Ahoy Comics debuts new no holds barred dark comedy.
Wrestling and super heroics are rooted in myth and mystery, sharing a penchant for masks, colorful costumes, and high-flying acrobatics. Heroes and villains engage in an ongoing conflict for the entertainment of fans, young and old. In The Gimmick #1, from Ahoy Comics, the worlds of professional wrestling and super heroics intersect in unexpected and, yes, mysterious ways.
Shane Bryant is an easygoing good guy or “face” in wrestling parlance. Along with his partner Puddin’, Shane strides to the ring, both participating in a tag team match in front of thousands live at Petco Park and with many more millions watching at home. Writer Joanne Starer establishes Shane’s character through naturalistic dialogue, and we can tell right away that he’s a well-liked and respected friend and performer.
Flying elbows and…super flight?
The art by artist Elena Gogou and lettering by Rob Steen match the dialogue by conveying a more bare-bones and stripped-down realistic style that only serves to contrast with the more fantastical elements that follow. You see, Shane has superpowers: super strength and flight, to be specific. We discover this when Shane puts his fist through the skull of his opponent, then flies away, horrified at losing control.
How did Shane acquire these powers, and how long has he had them? Is he human? These questions remain unanswered for now. What we get for the remainder of issue 1 is the aftermath of Shane’s actions, seen through the effects it has on his friends, family, and the family of the man he killed. Joanne Starer really shines here, doling out bits and pieces of character history and planting seeds for conflicts that will surely be explored as the series progresses. Although we don’t get to spend much time with them, we’re teased with appearances from Shane’s overprotective mother and the estranged daughter of his victim, questioned by two very different government agents. These characters are all interesting, intriguing, and quirky, even in small samples, and leave us with more questions to explore in future issues.
For the love of luchadores and lunacy.
It’s obvious that Starer is a wrestling fan, as she peppers this opening issue with conversations that reveal the characters’ love for the industry and knowingly winks at the inherent lunacy involved in professional wrestling. While the overarching mystery of Shane’s powers is the obvious hook for the series, the interpersonal relationships glimpsed in this first issue grabbed me and would bring me back for more.
The art, on the other hand, took more getting used to, at least for me. As I said, its more understated approach works to establish a real-life setting, but the characters aren’t always rendered the same from panel to panel, and some scenes seem sparse on detail and backgrounds. I’d be interested to see how Gogou progresses, especially if the action becomes more fantastical. But this is a small gripe and not a deal breaker by any means.
As the first issue ends, the story is set in motion, and Shane is on the run. Establishing a new life in Tijuana as a masked luchador, even as his old life still haunts him, literally and figuratively. Exposed to the world, he’s sold out to the media by his opportunistic mother while being hunted by the government, the daughter of the man he killed, and the mother of his infant child – who seems particularly strong for his age.
The Gimmick is no gimmick.
The Gimmick # 1 is a worthy appetizer for a series that can explore some interesting ideas in the wrestling business setting, not usually utilized in comic storytelling. I’m intrigued enough by the various mysteries surrounding Shane’s superpowers to continue reading, but I think that the relationships between the characters and how the creative team handles them will be what brings other readers and me back for more.
There are two short prose selections after our main story. One set in the future by Kevin Credo and illustrated by Rick Geary that can frankly be skipped, and another by Kirk Vanderbeek and illustrated by Ameilee Sullivan, that I found interesting.
As for the main attraction, I highly recommend The Gimmick. Whether you are a fan of superheroes, wrestling, or just a fan of original comics with skewed sensibilities – you’ll find all of this and more in this debut issue.
Editor’s note: speaking of debut issues, check out Morgan Simmons’ review of Clear #1 here.