Just in time for the last big pay-per-view of WWE’s calendar, a plethora of creators tell stories of famous moments throughout the history of Survivor Series. Does it work? Let’s look.
Written by Dennis Hopeless, Box Brown, Derek Fridolfs, Kevin Panetta, Lan Pitts & Aaron Gillespie
Illustrated by Lucas Werneck, Rodrigo Lorenzo, Derek Fridolfs, Kendall Goode, Kelly Williams & Tim Lattie
Colored by Jeremy Lawson, Doug Garbank, Fred Stresing, Kendall Goode & Dee Cunniffe
Lettered by Jim Campbell
This oversized WWE special highlights everything we love about the Thanksgiving tradition that rules autumn in sports entertainment—Survivor Series! Features stories across all eras, from the epic showdown between Brock Lesnar and Goldberg twelve years in the making, to the infamous controversial classic that still enrages WWE fans to this day—the Montreal Screwjob.
This year’s Survivor Series is an odd duck. At time of writing (I say that because this event’s card has flipped more times than an centrist acrobat trying to put a vote in the House of Reps) it’s an event of Brand vs. Brand (even if, objectively, the only difference in the brands are that they mostly have separate rosters except when AJ Styles and Finn Balor want to play) dominates to put a whole host of matches we wouldn’t see during the year even if it put off storylines. But that’s not what this comic is about. To tie-into the event, BOOM Studios has released another anthology of stories recreating famous moments from Survivor Series of the past.
So like DX, we’re gonna break it down and take a look at each story:
“The Montreal Screwjob” by Hopeless, Werneck, Lawson & Campbell
Ah, the infamous Montreal Screwjob. That night were Bret Hart was leaving the WWF for WCW and refused to drop the World Championship to enemy Shawn Michaels. The night that gave birth to the “Mr. McMahon” character. It’s always been a toss-up on who’s side you thought was right: Bret or Vince, but this story actually takes place from Shawn’s perspective. Hopeless continues his trend of blending kayfabe and the behind the scenes by pulling in threads such as the aforementioned animosity between the two wrestlers, Shawn’s knee injury (and the “losing his smile” angle) and Shawn’s friendship with Triple H. The story does a nice job playing up some frustrations that Shawn has, believing that Vince doesn’t have faith in him and showing that, in the end, this night would never be remembered for Shawn Michaels winning the Championship.
Lucas Werneck and Jeremy Lawson’s artwork is pretty decent. It’s a bit reminiscent of the artwork being used in the main “WWE” comic. The capturing of the wrestlers visage are good to a fault. There are some times where I felt Shawn’s face was a bit off. Something I did enjoy was the decision to keep Vince in shadow whenever he was on, it really heightened the detached and malevolent presence he brought in this story without going overboard.
“Debut” by Brown, Lorenzo, Garbank & Campbell
Truth be told, I never appreciated Kurt Angle when I was a kid as much as I do now. He always came off as a doof. However, growing up and hindsight helped reading this story. It’s of Kurt’s debut at Survivor Series 1999 told to us via Angle in the presence reminiscing. It discusses how your skill doesn’t automatically gets you cheered and how he had to work for it. Brown also does a good job of subtly implying some of the hardships Angle would go through in his career. But at the end of it, Kurt would never forget the feeling of those first cheers.
Lorenzo and Garbank also provide a good job on this small story. The style is a bit more sketchy than the previous story, allowing for smoother action as we watch Kurt outwrestle his larger opponent. The art also has a much firmer handle on facial expressions, able to get Kurt’s likeness down very well, whether from twenty years ago or today.
“Down the Hatch” by Fridolfs, Stresing & Campbell
Ah, the Gobbledy Gooker, you are everything weird about Early 90s WWF. Can you believe this creature debuted the same as The Undertaker (we’ll get to that later)? Derek Frifolfs and Fred Stresing provide a small, cartoony story of the Gobbledy Gooker’s debut and portraying it sad that everyone got mad at the turkey. Admittedly it helps that the art team depict him like a cute loonytoon and the horrid costume that poor Hector Guerrero got saddled with. All in all, this is a fluffy little tale, sweet and quick.Continued below
“1 Minute, 26 Seconds” by Panetta, Goode & Campbell
We now come to the most recent Survivor Series, last year’s with the return of Goldberg after twelve years away from the ring to fight Brock Lesnar. It takes place from Bill’s perspective on why he decided to return and honestly, how you’re going to like this is going to be dependent on how much you like Goldberg. This is very much on the real life side of things where Bill came back so his son could see him compete and he missed being a hero to the kids. It’s fair enough, but the story itself just feels a bit flat.
The art on this one wasn’t something to write home about much either. It does its job well enough, but it does feel a bit flat. We do see Goldberg express anger when Paul Heyman drags Bill’s family into the feud, but the expression still feels lifeless. I’ll give credit though for when the actual match is depicted. All narration is removed and you can see all the spots of the very short match. It conveys the events, even if the attempts to convey emotion are lacking.
“The Root of All Evil” by Pitts, Williams, Cunniffe & Campbell
Confession time: The Undertaker is my favorite wrestler of all time. The Phenom, to me, is the best combination of athleticism and performance art that is required for Professional Wrestling, made famous by Mark Calaway’s dedication to the character. So there’s a little bias here when I can say I enjoyed this tale of the Million-Dollar Man, Ted DiBiase, traveling to Death Valley to hire the Undertaker to do his dirty work. Pitts nails DiBiase’s arrogance well, thinking he can control this man when he obviously cannot.
Williams and Cunniffe’s art is great for this story. It goes less for the dynamic, clean looks of the other stories and instead for a very rough style, much better for a horror comic than for a sport comic. The shadows are thick on the Dead Man until we finally get a close-up look of those eyes, barring right into Ted’s soul. The final piece to talk about is the first showing of the Undertaker in full coat and hat, it’s almost ethereal, despite it being in a sport arena.
“The Shield: Called Up” by Gillespe, Lattie, Garbank & Campbell
Our final story talks about the debut of perhaps the hottest faction of the decade: The Shield. There’s an interesting blend in the story as it shows the three trying to convince Triple H that they are ready for the main roster, who says they’re not ready. So, Seth decides they should take it in their own hands to make their own debut, which they would as CM Punk’s bodyguards (not that they mention that because let’s face it: if any WWE comic would mention Punk, it’d be the biggest shock in the book).It gives a nice display of the trio’s personalities; Dean’s hot-headedness, Seth’s cunning, Roman’s attempts to balance them out. It even plants the kernel that even back then; Triple H was already planning their downfall.
The artwork is unusual, but in a good way. It’s very stylized and exaggerated, but never going too far to break the story’s tone. It does a great job of showing the frustration among the trio, in particular Dean. It also has some nice little Easter Eggs, such as Triple H’s sledgehammer hung on his office wall and apparently Dean has a Jake “the Snake” Roberts plushy. Who knew?
All in all, “WWE Survivor Series” 2017 Special is a platter of decent stories that allow us to travel back down memory lane for a bit, even if none of the stories are incredibly revolutionary. Some may balk at the price point of the special, which is fair. But, if you had a light week and want some fun before this Sunday’s event, you could do worse.
Final Verdict: 6.9- A decent anthology taking a look at some of Survivor Series’s biggest moments.