The Gimmick #2 continues a story full of heart, great comedy, and compelling characters
Editor’s note: get to know this fantastic series from the start! Check out Mike’s review of The Gimmick #1 here!
I have to admit up front, I had to read The Gimmick # 2, from Ahoy Comics, twice before reviewing it. After my initial read, I thought the story was very slight and unmemorable. Only after my second go through, it dawned on me the swerve writer Joanne Starer and artist Elena Gogou, along with colorist Andy Troy and letterer Rob Steen, are playing on the readers.
Like any wrestling fan knows, a storyline will never satisfy if you’re not invested in the characters you’re following and rooting for. Luckily Starer, Gogou, and company have created a stable of interesting and endearing characters we enjoy spending time with, rooting for and even disliking, whether in the past, present or future.
When we last saw our reluctant face, Shane Bryant, he was on the run from the FBI, the mother of his child, his own mother, and the daughter of the man he killed using the superpowers he’d hidden from the world. Now exposed, he’s hiding out with his mentor, the General, in Tijuana, wrestling as a masked luchador.
Editor’s note: a face, in wrestling terms, is the good guy, fan favorite, or heroic character.
Even if he’s now wearing a mask, Shane can’t hide from his past, nor can those looking to track him down. That’s what dawned on me after my second pass-through, the brilliant way Starer has set up her storylines and swerved us into caring about the fate of these people in such a short time. There’s a feeling of inevitability that all of these characters will soon crash into one another, with the results almost certain to be messy.
Of course, that’s the future. In this issue, we get a glimpse of the past, specifically the meet-cute between Shane and Alicia, the mother of his son Finn, a literal chip off the old super-powered block. We also dig deeper into the psyche and motivations of our would-be revenge seeker, the daughter of the racist wrestler Shane inadvertently murdered in issue #1.
A Deep Bench of Characters
I’ve mentioned superpowers a few times in this review, but it’s a testament to the creative team that while there are minimal superhuman feats displayed in this issue, I was fully engaged in the character work and relationship building established initially in the first issue and further deepened here. Any comic is only as strong as its supporting characters, and The Gimmick, in its short run, has introduced an eclectic roster I look forward to sharing this journey with.
Elena Gogou and the rest of the art team have taken a big step forward in this issue, as they handle flashbacks and multiple locations while never confusing us concerning when and where the story is taking place. As mentioned, there isn’t a lot of action in this issue, but the art is always inventive, providing a lived-in yet slightly skewed worldview for our characters to inhabit. I was definitely more impressed with the quality of the artwork this go around. It compliments and adds to the ongoing world-building.
Engaging Characters and Mysteries
Wrestling storylines evolve and change the longer they go on. Heroes become villains, fan favorites become hated, hidden agendas are revealed, and unlikely alliances are formed. Two issues in, The Gimmick is keeping me on my toes by leaning into the unexpected, giving me what I need, not necessarily what I want. Sure, the mystery of Shane’s special talents is still to be revealed, but so is the mystery involving Shane’s relationship with his mother. And what about the FBI, absent from this issue but still out there pursuing our good-hearted luchador? This is why I’ll keep coming back to The Gimmick. Not for the feats of strength or random acts of violence, but because I like these characters. I like hanging out with them in their weird world. I want to see how their storylines play out, even if I have to read each issue multiple times.