The comic discussed here is available through Joe Hunter’s Patreon.
If I was a kid then Dean Ambrose would be my favorite wrestler. The guy’s got the inherent likability of your uncle who makes Mom cry on Thanksgiving by getting into a fist fight with your step-dad (your step-dad is Chris Jericho in this scenario). He reminds me of my Uncle Jerry, a guy who paid his rent with duffle bags full of money for years, trying to do a backflip on a trampoline after a couple drinks and driving himself to the hospital afterwards. The guy performs with a reckless abandon and when he starts going off on the mic about his exploits you’re having too much fun hearing him put the story together to call bullshit on it.
That’s the sort of mystique a professional wrestler needs to sell their character. The audience wants to believe in the reality of the show. Dean Ambrose recently co-starred in one of the most lowkey ridiculous segments in recent WWE Monday Night Raw history in which he and five other wrestlers sat atop ladders in the middle of the ring and started shit-talking each other.
In the middle of some relatively grounded promos in which his opponents described their various motivations, Ambrose starts with his “cool guy, no bullshit” shtick before throwing in a little spin with: “I’ll fight anybody. I’ll fight a polar bear. I’ll fight the mole people. I’ll fight aliens. I don’t care… Can we just get to fighting, please? C’mon!” That’s the sort of line that sparks the imagination of a wrestling fan and makes them think about Dean Ambrose getting into fist fights with monsters or ghosts, like a dirty Jack Burton who got lost on his way to Little China. Dean Ambrose’s entire job rests on making you take his declaration to fight the mole people seriously. If you’ve been watching him long enough, you absolutely do.
And that is how you wind up here with a comic called Dean Ambrose vs. The Mole People. Joe Hunter draws tousled hair, big jaws, and action with a strong, frenetic line that makes him the perfect guy to draw a Dean Ambrose tribute comic. These are two highly-skilled individuals who put a lot of craft into capturing the energy of someone who might not know what they’re doing. It didn’t take much (read: any) prompting for Hunter to spin one line from that ladder segment into an 8-page comic about an ordinary night in the life of Dean Ambrose in which he happens to fight a bunch of mole people.
This comic features no spoken dialogue and, really, it doesn’t need to. We don’t need Dean to explain what he was doing before, express shock over the appearance mole people, or talk any trash. He’s rolling with the situation without a word, normalizing the experience for the reader to create the sense of a much larger history with similar incidents. All the talking? That’s best saved for when he eventually tells this story on TV.
Animated touches such as Ambrose’s facial features appearing through a heavy stream of water poured over his head or popping the contents of a flask into his mouth for a power-up akin to Popeye’s spinach make this a fun affair. Wild punches land with some oomph thanks to the big, scratchy SFX (it looks the letters have been frantically drawn over and over with a pen to thicken them up), manga-esque speedlines, and some great comically-injured faces. There’s a joy to seeing Ambrose land his finishing move that one seldom sees outside of something like Goku launching a Kamehameha. This looks a helluva lot like the kind of comic Jack Kirby would have drawn if he had gotten really into shonen manga.
As an action comic and an extension of the Dean Ambrose myth perpetuated by the character, it’s a ball-and-a-half that might make you wonder why WWE doesn’t license their roster for more wacky licensed comics. Until they wise up and pay the guy to make comics for them, you can read Dean Ambrose vs. The Mole People by pledging $5 to Joe Hunter’s Patreon campaign.