When I was in junior high, all my friends were into wrestling. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, The Rock, and Goldberg were all familiar names to me, but I never watched the matches. I was informed at an early age by my parents that wrestling was fake and I should stay away from it, and so that nugget of information was firmly planted in my brain as I watched my naïve friends prance around at recess and perform backyard wrestling moves on each other like monkeys drunk on banana daiquiris. I tried telling them that I had it on good authority that it was fake, but they weren’t having it. Later on in life, I most certainly saw the appeal; it is showmanship at its finest, and with the intricate storylines, colorful characters, and over-the-top costumes, I now realize why it’s such a monumental spectacle that has entertained fans for decades.
When I got into comic books, I noticed a lot of comics creators and readers were also enthralled with the sport, and crossovers definitely flourished as the result. Wuvable Oaf by Ed Luce, Andre the Giant by Box Brown, heck even BOOM! Studios recently announced a partnership with WWE for a comic series featuring the pro wrestlers. These modern day gladiators are superheroes in the flesh, and the ‘good conquering evil’ storyline is routine every time they step into the ring. One particular comic I’ve recently had the pleasure of reading is probably the best wrestling comic of the past decade, and its third volume of the ongoing saga was just released.
Super Pro K.O. Volume 3: Gold for Glory by Jarrett Williams is finally here, and well worth the wait. The series originally debuted back in 2010, with the second volume coming out a year later, but since then the series took a long hiatus and fell into essentially comic book purgatory. The first two volumes were a couple hundred pages a piece, and this third volume is the thickest yet at a whopping 288. Like the other beloved Oni Press series Scott Pilgrim, the book is pocket sized, black and white, and packs one hell of a punch.
While the book follows the prestigious Super Pro K.O. organization and its many talented wrestlers, the two main storylines follow the young newbie Joe Somiano as he fights for his chance in the spotlight, and the reigning S.P.K.O. Champion King Crown Jr. The juxtaposition of the two makes for great storytelling, giving two completely different perspectives of the wrestling industry. The cliffhanger of volume two consisted of King Crown Jr. prepared to do battle with the maniac Bad Bad Butch O’Rowdy for the S.P.K.O. Champion belt, and Somiano getting ready his first real match with baseball-turned-wrestler heart-throb Romeo Colossus. In this third volume, it’s nothing but non-stop action as both wrestlers give it their all while entertaining the fans and giving them something to remember for the rest of their lives. Like with any good soap opera, there are twists and surprises throughout, and some wrestlers who everyone thought were out of the game for good make surprise appearances, destroying the status quo and flipping the organization on its head. Oh, and the humor throughout is fantastic!
Williams’ art is very reminiscent of Bryan Lee O’Malley, but he keeps it his own style and flavor with muscles aplenty. It’s easy to compare the two when the format of their comics is virtually the same. However, Williams excels at giving every wrestler their own unique identity, style, and finishing moves. I was surprised certain characters weren’t already established in the WWE or TNA, they felt that real. Every volume reads like an incredible wrestling match, and you don’t know who’s going to win or lose. After seeing the amazing attention to detail on every page, it’s easy to understand why it took so long for the third volume to see the light of day. But like I said before, it was well worth the wait.
If you like wrestling, if you like great storytelling, then the Super Pro K.O. series is definitely for you. Like the characters within, it’s Totally Awesome. Williams’ passion for wrestling translates beautifully to the comics medium, and it’s a love letter like no other to the sport. It’s on its way to becoming Oni’s next Scott Pilgrim, and it wouldn’t surprise me if one day it becomes an animated series on [adult swim], or even a video game. I’m not sure if the next volume will be coming out next year, or another five years, but all I know is that it can’t get here soon enough. In the meantime, do yourself a favor and catch up on all three volumes on Oni’s website, or Amazon.