Comic publisher Boom Studios recently released its first issue of WWE, a new comic series following the life and events of the company’s wrestlers. Writer Dennis Hopeless (Spider-Woman) and artist Serg Acuna tackle the worldwide phenomenon known as professional wrestling by getting into the minds of each character and following their exploits outside of the ring.
Hopeless talked with GameSpot about the first issue and his love of wrestling. In this first arc of the series. Hopeless and Acuna tell the story of wrestler Seth Rollins, right after he betrayed the other members of his group, the Shield.
“We have to jump back in time in order to not stumble what’s going on in television,” explained Hopeless. “Because the production of a comic takes a lot of time, it would be difficult to be doing super ‘right now’ stories. We had to jump back in time, but we also wanted to tell something that was so relevant and interesting to people that are avid WWE fans that watch every week. Shield and its former members’ storylines still have repercussions now. All of those guys are still forefront and top of the card or whatever you want to call it. Fleshing out their backstory and explaining how those rivalries started and what sent them all on the path they’re on now seemed like a natural place to jump in. Plus, each guy had a very different path.”
The first run of the book will contain three arcs, with each one focusing on a former member of the stable. November’s one-shot zero issue focused on the Shield breaking up, and the first arc explores where Seth Rollins went from there.
Hopeless explained why Rollins is the central character of the first arc: “He’s fantastic. He’s convinced he’s right all the time. He’s so self-obsessed and focused on his goals. He’s my favorite kind of heel where he thinks he’s right because it’s Seth Rollins’ world, and everyone else is living it. He chews scenery better than anyone. I wrote a promo for him in an upcoming issue that was 50% him saying it was ridiculous that everyone said they wanted to be WWE champion when they were growing up because of course they did. Then, [he] proceeded to tell us how we wanted to be WWE champion when he was a kid. He does not see himself as other people do. It’s always fun to write that, blinders on a character.”
“One of the challenges of the book is fleshing out characters so they’re interesting out of the ring. WWE television does in-ring matches so well. It’s so interesting and fun watch. You’d have a hard time competing with that in a comic. 20 pages of these guys in the wrestling ring wouldn’t be bringing something new. What we wanted to always do was make it more about the humanity of the characters, which entails fleshing out the backstories, fleshing the moments we didn’t get to see. The challenge was creating or finding a version of Seth Rollins that seems like a real person but doesn’t lose the over-the-top things you love about them.”
While this arc features the world from Rollins’ point-of-view, the second will follow Dean Ambrose, which Hopeless explained will be very different: “[Ambrose] is wild and crazy and likely to do things that are detrimental to his body. You’ll see the tone shift during the second arc when we shift to Dean. Then, [the tone] will shift again for Roman. They’re very character-centric stories. They control the tone quite a bit.”
For now, there does not seem to be plans beyond this first, large-scale arc. Hopeless said he would love to do a story about Bayley, as he is a huge fan of what’s going on with her.
The WWE comic series does have a good sense of humor about it as well, as each issue contains a back-up story featuring the New Day, written by Ross Thibodeaux and featuring the art of Rob Guillory (Chew). “Every time I see the backups, I’m like, ‘Aww. I want to do that,'” explained Hopeless. “I think that’s what WWE is. It’s 20% cartoon and 80% bad-ass, knuckle-busting beat-ups. You have to have both. You have to have the character drama, the action, and the crazy fun. That’s why New Day is so popular. They’re guys that can get into the ring and throw down, but they’re fun.”
Issue #1 of WWE is currently available in comic shops from Boom Studios.