While many people may not realize it initially, professional wrestling has had a number of connections to the realm of comic books for many years. Aside from wrestlers like Batista, Edge, and Cody Rhodes appearing in comic book movies and TV shows (and the Green Arrow appearing on WWE programming), there have actually been a few WWE comics from Chaos!, Image, Valiant, and PaperCutz. Marvel Comics even created a series based on WCW. But back at San Diego Comic Con, BOOM! Studios announced a partnership with World Wrestling Entertainment that would see the creation of brand new comics based on WWE Superstars. And though a few teases for the upcoming ongoing title were revealed at the biggest con of the year, the incredibly enthusiastic BOOM! crew came to NYCC with some all-new details and exclusive never-before-seen artwork at their panel.
Series writer Dennis Hopeless joined executive editor Jasmine Amiri, WWE comics co-editor Eric Harburn, and managing editor Bryce Carlson for the panel. He started things off by saying that their approach is to delve deeper into the storylines that weren’t able to be fully explored on WWE television, starting with the break up of The Shield. Hopeless went on to say that ‘Friday Night Lights’ was a touchstone for the title and that the ongoing title debuting in January will focus on the humanity and the relationship of Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Seth Rollins outside of the ring. He also noted that writing a promo for Rollins was a highlight of his writing career.
The editorial team then jumped in by sharing that the first arc of ‘WWE’ #1, which hits shelves in January, will be Rollins-centric as it follows the Architect from his Money in the Bank win to current events (while staying a bit removed from current WWE storylines to avoid various inevitabilities such as injury and future endeavoring. However, each issue will contain shorter form stories spotlighting wrestlers from every era of WWE. For starters, in next month’s ‘WWE: Then. Now. Forever.’ one-shot that kicks off the new line of books, WWE’s resident artist Rob Schamberger provides a beautifully painted Sasha Banks story that involves her idol, Eddie Guerrero. There will also be a time travel story from ‘Chew’ artist Rob Guillory starring The New Day and another story featuring Tugboat. But beyond that, the team mentioned plans for stories involving Finn Balor, The Undertaker, and The Wyatt Family. In fact, Amiri shared that the script for the Wyatts story is a straight up horror comic and that the whole team is looking forward to exploring the different genres that they will be able to explore with this title.
Onto the new artwork, the panel revealed some pages from ‘Then. Now. Forever.’ that find Rollins, Reigns, and Ambrose enjoying a little downtime before getting in a sort of ‘Mad Max’-esque moto-brawl with Bray Wyatt and his minions. They also shared some variant covers for ‘WWE’ #1 featuring Razor Ramon and “Macho Man” Randy Savage. And though they didn’t have the image to show off, the editors described a really trippy/awesome Bayley cover that saw her arms turn into wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tube men that are hugging.
Although, the highlight of the revelations had to be the first of twelve interlocking covers from Brent Schoonover that will end up being a fantasy Royal Rumble match featuring stars of yesterday and today together in one ring. The first one features current WWE World Heavyweight Champion A.J. Styles facing off against “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels. As for the second one, the panel shared that “The Swiss Superman” Cesaro would be administering his signature Big Swing on “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. To see the beginning of this awesome variant cover series, as well as the rest of the artwork shared at the WWE/BOOM! Studios panel, check out the gallery below: