A new pro wrestling comic is hitting the scene this week with Do a Powerbomb from acclaimed comics creator Daniel Warren Johnson. You might know him from his epic Wonder Woman: Dead Earth or the equally epic Beta Ray Bill, but now he’s back with a creator-owned series that takes pro wrestling to a whole other level. Because if you’re not taking pro wrestling to a whole other level–and that includes the people in the real-life ring–why even bother?
Something you’ll immediately notice is Johnson’s incredible linework. There really isn’t another artist like him. It’s messy, yet has finesse and brings a whole lot of energy to the book. That includes the wild use of sound effects right down to the less auditory sound effects like “Jump!” This issue is proof enough Johnson is exploring and evolving as an artist. From the chaotic streamers that surround the main character to a bit of smoke or a touch of sweat particles to create a bit of movement, the book is kinetic through and through.
The story ain’t bad either. Through a female wrestler named Yua Steel Rose, we see an audience that adores her. She loves them just as much, even calling them family. She’s why people come to the ring even if it may be “fake” fighting. Johnson makes you believe Yua loves what she does with her whole being. She’s admirable and heroic in her love of the sport. One might argue the characters are a little lacking in a way since they live seemingly for the game.
Speaking of sports, this book feels like a great sports narrative. In the same vein of great manga sports stories, Johnson seems to be drawing on the passion and incredible skill that sports require. Sports are typically sacrificial too, which we see in a key moment in the narrative. The athletes do what they do because they love it, but also because we demand it. That relationship is obvious in this story.
Mike Spicer colors the issue (he seems to color everything Johnson is involved with) and it’s spot on with mood and atmosphere, suiting the cartoony nature of Johnson’s work. Spicer is also great at capturing the glow of light which is evident throughout the issue. You can sort of see an additional manga influence when it comes to the use of color and the heavy use of black in the borders. A surprising amount of this book is black and white, especially for an American comic.
This isn’t just a sports story, though. It’s got a supernatural twist, which I won’t spoil since it comes at the very end of the issue. I will say this: the twist trumps the usual sports narrative which can feel stale or at the very least lack big stakes. The stakes are higher than ever by the end of this issue and we don’t even know what the big final match is going to be. The narrative doesn’t have to lean on some big tournament, at least not yet, to draw the reader into the story.
Do a Powerbomb #1 is a delight thanks to the riveting art and exceptional sports narrative. Do a Powerbomb has a ton of heart and the firepower action audiences crave.
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