I don’t follow mixed martial arts, nor do I care to. I never got into boxing or “professional” wrestling, either. Heck, the closest I came to becoming a fan of any wrestling was when I was reading “The Thing” in the 1980s and following Ben Grimm’s adventures in the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation. So, naturally, when it came down that there would be a new comic centered on MMA, I had no intention to review it.
That was before a relaunch and a summer full of tedious events. I read books I never thought I’d read and, honestly, never plan to read again. What would it hurt to read this MMA book and offer up my two cents?
I’m glad I took this detour. Mind you, this is not groundbreaking literature. This isn’t going to be the next “Watchmen,” “Maus,” or even “Dark Knight Returns.” It is, however, a story about a young man and his quest to find relevance, something everyone struggles with at some point in their lives. Blair Butler delivers a story that reads like a peek into the main character’s brain. The narrative boxes are filled with the thoughts of Oren “Rooster” Redmond and not just written to set the story. Rooster’s a self-centered individual who comes across as overly cocky and borderline asinine in the early pages of the book. As the story progresses though, Butler shows us there’s more to this character than the brash exterior we are introduced to.
Kevin Mellon’s art is fittingly rough and deceptively simple. Reminiscent of John Romita, Jr.’s stuff, but less stylized, Mellon’s art powerfully conveys the story without relying on colors to enhance it. Rooster’s world is black and white, pure and simple, stark and harsh. That harshness plays out well as Rooster is getting his face punched in, barfing in a wastebasket, or just waiting for his big bout. Mellon’s work on the fights and the quieter moments is consistent and strong. This comic may not feature superheroes, but there is enough action and dynamic storytelling to make this a very readable book.
This isn’t a “fun” or “feel good” story. When it’s all over, I’m not even sure if this will be a memorable story, but I do know that right now, in this first issue, this is a compelling story with a very human protagonist who is relevant enough that I’m going to come back for more. I’m certain other readers will see some of their own trials and tribulations in this tale.