Comic Book Review: WWE #9
In all of professional wrestling today, there is probably no one as more polarizing as Roman Reigns. In fact, he may be one of the most polarizing performers ever and that’s an indisputable fact based on his reception every time he enters the ring. Whether you love him or hate him, you can’t ignore him and that’s what “WWE” #9 gets at in this issue, the first of the Roman Reigns centric arc. It’s a surprisingly heartfelt issue that provides a ton of added context for the character.
“WWE” #9 has a very misleading cover. Instead of being about Roman and the Wyatt family, it takes a much more personal approach. This issue flips back and forth between Roman’s childhood and the unfolding drama between his former Shield brothers. Dean Ambrose has just won the Money In the Bank briefcase and Roman is getting ready to face Seth Rollins for the WWE Championship.
I’ve been impressed by Dennis Hopeless’ writing from the first issue but he does something incredibly interesting here with Roman Reigns. If you’ve watched even one episode of Monday Night RAW you’ll understand just how loud the boos for him are. Hopeless decides to run with that and addresses the fact that sometimes people just don’t like you and there’s nothing you can do about it but continue to be yourself. Roman Reigns is one of the hardest workers in the WWE. He’s there every show and regularly puts on top tier matches yet people still hate him. In the flashbacks, Rikishi shows up as baby Roman plays with baby Usos (BABY USOS YOU GUYS) and instills an important lesson into Roman. In the real world, people choose sides based on how someone acts and that’s just that. Heroes have to be heroes, always but someone like Reigns exists in this weird middle space. Roman Reigns always gets up. He doesn’t listen to the crowd anymore. He knows he controls the ring but at times, has also fought against The Authority (the bad guys) and done what’s right. He’s not a guy who’s scared to be confident. He’s not the underdog and maybe because of all this, he’s a guy people want to boo. Hopeless illustrates all this through the different points in Reigns’ life and through this match with Seth Rollins. He gets into the head of Roman Reigns in a way that TV just can’t do and that’s what has continued to make “WWE” such a special comic book to read. I realize at this point that I sound repetitive but what this comic book has done is really unique because it has found ways to make things we’ve already seen play out on TV feel new and worth revisiting.
Serg Acuna’s art continues to be fantastic and I love the range he shows in this issue especially. There are a few different time periods spread out in the story and Acuna’s art perfectly changes with each one. The innocence in young Roman Reigns slowly comes apart as he learns rough lessons and so much of that comes through silently in his changing expressions. The character likenesses continue to be really good and I like how much liberty Acuna takes in making them look like they feel things. This isn’t a comic book full of poster like pin ups with very serious men but instead one full of actual human emotion and it really elevates this. I adore the action in this issue and may be some of my favorite so far. The perspective used and the speed lines along with the energetic crowds make this feel like WWE action. Doug Garbark’s colors are still very good and like Acuna, he has the job of making the flashbacks feel separate from the current day. I like the more muted approach he takes. It isn’t quite dreamlike but there’s something about it that feels long ago.
“WWE” #9 puts Roman Reigns front and center in really different and significant way. Whether you like him or hate him, you can’t deny that this story is off to a very strong start. I’m excited to get deeper into this point of view into wrestling’s most polarizing figure.