Bells Will Ring For WWE Then. Now. Forever.

Bells Will Ring For WWE Then. Now. Forever.

WWE Then. Now. Forever. Volume 3 Andy Belanger,  Ryan Ferrier, Derek Freidlofs, Aaron Gillespie, Bill Hanstock, Tini Howard, Michael Kingston, Julian May, Kevin Panetta, Lan Pitts, Brent Schoonover, Andrew Stott (Writing); Andy Belanger, Dozerdraws, Jake Elphick, Derek Friedlofs, Kendall Goode, Hyeonjin Kim, Rodrigo Lorenzo, Carlos Magno, Michel Mulipola, Brent Schoonover, Dominike “Domino” Stanton (Art); Jim

WWE Then. Now. Forever. Volume 3

Andy Belanger,  Ryan Ferrier, Derek Freidlofs, Aaron Gillespie, Bill Hanstock, Tini Howard, Michael Kingston, Julian May, Kevin Panetta, Lan Pitts, Brent Schoonover, Andrew Stott (Writing); Andy Belanger, Dozerdraws, Jake Elphick, Derek Friedlofs, Kendall Goode, Hyeonjin Kim, Rodrigo Lorenzo, Carlos Magno, Michel Mulipola, Brent Schoonover, Dominike “Domino” Stanton (Art); Jim Campbell, Serge LaPointe (Letters); Matias Laborde, Jeremy Lawson,  Serge Lapointe, Doug Garbark, Fred C. Stresing, Kendall Goode, (Colors); Rahzzah, Kendall Goode, Marco D’Alfonso (covers)
BOOM! Studios
March 13th, 2019

BOOM! Studios’ WWE comic book keeps spitting out winners. Four years into its run, it has continued to deliver excellent, creative takes on the characters who populate its wrestling universe.

Cover for WWE Then. Now. Forever. TPG #3 Andy Belanger, Ryan Ferrier, Derek Freidlofs, Aaron Gillespie, Bill Hanstock, Tini Howard, Michael Kingston, Julian May, Kevin Panetta, Lan Pitts, Brent Schoonover, Andrew Stott (Writing); Andy Belanger, Dozerdraws, Jake Elphick, Derek Friedlofs, Kendall Goode, Hyeonjin Kim, Rodrigo Lorenzo, Carlos Magno, Michel Mulipola, Brent Schoonover, Dominike “Domino” Stanton (Art); Jim Campbell, Serge LaPointe (Letters); Matias Laborde, Jeremy Lawson, Serge Lapointe, Doug Garbark, Fred C. Stresing, Kendall Goode, (Colors); Rahzzah, Kendall Goode, Marco D’Alfonso (covers) C Boom!Studios March 2019

I’ve already reviewed two of the stories in WWE Then. Now. Forever in my last review for the series—my feelings on “A Show of Hart,” “The King of Bling,” “King for a Day,” and “The Brain vs The Bulldog” are unchanged, and they’re both still terrific stories (and are one terrible story). As for the others, here are some highlights!

“Though She Be Little, She’s Fierce” (Campbell/Howard/Kim) is a wonderful look at Asuka’s rise through the rankings of NXT and how she becomes a big fish in the big pond of Raw. Though Kim’s art sometimes misses the bullseye in the likeness department, there’s some great moments visually here, and Howard’s writing is perfect.

Panel Art for WWE Then. Now. Forever. TPG #3 Andy Belanger, Ryan Ferrier, Derek Freidlofs, Aaron Gillespie, Bill Hanstock, Tini Howard, Michael Kingston, Julian May, Kevin Panetta, Lan Pitts, Brent Schoonover, Andrew Stott (Writing); Andy Belanger, Dozerdraws, Jake Elphick, Derek Friedlofs, Kendall Goode, Hyeonjin Kim, Rodrigo Lorenzo, Carlos Magno, Michel Mulipola, Brent Schoonover, Dominike “Domino” Stanton (Art); Jim Campbell, Serge LaPointe (Letters); Matias Laborde, Jeremy Lawson, Serge Lapointe, Doug Garbark, Fred C. Stresing, Kendall Goode, (Colors); Rahzzah, Kendall Goode, Marco D’Alfonso (covers) C Boom!Studios March 2019

It’s the art that makes “Glorious” (Garbark/Lorenzo/May) stand out, as it’s a visual interpretation of Bobby Rood’s theme song. And visually it is indeed pretty, as Rood descends from the heavens and takes names in the name of his own gloriousness. I loved the little lucha masks on the angels surrounding him!

