“To Be the Man: Evil Ain’t Good” by Jared Davis (words) and Josh Taylor (art and lettering)
♦ Jack Graves, noted author and top Tripwire reviewer is a man who likes both wrestling and the supernatural. Or so we hear. Who better to review new wrestling plus evil-from-beyond-the-grave focused comic To Be the Man? No one, that’s who, no one. Jack’s got a book out you know…
There have been many wrestling comics – back in the day Chaos Comics had fun with The Undertaker, Chyna, Mankind, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and The Rock, then of the WWF (now the WWE, due to the WWF receiving a piledriver from the World Wildlife Fund). Both Valiant and Marvel have also contributed to the coffers of the WWE. Internationally, some wrestlers most notably Santo and the Blue Demon have crossed over into comics, often as a result of a thriving film career. In independent comics, there has been a host of one-offs, and even the odd British comic such as Johnny Cougar who appeared in Tiger.
I think it’s fair to say, however, that before this nobody has really crossed the world of professional wrestling with the world of horror and gonzo humour in quite such a unique way as Jared Davis and Josh Taylor.
If you’d like to see WWE/New Japan/Triple-A type Wrestling combined with Zombies and the power of the afterlife, filtered through the sensibility of the Skottie Young of I Hate Fairyland, then this is the comic for you. Frankly, if you don’t like all that stuff, and you’d still like to be entertained, it’s probably still the comic for you.
At the start of our comic Greg “The Gargoyle” Grimes is fighting Fabulous Frank Hazard for the Heavyweight Championship (of the Wooooorld!). In wrestling parlance, Greg is a heel, and Frank is a face. When things don’t go as well as Greg expects, real heat replaces cheap heat and Greg and Frank end up in an altercation. An altercation that brings down the wrath of hell upon their heads. Quite a lot of zombies as well. There are a bunch of nods to smart marks (people who know far, far, too much about the wrestling business), including the promoter being called “Vance,” a rerun of the Montréal screw job, and a host of other things that will make you smile, or bring a slight sense of bewilderment to your life. The writing is crisp, realistic, given that it’s set within an inherently unrealistic milieu, and very, very funny.
The art by Josh Taylor is extraordinary. Normally (although ‘normally’ seems the wrong word here) Josh is the series artist on Black Powder Red Earth (to see our interview with him go here, to see our feature on the series go here) but nothing about that series will prepare you for the insane gonzo barminess of this series. To say it’s kinetic is damning with faint praise. Normally comics that use a great deal of colour are just tiresome. In this comic, purple clashes with green, and acid yellow fights with sky blue, and yet somehow the whole thing works perfectly. Most of all the art carries terrific conviction, the sort of conviction that’s usually only awarded for murder of some kind. The storytelling, often relegated to a minor role in many of today’s comics, is exemplary. Just look at this page:
Best of all you get about 30 pages of content, in an age when most comics give you 20 to 24. Even better, 30 pages of content you might actually want to read in an age where most mainstream superhero comics give you approximately zero. Oh, you also get some of those text back pages. You know like Doomsday Clock. Only interesting.
Jared and Josh have put their hearts and souls into producing this comic. It’s awesome. Go buy it.
To Be The Man can be purchased from these fine people:
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