Cody Rhodes Photos © 2009 World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
By Arune Singh
As the son of the legendary Hall of Fame wrestler "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes, WWE Superstar Cody Rhodes was bred for success.
Now, as a member of the faction known as The Legacy, teaming with WWE Champion Randy Orton and Ted DiBiase, also sons of WWE Hall of Famers, Rhodes has arrived as one of WWE's biggest superstars.
However, it's not just about in ring victories on WWE Monday Night RAW to Rhodes, as he's now part of WWE and YALSA's SummerSlam Reading Jam
campaign to conquer the problem of youth illiteracy. Marvel.com spoke with Rhodes about this partnership with YALSA and his longtime love for comic books.
"I just think it's a great opportunity and just a cool thing that WWE is doing," explained Rhodes. "Any opportunity to get the message out there, encouraging teens and tweens to read, is important because reading helps you across the board. I wasn't a studious kid but I can tell you that I've benefited greatly from reading comic books. It sounds ridiculous, but comics helped me a lot and I'm sure they could help a lot of other people too, from kids to adults. I've visited libraries and read to kids, which was an amazing experience for them and me."
From partnering with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to sending Superstars overseas for the groundbreaking Tribute to The Troops, WWE is one entertainment company that's become quite well known for giving back to the community at large.
"I'm so glad that WWE is such a charitable organization," said Rhodes. "When my father came up in the wrestling business, he was part of the original Championship Wrestling from Florida and his boss was a man named Eddie Graham. Eddie was very much like Vince McMahon [WWE Chairman] and the entire McMahon family who've been very focused on giving back to the community. When you think you're tired from Monday Night Raw, you can't forget that you've got signings, book readings and most importantly that it's all part of being a true WWE Superstar. It's something that everyone across the board, all our Superstars and Divas, get excited about because it's fun. It sounds cheesy, but this is why we do it—we love putting smiles on people's faces."
Comic books have played a large role in Rhodes' life since his childhood and he credits them with expanding his vocabulary, both in everyday situations and when cutting a promo in front of live audiences all over the world.
"Comics helped my vocabulary tremendously. They're a great resource for what I do now, because you've got to have that personality and flair when you're on WWE programming," Rhodes said. "Comics books make you feel a bit worldly because they take you places—places that are fictional, but you're still traveling with these characters and that's where it helped me the most."
While comic books certainly inspire how the WWE Superstar may deliver menacing speeches to his opponents, don't expect him to mimic the vernacular of any specific character in the near future. However, if you're paying close attention to his recent matches, you might notice that Rhodes wore tights that paid homage to a Marvel Comics hero.
"While I've switched to new tights, I recently did a shoot with tights inspired by Archangel of the X-Men," Rhodes admitted. "I'd been talking to different gear people, seeing if I could get gear inspired by certain comic characters to wear on WWE Monday Night Raw and other programming by showing them pictures of Marvel characters I like. I showed one guy a picture of Archangel and got him to make me tights in his colors. They're strong—that blue and that pink—but he did it and I was so excited about it because they're dead on. It's the only one I got out of the box but I'm happy it worked out so well."
Rhodes was especially happy because Archangel, currently a member of the X-Men and clandestine X-Force team, is one of his favorite characters.
"I grew up with the cult characters and I was, as you can guess, a big Archangel fan, but I was an even bigger Omega Red fan. I feel like Omega Red gets no play—when there's a perfect opportunity to present Omega Red he's not there anymore," he said.
"The Inhumans were awesome too. I'm a big fan of Marvel characters but just never connected with the big mainstream guys. I convinced my girlfriend—and she thinks this is ludicrous—to get me this Cyclops statue. It's about four feet tall, the size you'd see in a comic store at the front door, and I dig Cyclops because he was always the leader, always the guy who took charge even though it was about Wolverine to so many other people," Rhodes made clear. "He was the man who took the burden of leading the team, of living up to Xavier's ideals and took all the criticism when he tried to apply those teachings. Like Omega Red, he never really got his due from the fans."
A big gaming fan—he's even got the Triforce from the popular Legend of Zelda series of games on his wrestling boots—Rhodes hopes that Omega Red makes it into "Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2."
"I know it won't happen, but I'd love to see it in there—he's my guy!" he said. "I'm hankering for 'Ultimate Alliance 2.' I had 'Ultimate Alliance' for Xbox and they did so well with all the suits and all the characters—the replay value was really up there. If they stuck with the same cast from 'Ultimate Alliance,' just tweaking the game play and graphics a bit, perhaps the story a bit—that's a great game."
Rhodes' passion for Marvel video games doesn't end with "Ultimate Alliance." "In my garage I have the six-player 'X-Men Arcade' machine from 1992. It needs a little refurbishing, but it's like the machine I used to pump quarters into as a kid and it still gets play from me because it's such a classic! It's a lot easier on free play mode [laughs]. I'm either Nightcrawler or Cyclops, but I feel bad when we have six players because someone has to be Dazzler and no one ever wants to be Dazzler [laughs]."
With the intense travel schedule for WWE Superstars, Rhodes finds trade paperbacks a great way to stay current on all things Marvel and revealed just which books have captured his attention.
"It's a little dated, but I capped off reading and re-reading both SECRET INVASION and CIVIL WAR and I liked where we're going with Bucky as Captain America," he revealed. "I've really enjoyed the CAPTAIN AMERICA series from the introduction of the Winter Soldier until now. I'm really excited to read about Captain America's return."
With his passion for the Marvel Universe, it's no surprise that Rhodes has thought about which character he'd be in the Marvel Universe—namely Archangel, because he believes the two share a similar martyr complex.
And if Cody Rhodes was Archangel, one has to wonder: would this make his mentor, Randy Orton, his Apocalypse?
"Apocalypse…En Sabah Nur could live forever and does not hear voices in his head [alluding to Randy Orton's theme song Voices]; he creates the voices," Rhodes said.
In the WWE Universe, The Legacy is home to the elite second and third generation WWE Superstars and there's been discussion among fans of adding another member to the stable. Were Rhodes to recruit from the Marvel Universe, he's only got one choice in mind, "Patriot from the Young Avengers. Sometimes it's hard to get into new characters, especially teenage ones, but I really like the Young Avengers. Hulkling's a tough guy, but if anyone has the thick skin and the skills to join Legacy, it'd be Patriot. He's the Captain America of a new generation!"
But, if Cody Rhodes were to face a Marvel Universe character in a wrestling match, it'd be a much different opponent. "I'll take Black Panther in a standard steel cage match in Wakanda," revealed Rhodes.
Before heading off for his next WWE event, Rhodes made sure to leave fans with recommendations for summer reading. "If I was a teen or tween, I'd probably love to check out ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN or some of the older stuff, like the ESSENTIAL collections. I really recommend any X-Men stories by Jim Lee too. Right now there's everything you could want, but the old stuff is what made me a fan and brought me back. I found a compilation of those issues and what was old became new for me."
"There's nothing nerdy about going out and picking up a book and reading. It's good for you and opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Even better, make sure it's a book with Archangel and Omega Red!"
Learn more about the SummerSlam Reading Jam, see the list of SummerSlam Reading Jam participating libraries and read more about Cody Rhodes on WWE.com. Remember to catch him every Monday on Monday Night Raw!
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