Review – The Legend of La Mariposa: The Climb and Other Stories GN

Written and Illustrated by: James Lawrence
Release Date: Funding on Kickstarter from the 1st of June 2021 (CLICK HERE).

Back in 2019, I was fortunate enough to be able to take a look at The Legend of La Mariposa: The Demon Gauntlet, “a love letter to the colourful, over-the-top world of wrestling and the episodic excitement of Saturday morning cartoons” from Leeds-based cartoonist James Lawrence.

Today sees the launch of a Kickstarter for The Legend of La Mariposa: The Climb and Other Stories, a collection of brand new stories featuring everyone’s favourite rookie Luchador as she battles monsters, helps those in need and generally tries to build her legend.

This 124 page full-colour graphic novel features three main stories and a bunch of shorter, one-off tales and guest artist pinups. And right from the get-go, it was clear I’d forgotten quite how much I’d missed this colourful character and the world she inhabits.

The first story, ‘The Climb’, sees La Mariposa climbing a treacherous mesa to reclaim an object of value for a rich businessman to help raise funds to build a well for the local orphanage.  The second, ‘Night of the Chupacolossus’ features our heroine helping some goat farmers deal with the monster which is decimating their flock; and the final story, ‘The Grip of the Gruesome Grappler’, shifts the focus to the famed luchador super-team the The Sons of Justice as they tackle a ghostly graveyard threat.

It’s all an amazing amount of fun, with a blend of snappy banter, over-the-top action and bright colours that will appeal to younger and older readers alike.  It’s also worth pointing out that the actual wrestling (and indeed the wrestling references) are dialed back quite a bit here from The Demon Gauntlet, making this book possibly a lot more accessible for non grapping fans.  Also, while there are a few references to the events of The Demon Gauntlet, this can all be read in complete isolation – although I’d still strongly recommend picking up the original volume if you like what you see here.

Lawrence clearly has a real knack for eye-catching character design and visual comedy, and my previous comments about this feeling like a printed version of a Saturday morning cartoon definitely apply again here.  Mariposa is lively, sassy, and throws a mean superkick, and the wildly colourful cast of characters she encounters along the way here will ensure that almost every reader will have their own favourite.

The artwork throughout is of the same high standard as the first volume; big and bold and packed with booming sound effects and gloriously bone-crunching combat.  Seriously, there’s one superkick based splash page that I’d love to be able to print out and hang on my wall, that’s how cool it is. I believe these stories were originally printed in black and white, but Lawrence wisely gives them the full-colour treatment here, adding even more energy to Mariposa’s exploits.

Honestly, I love this. While a lot of all-ages comics can end up trying to be a little too knowing and tongue in cheek, The Legend of La Mariposa lands right in the sweet spot, delivering a sense of humour and energy that I feel will genuinely appeal to all ages.  Obviously  your individual mileage may vary, but I’d highly recommend checking this out, if only to experience the sheer undiluted joy that is ‘Black Doris’.  You can thank me later.

The Legend of La Mariposa: The Climb and Other Stories is available on Kickstarter until the 1st of July 2021, and backer tiers include digital and printed copies of the book, copies of The Demon Gauntlet, stickers, patches, enamel pins and more!

The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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