In the early 90s, I was absolutely obsessed with the brilliantly OTT action and storylines found in American wrestling and would eagerly watch as much as I could find of it on TV – which, here in the UK, was very little. WWF (later WWE) were most prominent, given that their shows were consistently shown on a regular basis, if only on satellite TV. We got WCW too, but it was shown at ridiculous times – way past my bedtime – and was constantly being shuffled around in the schedules, making it hard to keep up with.

I couldn’t get enough of the larger than life characters and their rivalries, even if – at times – the actual wrestling could sometimes feel secondary to the drama unfolding beyond the squared circle.

Given my affection for the wrestling scene of the 90s, Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia is a comic book that immediately makes all the right moves. It’s a comic with a delightfully daft high concept: a wrestler with an out of control ego declares himself ‘Galactic Champion of the Universe’ – a declaration that sparks an intergalactic feud with forces far beyond the American wrestling scene…

I assumed, based largely on the appealingly daft concept that forms the basis of the story, that Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia would be a fun, campy spoof of wrestling tropes. In many ways, I was wrong. It’s actually been put together with an awful lot more heart, care and attention to detail than I expected, which was a really pleasant surprise. Though there’s silliness there (the presence of an actual bear wrestling against human opponents, for example), the main characters and the behind the scenes action are well written and show a understanding of – and great affection for – the work that goes into creating the spectacle. The clashing of egos at managerial and talent level, for example – in particular the demands placed on the talent to create characters or situations that they may not be comfortable with – is played a lot more prominently and sensitively than I expected.

The art and overall visual design is fantastic too, with a brilliantly cartoony style that evokes the muscles and moustaches era of 80s and 90s wrasslin’, right down to the classic WWF-style logo being referenced on the cover’s title. Though this issue is grounded somewhat in reality (aforementioned bear aside!), the more sci-fi elements are there at the opening and closing of this first instalment of the story and I’m very keen to see more of this as the series develops.

It’s an excellent start then, with much more depth than I was expecting and an awful lot of – surprising, but not unwelcome – heart. I’m looking forward to checking out the rest of the series as soon as I can.

Many thanks to SBI for providing me with a copy of Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia for review purposes. More information on the series can be found at SBI’s website and issue 1 can be purchased here.

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