Sunday, January 3, 2016

Andre The Giant: Closer To Heaven

 On the heels of Box Brown's excellent biographical graphic novel Andre The Giant: Life & Legend, IDW weighs in with another take on the story of Andre Rousimoff.

 As told by writer Brandon Easton and illustrator Denis Medri, ANDRE THE GIANT: CLOSER TO HEAVEN probably isn't going to teach you anything new about the life of the legendary wrestler, but it's still a tale well-told. Easton has Andre himself narrate the story, and Medri's illustrations perfectly capture Andre's likeness and the look and feel of The WWF of the 1980's.

 Easton and Medri's take on Andre's life is authorized by his estate, but they didn't whitewash any of his less ingratiating character traits, so you get Andre warts and all. (The foreword of the book is written by Andre's daughter, Robin, who painfully details the strained, awkward relationship she had with her father, and how they both wished that they could have been closer, a wish that would never come true, thanks to Andre's passing in 1993.)

 If I had any beef with this book, it comes with Easton and Medri's depiction of the infamous altercation between Andre and fellow wrestler Bad News Allen (Better known later as WWF superstar Bad News Brown.)- The incident sprung from Allen taking offense to hearing Andre use the word "nigger" while telling a story to another wrestler on a bus in Japan. Easton, or perhaps the publisher, IDW, decided to use the classic comic-book dodge of symbols in place of the offending word, which muddies the story, and may lead to confusion in people who are not already familiar with the truth about the incident. As it stands, it looks like Andre just uttered some random curse-word, and Allen flipped out for no reason when he heard it. There's not enough there, either story-or-art-wise, to convey that this was a racially-motivated incident. A small beef, but the lack of clarity bothered me.

 Overall, this book will be a hit with wrestling fans, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.