Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Ringside, Volume 1: Kayfabe Review (Joe Keatinge, Nick Barber)

Dan “The Minotaur” Knossos is a retired wrestler looking for his estranged ex-boyfriend Teddy, a search that takes him down into the depths of the criminal underworld…

Joe Keatinge is an inconsistent writer who can sometimes produce a good comic but Ringside, Volume 1: Kayfabe is one of the bad ones. A wrestling comic about over-the-hill wrestlers sounded interesting, and the concept still might work with a better creative team, but Ringside doesn’t. 

The stoic old tough guy who comes to town to knock seven bells out of the local criminal wildlife has been done better more recently in Southern Bastards, so it was an interesting choice to show our hero as being all bark and no bite. I thought it was a clever commentary on wrestlers as actors portraying tough guys but, outside of their characters, they’re just ordinary guys - until Keatinge needed Dan to be The Punisher/Batman and beat the snot out of the bad guys towards the end. Ho hum, there goes any shot at original storytelling in this comic, falling back on predictable tropes. 

The theme of retired wrestlers having a tough time making a living gets repetitive real quick. The dull subplot features an older wrestler training a younger wrestler, showing us that the older dudes are in rough shape after years of matches, hardly make any money at cons, and struggle to make a living. Got it, didn’t need to have it repeated over and over all the way through. Also, if you’re a wrestling fan, and that’s the demo this comic is mainly targeting, you’ll already know this so it’s a redundant observation. 

Nick Barber’s art is so rudimentary, it’s extremely underwhelming and unattractive. Also, the characters are so indistinctly drawn that the ending’s meaning is lost on the reader - who are those guys we’re looking at? Are they Dan and the other dudes? Terrible. 

It’s a nice idea for a comic but Keatinge/Barber botch it with Ringside, making the series the Bushwhackers of the Image Comics lineup. Check out The Resurrection of Jake the Snake documentary for a vastly more compelling look at retired wrestlers.

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