WWE Summer Slam 2017 Special
Written by Box Brown, Ryan Ferrier, Ross Thibodeaux, Derek Fridolfs, and Aaron Gillespie
Art by Daniel Bayliss, Clay McCormack, Rob Guillory, Derek Fridolfs, Selina Espiritu
Colors by Dee Cunniffe, Taylor Wells, Fred Stresing, Jeremy Lawson
Letters by Jim Campbell
Review by John Dubrawa
For some, the month of August means that summer is winding down, school is back in session, and there isn’t much else to look forward to until pumpkin spice everything comes back into our collective lives. But for wrestling fans, August means one thing and one thing only: SUMMERSLAM BAY-BAY. While this annual WWE event is set for this Sunday, Boom! Studios is bringing the Hottest Event of the Summer(TM) to readers early with the WWE Summer Slam 2017 Special. This oversized one-shot is like a stacked PPV lineup, containing five stories from different creative teams, each focused on a historic WWE/WWF SummerSlam match. It’s a bit of a hard sell at $7.99 but for longtime fans of the product, it’s worth taking out a loan from the Million Dollar Man to afford to pick it up.
Although the regular WWE series comic deals with current storylines from the product, one of the best things about the WWE Summer Slam Special is that it’s multi-generational. Stories range from the classic encounter between “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes and “Macho King” Randy Savage at the 1990 Summerslam to something as recent as Finn Balor squaring off against Seth (freaking) Rollins for the Universal Title last year. So even those that don’t follow the WWE today or those that weren’t old enough to remember some of the WWF’s golden age heroes will find this special to be totally accessible, thanks in part to a cavalcade of fantastic writers that make even some of the most bizarre wrestling caricatures relatable.
For instance, in “I Wined and Dined With Queens,” featuring the aforementioned Rhodes/Savage encounter, writer Box Brown uses the two superstars’ opposing personalities as a means to write a story that’s really about the upper class versus the working class, through the lens of three friends attending the event. Deep stuff, right? It’s a great story right off the bat, made even more astounding thanks to Daniel Bayliss’s fantastic artwork. Bayliss captures the likeness of these characters astutely while giving them an exaggerated look that fits their oversized personalities.
Other stories in this collection take a different approach, such as the Mankind/Undertaker-led story “In the Mandible of Madness” where writer Ryan Ferrier uses a character’s broken psyche to set up an interesting twist ending. Clay McCormack’s illustrations and Dee Cunniffe’s colors create an almost surrealist bent to the whole ordeal as well. Meanwhile, “Give the Demon His Due” from writer Aaron Gillespie is a horror-inspired Alien-esque nightmare about Seth Rollins being haunted by “The Demon” Finn Balor. For a lighter affair, Derek Fridolf’s aptly named “The Natural Disasters vs The Bushwhackers” has a very comic-strip art style and approach that reminded me of something along the lines of Popeye. There’s a real mishmash of all different art styles and genre writing in this special but here’s the thing: as it’s used to approach the wacky world of professional wrestling, every bit of it totally works.
For those following the current WWE monthly comic, there’s another story, “The New Day’s Optimistic Odyssey (Part 5)” from writer Ross Thibodeaux and artist Rob Guillory. So unfortunately, anyone that has been following along in the WWE title will need to pick up this $7.99 special just for a few pages of New Day’s continued antics. And if there’s one fault I can find in this special as a whole it’s that hefty price tag. This is only a 40-page book, after all, and with each story being less than ten pages each, it is a difficult sell. It’s even crazier to think that you can spend $2 more and buy a subscription to the WWE Network and actually WATCH all these Summerslam events from the past. Yet as a diehard wrestling fan I know the temptation of seeing something like this on the shelf, and just know that your hard-earned money isn’t going to waste, daddy.
BUY, with a caveat. If you’re a reader that has been enjoying the monthly WWE book and has a pretty extensive knowledge of WWE/WWF history, this anthology of some of Summerslam’s best moments is entirely for you. Strictly new viewers or lapsed, old school wrestling fans won’t be completely left in the dust either way, but at a jacked-up $7.99 price point it’s a bit of a tougher sell.