Written by: Joe Keatinge
Art by: Nick Barber & Simon Gough
Ringside #6 begins a new arc, but picks up emotionally where the debut left the series. It’s another gloomy chapter in a story of sadness and betrayal, deceit and violence. Ever since I found the series, which was just a few weeks ago, I’ve considered it the best Breaking Bad spinoff that isn’t actually a Breaking Bad spinoff. It carries with it a similar tone, similar characters, but tells a wholly original plot that leaves you feeling dirty and melancholic while blurring the lines of right and wrong. In general for the series, I believe it’s unlike many other comic available right now. It’s so refreshing to see a comic that can take a very adult plot, treat it with great care, and hold readers’ attention the way Ringside does. This review isn’t about Ringside as a whole though, it’s about issue 6, but I remain optimistic, thankfully, because this issue continues the series’ run of exceptional storytelling.
While Ringside has been and continues to be a very character-driven series, the artwork by Nick Barber goes a long way in invoking that aforementioned melancholic tone. The sixth issue, like all before them, and maybe all future issues, leaves you with a feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop, and the color palette imbues the story’s world with that same unease. Danny Knossos is the washed up Minotaur who’s now just looking to make ends meet and stay out of trouble. These are two things he’s unfortunately very bad at, however, and issue 6 shows us just how deep into the void of criminal activity he’s fallen. Still, he is maybe the purest character of them all, at heart, which is why the series has so far felt a bit torturous. As the protagonist, we are meant to feel what he feels, see what he sees. But we also see more than that, and the use of dramatic irony is played greatly in Ringside again and again. Another property I liken to Ringside, one that fits even more snugly than Breaking Bad, is the Aronofsky film The Wrestler. Both tell tales of an industry that chews up its product and spits them out when they’re no longer of use. Knossos is very much a Mickey Rourke-like character who wants to right his ship in the second half of his life, but he just can’t seem to get ahead.
Everything that revolves around the actual pro wrestling in the story is told with an obvious familiarity for the medium. The glossary of terms like kayfabe, work, shoot, and so on are all used cleverly to mirror the events of in-ring action alongside the primary story of Danny’s quest to save his companion. The future is dim for Danny, but so, so bright for this series. Issue 6 is exceptional, and so too is the rest of the burgeoning series. If you’re a fan of pro wrestling, crime dramas, or comic book fare that departs from the usual superhero route, there may be few more deserving of your pull list than Ringside.