Regular readers of this very blog – or people who actually know me in real life – will be more than aware of my love for professional wrestling, which grew out of watching British stars duking it out on World of Sport (as well as going to see live events when I was barely even old enough to walk, at Picketts Lock in Edmonton, North London) before discovering the massively over the top characters and action of American wrestling in the late 80s and early 90s. The WWF – now WWE – and WCW shows were broadcast regularly on Sky and ITV respectively in the UK, often multiple times per week, making it easy to keep up with the characters, stories and of course the in-ring action on a regular basis.

Wrestling seems to be having a bit of a moment too, no doubt bouyed by a post-lockdown era in which people are keen to get out and see live events for themselves; there’s a thriving live scene here in Hampshire, with numerous promotions and academies in the area – and that’s without even mentioning the fact that WWE themselves are bringing a major Pay-Per-View event to the UK in September with Clash at the Castle; it’s the first time we’ve had an event of this nature since, unbelievably, Summerslam ’92.

As for me, well – I still can’t get enough of the action in the squared circle, even when it comes to comic books. Wrestling seems to be particularly popular subject matter in comics at the moment too, with series such as the phenomenal crime drama Ringside, comedic sci-fi Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia and Macbeth-inspired horror The Crimson Cage all using wrestling as their basis for telling remarkably varied stories.

Though published in 2020, I’ve only just discovered Galaxy Grappling Alliance, by the mononymous creator Damian of Art Ninetwo. Set in the 33rd century – a time when major intergalactic disputes are settled by high stakes wrestling matches – the story sees the heroic babyface Frank Scrapper taking on the monstrous alien heel Gorgo the Goon, in a battle to decide the fate of long-suffering slaves from the Poffo Sector.

If you’ve already noticed a nod to a late, great 80s wrestler in the above synopsis, then you’re just as big a fan as I am (and clearly Damian is!). The Poffo Sector bearing the real surname of Macho Man Randy Savage is far from the only reference to classic wrestling though, with pastiches of famous commentators and presenters, not to mention more nods within the names of the wrestling agreement that leads to matches being able to settle disputes (the Piper Accords) and even the names of planets (Scrapper’s homeworld bearing the real surname of a, ahem, hulking 80s superstar).

Though all of these nods and references are really fun to discover, it’d mean nothing if the comic itself wasn’t a blast to read. Thankfully, the clever easter eggs are just the icing on the cake (and it’s not necessary to pick up on them all to enjoy the comic either); Galaxy Grappling Alliance #1 is a really enjoyable comic, with brilliantly stylised, varied character designs, kinetic art and exposition delivered cleverly – for the most part – by the commentators. An opening text page sets the scene economically for the action, which is mostly confined to the fight between the two rivals.

There’s even a cliffhanger too, which I can’t wait to see picked up on in issue two. Galaxy Grappling Alliance is an incredibly entertaining read that’s an awful lot of fun for fans of classic wrestling, as well as fans of fast-paced, lovingly crafted indie comics. It’s very clear that this is a real passion project for Damian – and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

You can buy Galaxy Grappling Alliance #1 from this link.

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