Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Dennis Hopeless, Kevin Panetta
Artwork: Serg Acuña, Dominike “Domo” Stanton
Colours: Doug Garbark
Lettering: Jim Campbell
Release Date: 20th June 2018
This month’s issue of BOOM! Studios’ ongoing WWE series kicks off a new arc focusing on one of the more intriguing double-acts in wrestling today. Namely, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens.
This first chapter picks up on their friendship all the way back in the indies, and while the bulk of the narrative is based around the build-up to the heated match between Kevin and Shane McMahon at last year’s Hell in a Cell Pay Per View, we also get the occasional cutaway and flashback to some of their earlier skirmishes in both NXT and the WWE.
Serg Acuña does a typically solid job with the visual side of the book, making all the key characters – Zayn and Owens in particularly – instantly identifiable. Yes, there are some occasionally awkward facial expressions along the way, but for the most part the book feels like an authentic recreation of the real-life WWE. However, in an interesting wrinkle that may be down to some sort of licensing issue, Acuña either isn’t allowed or choses not to draw the face of a single McMahon. Which, when the issue is based around a storyline and PPV payoff where the McMahons are heavily involved, seems more than a little odd.
That said, in spite of Shane being entirely viewed from behind and Vinny Mac only appearing as a disembodied voice from off-panel, the creative team still do a passable job of selling the storyline. The backstage soul-searching by Zayn as KO and Shane-o-Mac do battle inside (and on top of) the Cell is particularly enjoyable, and adds an interesting wrinkle to the on-screen heel turn by showing it as an off-the-cuff decision rather than a premeditated scheme.
As with the vast majority of BOOM’s WWE output, any sense of drama or unpredictability is well and truly derailed by virtue of the majority of readers already knowing exactly what happened in the ring. However, the idea of digging a little deeper into the complex relationship between Kevin and Sami will hopefully give this new arc a lot more scope for fresh content than some of the previous series arcs have. And while I’m not expecting to see the pair battling in ROH or anything, I’d love to see their rise on the indies explored in a little more depth than it is here.
At the end of the day, there’s nothing particularly ground-breaking here, but as always, the charm in BOOM! Studios’ WWE series comes from seeing the kayfabed ‘behind the scenes’ moments which led up to the on-screen storyline twists and turns. If you’re a fan of KO, Sami or the WWE in general then this is, as always, well worth a look, but those expecting to find any fresh insight to one of the more enjoyable heel turns in recent months may end up disappointed.