Review: The Legend of La Mariposa: The Demon Gauntlet (James Lawrence Comics)

We’ve been fans of James Lawrence’s awesome luchador inspired webcomic, but with it now collected into one glorious print edition, entitled The Legend of La Mariposa: The Demon Gauntlet, we really get the chance to experience the full force of the pint sized pugilist and her quest to find the masks of four demonic warriors!

Publisher: James Lawrence
Writer: James Lawrence
Artist: James Lawrence
Price: Currently funding on Kickstarter

La Mariposa is a luchador (or masked Mexican wrestler) and she wants to join up with the legendary group of heroes known as the Sons Of Justice. The sons are a gang of powerful luchadors who are more like superheroes than wrestlers and they fight the good fight in and around their home town. As part of an initiation test the Sons send La Mariposa on a mission to defeat four demonic luchadors and claim their masks. But can the idealistic and fan obsessed La Mariposa defeat the demons or will she be a victim of the Son’s dangerous hazing.

Although it has a wrestling theme at its heart, (James initially based the idea for the book on the 1960s Santo movies which saw the masked man take all kind of villains and monsters) yet The Legend of La Mariposa feels much more contemporary than this. It’s more like a superhero comic combined with a Saturday morning cartoon, mixed with dash of Manga and a hint of a classic beat em up video game. In another words it’s an adrenaline rush of action and mayhem!

As La Mariposa’s quest takes her from villain to villain she has to outwit them and beat them in combat in order to gain their masks. While Lawrence keeps a wrestling core to the story, (i.e. the matches all take place in some vague kind of rings and feature wrestling holds and moves), they are much more fantastical and larger than life even than you would expect, even in the WWE! For example she battles the shark like Mako Malvado underwater or the bat like Murcielago at the top of an Incan temple. All of which makes for a really exciting and high energy read, that is packed full of originality and over the top action fun.

With the bright and colourful masks and outlandish costumes of Lucha Libra at its centre, The Legend of La Mariposa is a gorgeous read and Lawrence is clearly revelling the world he has created. The pages are packed with detail and every inch if packed full of personality and character, it really is something very special to look. The character design is also exceptional, from the various demon luchadors (who range from a shark to a bat to a devilish Minotaur) through to the fantastic Son’s of Justice who perfectly balance vintage luchadores with silver and bronze age superheroes.

La Mariposa is also an inspired lead character. Her hair and mask feel integrated into her persona like all the best heroes, while her slightly stocky/pear shaped figure makes her feel like something much more interesting than your usual stick thin, big boobed superhero females. She is a fantastically aspirational character for young girls to aspire to, while not being too girly to put off young boys and we love that. She looks more than ready for a fight, and at no point does it feel like she is anything other than a deserving winner in her bouts!

In fact we would go so far as to say, La Mariposa is a perfect all ages comic and would be ideal for a pre teen and early teen audience who love action and excitement and over the top characters. It has the energetic visuals and smart style that would feel right in at the Phoenix and has that smartness to it that we love in books like Dungeon fun or the Etherington brothers creations. And in terms of production values it feels like it should be being released by a fully fledged publishers – so BHP Comics, or IDW or Boom, please pay attention as this is a winner!

While the story of la mariposa worked well as a webcomic this new collected edition, where you can read the whole story in one arc, makes a great read into a near perfect experience. Packed full of personality, fantastically fun and original characters and sparkling and frequently hilarious dialogue (not to mention a few genuinely emotional comments which is always the sign of a really well written and conceived character) we cannot say enough nice things about this book. This is up there with Glorious Wrestling Alliance and Box Brown’s Andre The Giant as one of our all time favourite wrestling comics, and is more than deserving of main event status! A champion read!