Words: Joanne Starer

Art and Colors: Elena Gogou

Letters: Rob Steen

Publisher: Ahoy

Wrestling is in the middle of a quiet cultural renaissance. Sure, we’re not exactly seeing a return to the high-water marks of the 1980s or the Attitude Era of the late 1990s, but wrestling’s getting big again. One of the best ways to see how this particular form of entertainment is sparking the imagination is by looking at your local comic shop. Titles like Do a Powerbomb and Wrassle Castle have brought wrestling into the four-color world, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the squared circle’s presence in comics. Ahoy Comics’ THE GIMMICK (Joanee Starer, Elena Gogou) is another great example of how well comics and wrestling can go together.

The Gimmick is a unique book that mixes super-powers, pro wrestling, and crime drama. The book is the story of Shane Bryant, a wrestler who commits an accidental super-powered murder live on television. Starer’s writing does a good job of immediately establishing the world in which Bryant works, a sort of faux-WWE that mixes elements of the mid-90s and modern era. Likewise, she also does an excellent job of creating a wider world that fills lived-in; this story doesn’t so much feel like a first issue as it does being dropped into an established universe. The dialog is solid if sometimes just a little bit wordy, with enough wrestling references to show Starer’s bonafides but not enough to scare off casual fans.

Elena Gogou’s art is also a standout here. Though the color is a little muddy from time to time, the figures all manage to comfortably straddle the line between wrestling cartoony-ness and crime drama realism. It’s easy to pick out our leading characters even by silhouette and Gogou definitely seems to have had fun with some of the wrestling costume designs. Much like the writing, the art seems to do a good job of mixing up some imagery that should be very familiar to wrestling fans with broad designs that are appealing to even those who usually dismiss this sort of spectacle.

All told, The Gimmick’s first issue is a solid read that should leave most readers wanting more. There are definitely a number of plot threads that need to pay off going forward for this book to truly shine, but all the groundwork seems to be ably laid here. Whether you like wrestling or not, this issue is worth your time.

A. S. Williamson
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