There is something to be said for the moment when you discover a hidden gem in the comic book world. The rush and feeling of euphoria that sweeps through your body as you slowly realize that no one knows anything about your majestic find. Then from out of the blue, another thought creeps its way into your mind. Does anyone else know of this book? If not, I need to tell them. I need to tell the world.
It’s 1976 in San Antonio, Texas and Eric “New Fish” Layton is the latest superstar to Southwest Wrestling. He’s a former NFL player and thanks to a blown knee, needs work. As Eric begins to learn the ropes in his new found career path; he discovers that his boss, Tony Frank, promoter of the National All-Star Wrestling League might be doing something a little less legal than putting on wrestling shows.
To see if Eric’s up to snuff Tony has his right hand man and top heel, Doghouse put him through the ringer. Able to take a beating and prove that he’s a team player Eric slowly moves in good graces and is brought deeper into the fold. Against his best intentions and with a mother in need of surgery Eric has no real choice but to slowly emerge himself into a dark crime riddled world. As Eric stumbles through his new found job as a wrestler and thug, his traveling buddy and wrestling veteran, Joe Thomas takes him under his wing to give him the rules.
As time passes Tony has becomes more trusting of Eric and starts to bring him in close to the business. Eric meets with Bobby Sweet, the AWL champ and Lilly Burns who also toured the territories with an all female wrestling group. Tony, Lilly and Bobby were like the three amigos of hustling and crime. They all had worked together in the past but a riff had made all of them tense. Chalk it up to a violent misunderstanding between Bobby and one of Lilly’s girls. Then add a beating from Doghouse given to Bobby to keep him in check. Can the three of these massive untrusting egos work together and continue their hustle, better yet; will Eric make it out to tell the tale?
Whew doggie, I can’t express how entertaining Swerve is. But I’m going to try. To start, the strongest take away from Swerve is the pacing. The beats that Jon Judy’s story hits are perfectly placed. It keeps the reader tuning the page just to see where this freight train of crazy-awesome is going. This story is a blast and truly excels in the graphic novel format; granted it was interesting as digital singles but Swerve’s narrative hearty goodness proves that it is something that needs to be chugged not sipped. Meaning you’ll want to kill this in one sitting and still want more.
A second stand out in Swerve is the art and color. Dexter Wee’s art sits well with Chris Hall’s colors. It’s some sort of match made in indie comic book heaven. Their collaboration brings a dirty rugged look to the world that complements the narrative perfectly. Not only that, Wee presents more than a few “oh shit panels” that will put a sinister smile on your face, I promise.
In closing, if you go into the book worried about your lack wrestling knowledge, don’t be. The wrestling that takes place is well done but far from overbearing or intimidating. If you’re expertise is in wrestling that’s great. You’ll get the sweet touches sprinkled into the story as a reward. But if a wrestling book is all you’re looking for I hate to say it, but this book might not fit the bill; simply because Swerve does more than just that. So your best bet is to take on Swerve with the mindset of a crime story with the backdrop in the wrestling world. If you do that then you’ll be set to enjoy one of the best graphic novels I’ve read in a long time.
Writer: Jon Judy
Artist: Dexter Wee
Release Date: 02/12/2013