Publisher: Image Comics
Writer/Artist: Daniel Warren Johnson
Colours: Mike Spicer
Release Date: 15th June 2022
On sale next month from Image Comics and the singular talents of Daniel Warren Johnson, DO A POWERBOMB is, as you might expect, a wrestling comic. It tells the story of young Luna Steelrose, an aspiring wrestler struggling to escape the shadow of her legendary World Champion mother.
Anyone who follows DWJ on social media will be familiar with his love and passion for pro-wrestling, so this definitely feels like a natural progression for the Chicago-based cartoonist, who recently netted himself no less than three nominations for the upcoming 2022 Eisner Awards.
Johnson does a fantastic job here of capturing the unbridled energy and enthusiasm of Japanese wrestling, and every move and strike is delivered in his distinctive high-energy style. You can practically feel every impact, every bone-crunching blow and brutal landing, and it makes for a thoroughly immersive read. More than that though, Johnson also nails the key emotional beats of the story – and there are several – by delivering expressive, emotive characters and utilising some creative framing choices throughout.
Ably assisting Johnson here is colourist extraordinaire Mike Spicer, who brings the artist’s pencils and inks to life with a vibrant, splashy colour palette that also does a great job of capturing the pomp and extravagance of pro-wrestling. That this is a gorgeous book should come as no surprise given both men’s extensive pedigrees, but there are several pages in this first issue when even I was taken aback by how freaking awesome it all looked.
In terms of the story, I’m going to avoid delving too deeply for fear of spoiling things, but suffice to say that Luna makes for a thoroughly compelling protagonist with some believable motivations and a hell of a lot of emotional and physical hurdles to overcome over the course of this seven-part series.
At first, it seems like we’re going down the full kayfabe route, and there’s definitely a lot of that along the way, but there’s also a decent amount of behind-the-scenes moments that acknowledge the worked nature of pro-wrestling. So far so interesting, and as I alluded to above, Johnson’s clear love of wrestling shines through on every single page. But it’s the final three pages where the wheel gets yanked in a wholly unexpected direction, adding a shocking twist to the proceedings and making it an absolute certainty (if it wasn’t already) that I’ll be picking up the second issue the moment it goes on sale.
I love wrestling, and I love wrestling comics that clearly share that love, embracing the spectacle and the sacrifice without feeling the need to poke fun or roll eyes at its more eccentric qualities. More than just a series of flashy spots though, this series also shows some much-needed psychology, adding a generous dose of that vital personal drama to the mix. Simply put, if you’re a wrestling fan, or just love kick-ass artwork, this is an absolutely essential purchase.
[PREVIEW ARTWORK – CLICK TO ENLARGE]