When I first read that ESPN the Magazine had teamed up with Marvel to create a one-time, limited edition comic book for LeBron James, I rolled my eyes and groaned. It was bad enough that Tim Tebow got his own comic book – not sure whatever happened with that – but now ESPN could profess its hot, stinky man love for the reigning NBA Finals MVP and gold medalist across 20-plus pages of embellished artistry. And when I read that the comic was titled “King of the Rings”, I pulled my eyes out of my head, dipped them in acid, shoved them back in their sockets and rolled them again.
But then a funny thing happened – I read the comic. It’s actually not terrible. Sure, in theory it only feeds the league’s greatest, most uncontrollable ego and provides more ammunition for the shallow belief that the Miami Heat can just steamroll the entire league for the next 5 years. I mean, it’s not out of the realm of possibility, but it’s still an obnoxious overstatement. When it comes to pure, comic entertainment value, though, this little book is pretty damn good.
For once, Marvel has created a sports-related comic book that is both absurd and tongue-in-cheek. James isn’t the NFL SuperPro, which was created through such desperate synergistic marketing schemes that the S should have been a dollar sign. Instead, King of the Rings has actual, honest-to-gosh comedy in it that actually plays on the absurdity of James’ ego. In the book, James receives special powers from a gypsy that allow him to win the next NBA championship, and as each year passes, his abilities and their origins get more and more absurd.
I’ve included some of the stills after the jump, and you can read the entire comic book here, but if you don’t at least laugh at zombie Shane Battier, then you may have no pulse.