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Lucha Libre #1

Posted: Friday, September 28, 2007
By: Matthew J. Brady



Writer(s): Jerry Frissen, Ines Vargas
Artist(s): Bill, Witko, Tanquerelle

Publisher: Image Comics


In an attempt to bring European-style comics to American shores, Belgian writer Jerry Frissen dreamed up this album-format series from Image. It's a bit larger than a typical pamphlet-format comic book, and contains several stories and magazine-style articles, all based around the concept of Lucha Libre, masked Mexican wrestling. Frissen came up with a fun world, full of strange phenomena like werewolf street gangs, French vigilantes, dinosaurs roaming the streets of Los Angeles, and aliens stuck in traffic on the freeways.

The main story in this issue is about the Luchadores Five, a group of vigilantes who wear Mexican wrestling masks and fight crime. Well, that's what they're supposed to do anyway, but they spend this story getting in fights with other gangs and not really doing anything productive. It's fun to look at, with the nice, cute drawings by the singularly-named artist Bill, who uses a super-deformed, manga style to depict their exploits. While I liked certain aspects of the story, like the friendly yet antagonistic relationship between the members of the Luchadores Five, or their use of wrestling moves when brawling with their rivals, the story didn't really seem to gel for me. Frissen seems to be throwing as many crazy concepts as he can into the mix, and maybe he plans to do something with them, but right now they all seem to be window-dressing. The story is "to be continued", with the promise of a threat from a group of Tiki warriors led by a midget Elvis impersonator, so maybe it will get better in the future.

The backup stories consist of two one-pagers about Professor Furia, a washed-up wrestler who instructs students in Lucha Libre, but mostly just to subsidize his drinking, and a six-page series of tales of the Luchadoritos, a group of kids who plan to grow up to be wrestlers/vigilantes someday. The latter story is pretty cute, with each page working as its own comic-strip story; it wouldn't look out of place in the Sunday funnies. Both of these backup stories seem to have more of a European style of art, with rounded, big-headed, expressive characters. The stories are fun, but kind of slight; I certainly wouldn't mind reading more about the Luchadoritos.

Other content includes an article about the history of Lucha Libre (the sport, not the comic), character profiles, essays about the genesis of the series, a look at "art toys" of the characters, and faux covers of a fictional Lucha Libre comic book throughout the past forty years. It's a nice package, and a good value for the $5.99 cover price. I don't know if I liked it enough to pick it up regularly, but it will at least be worth a look.



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