Liam Hoofe reviews WWE Royal Rumble Special #1…
WWE’s 31st annual Royal Rumble event will take place in a little under three weeks and to celebrate the occasion, Boom! Comics have released their latest anthology special, Royal Rumble #1. The anthology issues for the big four events have, thus far, been fairly hit and miss. The SummerSlam special, released back in August, was a brilliant collection of stories, while, the Survivor Series special was an inconsistent edition that couldn’t live up to the event it was representing. It gives me great pleasure to tell you then, that Royal Rumble, is a return to form for the series, telling four enjoyable stories from the event’s rich history.
The first of these stories is ‘To Be Number One’ which tells the story of Ric Flair’s 1992 Royal Rumble triumph, and the backstage events after the match. The 92 Rumble has a fond place in many wrestling fans hearts and writer Lan Pitts and artist Rodrigo Lorenzo have done an excellent job of recapturing the feeling of that night. Pitt’s dialogue is excellent and feels authentic without leaning too heavily on wrestling cliches, while Lorenzo, whose work has impressed in the last few Boom! comics strikes again with excellent renditions of Flair, Heenan and The Undertaker. The coloring work from Doug Garbark also does a great job at recapturing that early 90’s wrestling aesthetic. Boom! Studios regular Serg Acuna is absent from this issue, but relative newcomer Lorenzo does a great job at filling in his boots.
The second story in this edition is ‘Mr Royal Rumble’ which sees Kofi Kingston preparing for his entry into the Rumble by revisiting some of his most iconic escapes from the last few years. An innovative Kofi escape has become a staple of the modern Royal Rumble and it was a nice touch having him get a short story in the comic. The artwork here, from Dominike Stanton, is solid, if not a little inconsistent, with Big E looking quite strange in one of the panels. When I first saw a New Day panel I was concerned that this was going to be another of their little adventure pieces but thankfully, this was just a nice little trip down memory lane.
The comic’s whackiest story is ‘Randy Savage: Not Show King’, which features Randy Savage trying to escape from an enraged Ultimate Warrior after costing him his WWE title. The story is a fun little distraction and it has an amusing ending. Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts also has a ridiculous and amusing cameo in this story and this is one of the times that Boom Comics’ decision to go a little silly with a wrestling angle pays off quite nicely.
The first thing you will notice when you get your copy of Royal Rumble #1 (which you definitely should) is that AJ Styles’ name is on the cover. That’s right, the current WWE champion has turned his hand to writing for the final story in this comic – ‘I am Phenomenal’ which tells the story of AJ’s debut in the 2016 Royal Rumble. Styles has shown he is among the best in the world when it comes to the graps and it’s a nice surprise to see that he also a talent for writing. AJ’s story, along with the first one, is the best in the comic and makes plenty of nice nods to AJ’s past career and what lies ahead for him in the WWE. Style’s writing fits naturally within the pages of the comic and I’d love to see the WWE champ tell more of his stories in future issues. The artwork is solid for the most part here, one shot of Kevin Owens aside, and the comic’s closing panel is beautiful to look at.
Overall, WWE Royal Rumble #1 is a huge improvement from the last anthology series and is a nice trip down memory lane, not that I needed any more excitement in my life for this year’s Royal Rumble. Good work all around.
What did you think of #Royal Rumble 1? Let us know in the comments below, and let Liam know on Twitter @liamhoofe