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November 19, 2010

Titan Books Reviews: WWE Heroes: Rise of the First Born

WWE Heroes: Rise of the First Born

Publisher: Titan Books
Writer: Keith Champagne
Artists: Andy Smith, Tom Nguyen
Cover: Gary Erskine

Let’s be honest. Pro wrestling isn’t exactly taken as seriously as it was 30 years ago, or even 10 years ago. Even though the industry may not be in a boom period, that doesn’t stop WWE from expanding its product beyond the squared circle. And while it may be easy for non-fans to turn their noses up and say wrestling is beneath them, there’s no denying that WWE is a globally recognized and loved entertainment conglomerate. From top rated weekly television shows, to major motion pictures, to annual video game releases, and now to comic books.

Titan Books is adding luster to the WWE Universe by taking the WWE Superstars and adding twelve truck loads of sci-fi to the kayfabe. WWE Heroes: Rise of the First Born is WWE Heroes‘ first trade paperback collecting WWE Heroes #0-6. This first volume tells the story of the King of Shadows, a demon demigod, and his eternal feud with his brother, the First Born. When the Shadow King senses his brother’s presence somewhere within the WWE locker room, he employs the help of cult leader Reverend Josiah Brown to lockdown Wrestlemania, and find the First Born.

Now, I’m a long time die hard wrestling fan, and of course if any of the above plot aired on Monday Night Raw, I’d scream “Who the hell gave Vince Russo his job back?!” But since the WWE Superstars are back in comics, a lot more of the ridiculous is a lot easier to accept. However, there were some things about the story I enjoyed as a wrestling fan, but didn’t care for as a comic book reader.

If you’re not a wrestling fan, you’re likely to end up severely confused. The top stars of the WWE are featured, and names like John Cena, Triple H, the Undertaker, Rey Mysterio, and lots more all have roles, albeit brief at times. It’s assumed that you should already know who most of the characters are in this title, because none of the WWE Superstars are properly introduced for readers new to WWE’s characters. On top of that, there is little character difference between the wrestlers. John Cena, Triple H, Randy Orton, and Batista all seem like the same interchangeable muscly screaming guy.

As a wrestling fan, it was fun seeing WWE Hall of Famers like Rowdy Roddy Piper and Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, though I was offended when Big Show called Snuka “Stuka” on page 5.

The art in the book was very disappointing. Every character looked identical with the same goofy faces and expressions, the only exception being their specific hair or gimmick feature separating them. If John Cena weren’t wearing a hat, he could be easily mistaken for Randy Orton. It’s also annoying, and even inexcusable, that characters like Undertaker and Batista were missing their tattoos. Undertaker’s arms are completely bare throughout the whole story, and Batista’s ink is only present in a few panels. I found other inconsistencies throughout the book, like Randy Orton having a head of hair and missing tattoos early in the story, then bald, but with his tattoos later on.

Often times backgrounds were bland and empty, and the coloring was very unimpressive. Background characters were given very little thought, and are usually all wearing the same color. I did, however, enjoy Tom Nguyen’s few early pages at the beginning of the book. Some characters weren’t without silly facial expressions or veins bulging steroids, but his Vince McMahon was down right creepy to look at, and that’s a good thing.

WWE Heroes isn’t as PG as its weekly television shows; there are many references to death, and even a scene with Chris Jericho being taken backstage to be murdered, but the ideal reader for this title is still the young children WWE target.

If WWE Heroes: Rise of the First Born were a movie I would say it’s so silly it’s great, but as a comic book it will have trouble keeping the interest of veteran wrestling fans, let alone non-wrestling fans. But don’t expect WWE’s line of comics to end here; Titan Books will soon be releasing a series revolving primarily around the Undertaker — also written by Kieth Champagne with art by Tom Nguyen — which I’m looking forward to, because with the focus on just one character, the story has greater potential to appeal to both wrestling and comic book fans.

Andrew Hurst



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  3. How do you miss something important as tatoos and the hair? They help identify the personality of the characters and are very much a part of them. Man, it sounds like Titan didn’t care enough to put the effort into it. Hell if you’re not gonna draw the Deadman’s tats then keep him in a trench coat for the entire issue so there’s a reason we don’t see them.

    “Who the hell gave Vince Russo his job back?!” LMAO!!

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