up stories that cover all of the WWE eras and superstars. It lends an opportunity to both further well known storylines as well provide outlandish tales and scenarios that wouldn’t be feasible on television. The comic series has been gradually introduced, with one-page comics offered at SDCC 2016 and now this special 48 page one-shot edition. This special issue contains four individual stories written and drawn by different individuals, along with all of the SDCC one-page comics. It has three separate interlocking covers with art by Dan Mora available, as well as several limited variant covers.

The first story is “The Breaking of the Shield” and was written by Dennis Hopeless, illustrated by Dan Mora, colored by Doug Garbank, and lettered by Jim Campbell, which will be continued in issue #1 in January 2017. This features the actual storyline that involved Seth Rollins turning heel and the Shield disbanding. This story is pretty realistic but just embellishes it somewhat in order to have it contain the typical comic book action sequences and some added humor. Mora’s drawings are simple yet effective. They are simple in that there aren’t dark shadows or heavy line work, allowing the color created by Garbank to stand out. Mora’s drawings are perfect for this story; they are realistic representations of each wrestler which is needed for something that is a little serious. Dean Ambrose is the comic relief and they really let him be the ‘lunatic fringe,” outshining the other characters.
The second story is “The New Day’s Optimistic Odyssey- Part 1” and was written by Ross Thibodeaux, illustrated by Rob Guillory, colored by Taylor Wells, and lettered by Jim Campbell. This is a totally outlandish and cartoonish yarn involving The New Day running a summer camp and just pushes their typical antics even more. It is a highly comical and involves Booty O’s cereal, child versions of WWE wrestlers, unicorns, time travel, dinosaurs, and of course Ric Flair (insert “WOO” here). The only thing bad about this fun journey is that it will be continued in issue #1 in January 2017. Other than that, this is simply perfection. The writing is humorous and Guillory’s art nicely matches the scenario, with the characters looking slightly more cartoonish and having overly expressive facial gestures and movements.
The third story is “Then. Now. Forever.” It was written and illustrated by Rob Schamberger and was lettered by Jim Campbell. It is about how Sasha Banks fandom and passion for wrestling as a child led to her becoming a WWE performer. It’s a touching tale that typifies many wrestlers back stories, with their fandom leading to something more than just watching. The art is very good and features a watercolor style and painterly approach that is atypical of most comics.
The fourth story is “Tug Team” and was illustrated by Derek Fridolfs, colored by Fred Stresing, and lettered by Jim Campbell. It is a Popeye style comic that involves the 1980’s and early 1990’s wrestler called Tugboat. It’s two pages long and looks and feels like a modern twist on Popeye. Hopefully, there will be more of this series.
Finally, there are the SDCC one-page comics that were illustrated by Daniel Bayliss, colored by Doug Garbark, and lettered by Jim Campbell. They all showcases major moments in each wrestlers career and include Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, John Cena, The New Day, Sasha Banks, The Undertaker, and Dusty Rhodes.
Overall, this was an enjoyable issue and there is cast amount to look forward to regarding this comic. If they can continue to offer up several different stories and artistic styles with each issue, fans will definitely be interested in continuing to read this. I highly recommend that any WWE fan give this comic at least one chance.