“Once Upon a Mountain” (Belanger/Lapointe/Stott) is an extremely unique interpretation of Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns’ fight as a battle between a giant and a knight. Belanger’s thick, rough linework here is incredibly well-done, and the layout of the panels beautiful, in the manner of a stained glass window.

“Tales of the Swiss Cyborg” (Dozerdraws/Lawson/May) has a “Casey at the Bat” feeling, and Dozerdraws adorably cartoony art makes the little story about Cesaro’s technique for reaching the utmost heights in his wrestling career.

The story about how Andrade Almas and Zelina Vega got together as manager and wrestler is told through Bill Hanstock and Kendall Goode’s “Eyes on the Prize,” and the fairytale format is very, very charming. Zelina is, naturally, the power behind the throne here.

A double-page story called “One True BFF,” about the sadly long-over partnership between Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax is told through split POVs and is incredibly well-done and laid out (and gayyyy y’all so gay). A million props to Hanstock and Goode again; the art is perfectly spot-on for both women and the storytelling is brilliant.

“Iron Sharpens Iron” (Garbark/Magno/Pitts), meanwhile, suffers from some pretty terrible art that fails in general to get close to Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage (or even Miss Elizabeth) looks-wise, but the action panels are a lot of fun. An encapsulation of the athlete’s feud, it has some good moments writing-wise, but doesn’t rise to the colorful artistry of the actual  matches they shared.

“The Authority Wears Prada,” meanwhile, it WONDERFULLY queer as Stephanie McMahon impresses an assistant with the need to dress to draw eyes at a WrestleMania. This story and Tini Howard’s writing made me so hungry for more, but makes a good point in its brief run and the art is gorgeous. The coloring by Doug Garbark is particularly exquisite here, with all of those purples, greens, and blues.

Steve Austin thinks about his life as he nearly drowns and then triumphantly destroys the Rock’s plans to bury him for good in the amazingly perfectly written “Funeral for a Rattlesnake by Gillespie.” It’s hard to get Austin’s cadence down, but this story gets it perfectly together and keeps it credibly within his point of view. The art is a little undefined in places by Mulipoa, but they can really draw a monster truck.

Meanwhile, “3 Faces of Foley” (Lawson/Panetta/Stanton) does something entirely different. Some stories can only be told in comic form. Like the idea of all of Mick Foley’s personalities/gimmicks having dinner together, which results in a brawl that can only be cleared up by Mick Foley! The absurdity of the situation is beautifully enhanced by the writing and art here, which is goofy enough to keep the audience entertained.

“Trish vs Lita” has a story that’s presaged within the history of the wrestlers’ feud, but manages to tell itself with minimum fuss. The art is gorgeous and Kim’s best yet, and great coloring by Lawson. It does a great job portraying the rivalry between these two.

Taking a creative approach to the DX invasion of the Atlanta, the NWO are pitted against Degeneration X when DX invades WCW’s gym as part of their assault on the once Georgia-based company. This—next to the Nia and Trish story, and not including the Heenan story—is my absolute favorite in the issue. DX struggling to rebel and ending up being total goofs instead of cool studs is such a great twist, a good choice by Ferrier – and Hall and Nash are used in the correct capacity. The art is wonderfully cartoony and some of Goode’s best. There was some OTT (perhaps corporate directed?) WCW bashing but eh. It’s to be expected.

With a book loaded heavily with highlights of the run’s best moments, WWE Then. Now. Forever Volume 3 takes us from the ‘80’s to the ‘10s in a variety of unique and creative ways. For every mistake (and that Ted DiBiase/Razor Ramon story is STILL a huge mistake) there are triumphs. With a cool roster of artists and writers slipping, hopefully this is one match that will never reach its time limit.

Lisa Fernandes
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