It’s been a long time since I sat down and watched professional wrestling, but after finishing Agents of S.L.A.M., that’s exactly what I want to do. First, though, I want to share Agents of S.L.A.M. with my two daughters and then introduce them to the world of professional wrestling and tell them why I loved it so much as a kid and well into college.
Agents of S.L.A.M. tells the story of wrestling vlogger Katie Jones as she spends time capturing the heroics of her pro wrestling hero Bruno Bravado and the other Agents of S.L.A.M., who also just so happen to be real heroes working for the President of the United States to save the planet from the evil W.D.S. (World Domination Society). Katie Jones isn’t just any fan though, she’s a superfan and her love of wrestling is infectious. Katie’s excitement is authentic and the creative team of writer Dave Scheidt, artist Scoot McMahon, and colorist Heidi Black capture that so well.
There is plenty of wrestling and world-saving action scenes, and Scoot McMahon’s thick lines suit this story well and make it fun and engaging. I imagine younger readers will find a lot to enjoy, especially with Heidi Black’s colors that are bright and vibrant and pop off the page so much you may need to duck out to the way of a flying elbow or suplex. The lettering is big and bubbly, but the real standout is the SFX, especially in the wrestling scenes with things like “CLOTHESLINE!” and “FLEX.”
Agents of S.L.A.M. is packed with such a colorful array of characters and personalities that, for me, evoked that mid to late 80s era of professional wrestling, like when Hulk Hogan had his own Saturday morning cartoon Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling. In addition to Bruno Bravada, there’s Marvelous Monica, Red Reaper, Tex, and Granny A.K.A Agatha “The Lion” Johnson. Each character is so perfectly suited for this story to assist Katie on her journey from fan to hero.
The storyline has a few twists and turns, and every chapter ends with a perfect cliffhanger, compelling the reader forward. There isn’t just sweet wrestling action, though. This story has a 4,000-year-old mummy, aliens, a dragon, giant monsters, and a secret moon base with a laser! All that fun and excitement aside, Agents of S.L.A.M. is filled with so much heart as Katie navigates heartbreak and betrayal to find the hero within herself. There’s also a B-plot involving siblings Red Reaper and Rane, the latter of which is the right hand of Master Zero, leader of the W.D.S. Although there isn’t necessarily a happy ending for everyone, the groundwork is laid for forgiveness, redemption, and moving forward, which I really appreciated.
Agents of S.L.A.M. can and will be enjoyed by everyone that picks it up, but especially older fans of fun stories and professional wrestling who want to introduce their kids to the topic before jumping into WWE or AEW. It’s also wonderful to see a middle-grade book like this with a female, non-white lead character. Representation is so important for kids, for them to be able to see themselves in the heroes in their stories, and Katie Jones is definitely a hero.