Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Brandon Easton
Artist: Denis Medri
Release Date: 18th November, 2015
The history of comic books based on the world of wrestling makes for particularly grim reading. It shows the two have worlds have yet to produce something genuinely noteworthy, in fact, some of the worst comics ever produced have been based on wrestling, such as the failed attempts to launch the Ultimate Warrior as a comic book character. Writers seemingly fail to distinguish between the gimmick and real life personas, thus producing a story which fails on both counts. With that in mind, I chose IDW’s graphic novel “Closer To Heaven” with very low expectations.
The plot is biographical and focuses on the titular Andre The Giant (André Roussimoff), from his modest background in rural France, to regional wrestling attraction, to international celebrity during the WWF’s National expansion in the ’80s as a result of Vince McMahon Jnr’ acquiring the promotion from his father.
Easton crams a whole lot into this book (too much to cover in depth in this review), but to his credit he doesn’t gloss over the superstar’s faults and flaws, such as his tendency to drink himself to his limits, bouts of casual racism, and reluctant attitude towards fatherhood. His writing is given further depth by Medri’s artwork, which beautifully captures the quiet moments of pathos, balancing them perfectly with the in-ring action.
As a kicker, the story has some real emotional weight to it, too. As Andre’s life passes by, close acquaintances come and go, and all the while he knows his time on this earth is limited due to his condition, acomegaly, a disease that made it unlikely he would live past the age of forty. The result is a tale that feels authentic to the world of wrestling and true to the story of Andre the Giant.
Wrestling fans will be familiar with many of these tales, so it would be silly to assume they are who this graphic novel is primarily aimed at. Rather this book has a much broader appeal. It’s a strong piece of storytelling in its own right, which is sure to hook the casual observer, too.
The writer of this piece was:
Gary Kane aka (GK)
GK tweets from @Kanoclassic