Review: one last, glorious time for those Vreckless Vrestlers….
Vreckless Vrestlers Issue 4 + 5
This whole series, a silent Polish comic where the language of violence, ridiculous ideas and over the top action is all you need to understand and enjoy this has been grand fun. But here, spectacularly, wonderfully, it all ends, wordless but ever so loud… after all, as we’re told from issue zero onwards; “Vrestlers fight not chat!”
All 6 issues (issue 0 was an introduction to the Machiavellian wide-boy behind it all) concern themselves with the professional intergalactic wrestling league (where the only rule is there are no rules). The Vrestlers are a motley bunch, assembled through space and time by the mysterious manager, and we’ve watched various knockout bouts where everything builds to a climactic finale in the final issue.
So, where did the Manager get hold of the time travel kit? Why is he doing this? What do the Vrestlers get out of it? There are a fair number of questions around the comic, and none of them are answered here, after all, the whole point of the comic thus far is there’s simply no point, this just isn’t a comic about enlightenment or subtlety, this is a comic all about the fighting, the incredible, totally implausible, absolutely bonkers fighting. All the strange fun of a childhood watching overweight men bouncing around a ring pretending to hate each other on World Of Sport in the late 70s comes flooding back. Except these wrestlers are doing it for real. The flowing blood and broken bodies are a sure sign of that.
Here in the combined issues 4 & 5 (the finale billed as “Double Sized Triple Trouble”) we first see ‘Vegan Cat’ win through against ‘Reptail’ before we get to the main event the no-holds barred, no quarter given, all bets are off, only one of them shall get out alive etc etc etc final bout.
In the red corner (well, actually, on my digital copy it’s the vivid green corner, as is the opposite corner for that matter, but I’m going with the wrestling vernacular here) we have Vegan Cat. In the blue corner, it’s Reptail…
The sequence between The Cat and Reptail is Kowalczuk’s finest artwork of the whole series, a magnificent piece of silent storytelling, a masterclass on getting everything right, the control, the flow, the intensity just doesn’t let up until the never certain outcome, as The Cat struggles to his feet…
Yes, it has been a SLUG FEST, and in case you didn’t realise, here’s a reminder….
Yes, more fabulously playful artwork.
After this things take something of a twist, as Kowalczuk deviates from the template he’s carefully crafted thus far. The finale, Vreckless Mania, between ‘Vegan Cat’ and Bull-God’ is huge, a multi-media trans-dimensional event, with the marketing cranked right up; games, toys, the official Prowleague game, the dimensional televisual audience huge, as are, thanks to some very suspicious drugs being pumped into their veins, the competitors, impossible muscles rippling, this soon turns into something gladiatorial, complete with slaves to sacrifice, the level of brutality and horror ramped up to fit the corporate overlords controlling the live-feeds.
The final bout lacks any of the brutal beauty of the battling Vrestlers we’ve seen thus far, and degenerates into a drug assisted nightmare of bulging muscles out of control, which is just what Kowalczuk wants, surprising me with how extreme he takes it at the end, turning the whole thing into something more than I was expecting, and brilliantly so.
Vreckless Vrestlers has been so many things, but throughout it all it’s been an example of how to deliver wordless, truly international comics, Kowalczuk displaying excellent storytelling all through, the fighting at times becoming balletic in amongst all the blood and over the top gore.
Excellent work, a great series that delivered all it promised to and really ended it all with something out of the ordinary. Highly recommended.