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In early March 2023, Emerald City Comics in Clearwater, Florida announced a special meet and greet with Chris Jericho taking place on Saturday, March 18th. The meet and greet was a celebration of the release of Jericho’s first venture into comic books a four-issue mini-series titled Chris Jericho’s The Painmaker (Semkhor Comics).
Fans of Jericho will likely be familiar with Jericho’s Painmaker persona, which he debuted in New Japan Pro Wrestling several years ago. As for the comic book, Jericho’s writing partner David Shapiro told the Tampa Bay Times, “The concept is what would a serial killer look like if he was a pro wrestler.” Ahead of the event, fans could purchase a meet and greet package for $320, which included “a collectible package and VIP access to Jericho,” or you could just pre-order the comic book for $40, which is what I did, since I live in Michigan.
I pre-ordered the “Origin Comic Package,” which Emerald City Comics advertised was “for those who want to take a first step in helping to build the Painmaker Universe. It features a combination of a physical and digital comic and collectibles. This is edition #1 and when sales close, the cover will never be issued again.” This package included the first issue of the comic book, a trading card, a 3×3 inch sticker, and “a digital collectible (NFT) which allows access to a digital version of the comic that includes frame animations, a blockchain game and access to a community that will continue to expand the Painmaker Universe.” It was stated that all items were expected to ship shortly after Jericho’s March 18th appearance at Emerald City Comics, and I received my order on May 11, 2023.
My first thought was that I thought the cover of the comic book looked great. It’s a simple but catchy cover, featuring the title, Painmaker, in a jagged red font, and an image of Jericho, face spattered with blood, eyes glowing demonic red, in his Painmaker costume. If I saw it on the shelf in my local comic book store I would buy this comic for the cover art alone. The art is credited to John Gaertner, who I think did the best work with this comic.
The additional collectibles that came with the comic book were more of a mixed bag. The sticker is a pretty standard sticker, featuring the title of the comic and a close-up drawing of the Painmaker, so no complaints there but being a trading card collector I have some difficulty calling the trading card included a trading card. Granted, they did say it would be a single-sided trading card but it feels more like a flimsy bookmark, if you ask me. Also, I could honestly care less about the advertised NFT, but there was nothing in my package that alluded to one, so I assume that either they forgot to include something related to this in my package, or they decided to drop the NFT gimmick (which is probably for the best).
As for the comic book itself, the art is definitely the highlight, so kudos to Gaertner, but when I saw the cover credit the story to Jericho and Shapiro, it made me wonder, what story did they write? Obviously, comic books are a visual medium but there’s barely any dialogue or narrative to hold this comic together.
The book basically breaks into two separate sections. First, the Painmaker defends an outpost of some sort against a werewolf, which he impales on the spikes on his leather jacket and calls a “wannabe.” Next, the story jumps to a post-apocalyptic city, where we see a single panel showing a theater marquee advertising a Fozzy concert, presumably the very last band to perform on this barren wasteland and then a building or warehouse of some sort decorated with colorful bunny and rainbow flags and inside is a large, barbarian looking character sitting upon a unicorn throne. A car full of green goblins or demons crashes the car into the building, where the barbarian attempts to fight them off but the goblins are victorious and the barbarian lies in a pool of his own blood, presumably dead. After this, we see the Painmaker again, standing atop a mountain. The end.
Granted, there’s supposed to be three more issues of this comic and one can hope that the subsequent issues will better explain what happened in the first issue but I can’t say at this point that I have any plan or desire to read the further adventures of Chris Jericho’s The Painmaker. Even though I enjoyed the cover and interior art, that’s just not enough to make up for the lack of story. I already paid $40 for the first comic, a sticker, a trading card and an advertised NFT that I didn’t receive so the novelty of the first issue was plenty for me. I can no longer find where this or future issues of this comic book are available for sale, not even eBay (which makes me wonder if I ordered the only copy), but here’s a link where you can order a Painmaker poster signed by Jericho.