WCW Comic Book Issue # 8
When we last left off, Sting had knocked himself in the head (but could still finish the match; concussions hadn't been invented yet) and was suddenly doing the bidding of The Ghoul, who, depending on which issue you read, either was or was not Ravishing Rick Rude.
The idea of a heel Sting (especially in the early 90s) is an intriguing one, even if it wasn't happening on WCW programming.
But instead of following that thread, Issue # 8 kicks off with The Stinger being beaten unmercifully by (who I'm guessing were supposed to be) The Four Horsemen circa early 1990, which left our hero with a legitimate knee injury that he needed to take half a year off from. Only.... there's no real explanation as to why we suddenly traveled back in time here.
The Stinger details his long, painful rehab process (which was legitimately covered by WCW television and the likes of Pro Wrestling Illustrated at the time). And hats off to Marvel, they do create some decent artwork that was reminiscent of the way Sting was working through that injury back then.
I also like the subtle attention to detail when they have Sting wearing a "Blade Runners" shirt, a sly nod to his pre-WCW tag team with The Ultimate Warrior. Having said that... did they really need to cover his face with sunglasses when he's going through rehab.
Anyways... Sting explains that once he regained the strength in his knee, he went on to great success in the ring, but never forgot about the hospital staff that helped him get back into shape.
So after returning to WCW from injury, The Stinger made it a habit of returning to the hospital, partly to flirt with the various nurses, and partly to entertain children.
This would be a heartwarming message, except that he entertains them by taking his shirt off (hmmmm) and lifting children up by one tire of their wheelchairs and hopefully not tipping little Adam over in the process.
Point being: Sting a true hero who inspires kids. In your face, WWF!
During his impromptu Make A Wish tour, Shirtless Sting encounters a young girl named Kira who has AIDS. Kira's mother explains that her friends don't want to see or touch her as a result... which is probably the most 1990s storyline in this entire comic book.
On one hand, major props for the folks at Marvel for addressing this very serious issue in a way that kids (and even wrestling fans) could comprehend. On the other hand.... not to sound like a jerk, but I'm wondering what The Ghoul has to do with all of this? Like, what the hell happened to that storyline? Did we just drop that entire angle?
Also of note, Kira's sister is encouraging her mom to make a play for The Stinger, at least until Sting plants a friendly kiss on the little girl's cheek -- then she wants him to herself. Sting has got serious game in this issue!
Sting attempts to cheer up Kira and her hospital friends with a whole bag full of shitty WCW baseball caps, when he encounters another child sobbing outside.
The child, whom I can only assume is children's favorite Caillou, is crying because his life is in shambles. Kids are making fun of him in school. Radiation is painful. And when his parents take him to a fancy restaurant, he doesn't have an appetite to eat his favorite foods: hamburger and french fries. Wait... you probably can't get that at a fancy restaurant anyways!
Sting decides to treat Caillou and the gang to some ringside seats at a WCW house show, which... okay, fine, I guess. Was the WWF not in town? But hey, at least they got ringside seats!
Sting comes to the ring first, snatches the mic away from a Mean Gene wannabe and dedicates his match to the hospital kids. But before the main event can even begin, Cactus Jack appears from underneath the ring and sneak-attacks The Stinger.
Was Jack supposed to be his scheduled opponent? Who knows - the announcer never got to finish his shtick. But given we've seen Sting and Cactus battle a few times in this series, it's entirely possible.
Sting dominates his opponent and insults him at the same time, by inferring that The Hardcore Legend doesn't know how to wrestle. Didn't Sting ever read Have A Nice Day? He should know that Foley was on his high-school wrestling at Ward Melville.
Sting mentions that he learned the Bulldog (no relation) from his friend Dustin Rhodes -- which may be Dustin's first reference in this comic series.
There's a ref bump - because, of course there is; this being WCW and everything - and this is when Cactus Jack decides to go all hardcore on Sting's ass. The rulebook goes out the window when the generic referee is knocked unconscious.
And wouldn't you know it? Caillou and his friends are losing their shit because they think that their new hero is in the fight of his life here. C'mon Sting -- you couldn't smarten up a bunch of Make A Wish kids to the business?
It seems horrible to say, but most of them would have taken the kayfabe to their (early) graves.
Eventually, Rick Rude interferes (I thought he was The Ghoul? Awwww, never mind...) and helps Cactus Jack beat the hell out of Sting, even going after his once-injured knee.
But wouldn't you know it, Sting finds a way to chase away the heels and retains his WCW World Championship (Did I mention he was WCW World Champion in this issue? Does it even matter any more?).
Like the champion he is (in this one issue of the comic), Sting celebrates his win with the hospital gang, and even thanks Caillou for inspiring him to victory. The Stinger even brings the kid into the ring and wraps the championship around his waist, as Marvel dedicates this issue to "all the children who are fighting their own difficult battles."
Now, that's a nice ending for this issue and it's hard to really be mad about that.... but, WHAT THE F*CK HAPPENED TO STING'S HEEL TURN?!?!