Undertaker Takes on Comics

Bloggified by Jake on Sunday, October 29, 2006

When Chaos! Comics and the World Wrestling Federation teamed up to make several of the WWF's biggest stars (and at the time it was still WWF) into comic book characters, a threshold of awesomeness was breached that proved so great the universe could not withstand it without collapsing upon itself. Thus, within a year, the titles were gone and the world was safe, though we were left with the question: Is a world without Mankind and Undertaker photo covers a world worth saving?

By far my favorite part of the comics was seeing how the writer decided to merge the character's in ring persona with the more grandiose story planned for the comic. In many ways, the comic was better suited for the stories of these larger than life characters as it wasn't confined to the arenas and rings of the WWF.

If you think about it, why would an immortal, supernatural being born of hellfire and brimstone and a destiny to stand between two warring factions in a battle for control of the kingdom of hell bother showing up to squash Fit Finlay in a Birmingham house show?

Unfortunately, many comics ignored this question. For example, Kevin Nash was a Mad Max-type of drifter doing good in a post-apocalytic world full of thugs with a tendency to run face first into raised boots and a weakness for being powerbombed. If he wound up wrestling someone in a ring, it was in a makeshift ring in a half-blown up building, not at an official WCW event.

Undertaker, however, had the good sense to follow through and explain why the Lord of Darkness is under contract to Vince McMahon.It seems the warring factions of hell have decided the best way to settle their ultimate battle is to send demons to the surface world in the human form and have them duel at professional wrestling events. Sure, because what better venue could there be for the fight to command all of hell?

On one side of the war you have Paul Bearer, the 500-pound snivler who's served as a manager to Undertaker, Kane, Koko B. Ware, and pre-Doink the Clown Matt Borne. On the other side is "The Embalmer."Somehow, the Necronomicon Ex Mortis seems a whole lot less threatening when you know there are caricatures of Paul Bearer in it.

The Embalmer, who clearly suffered from the writer's inability to find enough funeral-related terms to settle on a decent name for his characters, was also on the mortal plane. While Paul Bearer chose to hide his demonic true self in the form of a tactical advisor to Big Van Vader and Kamala, the Embalmer has used his talents to make himself a billionaire CEO of Millenium Corporation, one of the most powerful companies in the world.

Given those two options, where would you put your money if Vegas was taking action on "War for Hell"? Maybe there's some grander strategy to being an obese wrestling manager, but to me this match up looks like if for the Super Bowl you had Bill Belichick on one sideline and my blind Aunt Esther on the other listening to "Deal or No Deal."Embalmer's reaction there as he punches his desk into splinters to serve as a message to those who doubt him makes me think of when I was in elementary school and kids would threaten one another by grabbing a piece of paper or a piece of clay and tell their opponent, "This is your face!" before crumpling or squashing the inanimate object.

Considering how much happened in the corporate offices of Enron, it's hard to say this for certain, but I really find it hard to believe a corporate officer who incinerates people who dare to mention the Undertaker in his presence... with his fingertips... in his own office... wouldn't raise some suspicions. This guy has to have been profiled by Forbes, right?

Ugh, the more I describe this, the more I'm convinced he absolutely could get away with this and that the Forbes article would praise him up and down for his unified vision and refusal to listen to doubters.

In an attempt to get to the Embalmer, Undertaker goes backstage at a WWF event to pick a fight with some of the bad guy's humanized demonspawn, namely the Kissin' Cousins tag team.In case you missed it, Kissin' Cousins' names are Smooch and Pucker. They drop their fleshy facades and grab Undertaker, transporting him to Millenium Corp.'s headquarters, where the Embalmer prances about in that mask from the Necronomicon picture above. From the time he arrives, the remaining twelve pages feature nothing but disjointed, poorly laid out sequences of Undertaker fighting demons.Sometimes he has witty rejoinders.Sometimes he doesn't.Sometimes his catchphrases don't make a lot of sense given the context of the story.I mean, if you were from Denver and someone threatened you by saying, "I'm putting you on a direct flight to Colorado!", you wouldn't be very frightened. Why would a demon from hell be intimidated by Undertaker's threat here?

And sometimes his comments don't make any sense period, regardless of the context of the story.Thay demon didn't ask Undertaker or anyone else to take his calls. And how do you stab something with an object as blunt as a telephone? These are just a few of the questions raised by this "more than half" of the book. Others include:

  • Is the Undertaker going up or down in that elevator?
  • Why would the Kissin' Cousins teleport Undertaker to their boss's headquarters knowing full well his intention is to hunt and kill their boss?
  • Why didn't Undertaker come to the headquarters himself instead of going to a wrestling arena?
  • If demons have teleportation powers, why do they have to use stairs?
  • If demons can phase through walls and ceilings, why do they have to use stairs?
  • How do you kill creatures who already live in the realm of the afterlife?
  • What is that sound effect supposed to represent?
  • What about that one?
  • Seriously, something in that frame went "BLAM!" which one might assume is a gunshot, but all we see is a close up of Undertaker's face and nothing in the ensuing frames seems to have gone BLAM! Did you guys plan these sound effects or were they just plugged in randomly?
In the end, before any of the questions can be answered, Undertaker gets shot in the back by the Embalmer's flamethrowing fingers in a cliffhanger ending... the conclusion of which was not readily available in the quarterbox.

But come back tomorrow for a special Halloween jump ahead to the penultimate issue of the series!

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