The La Mariposa books may be the most joyful comics being published today. James Lawrence’s amiable hossette is a powerhouse in the ring and a heroic force everywhere in her life. Mariposa literally wanders the Earth, meets people and has adventures. Jules from Pulp Fiction would be very proud. And, odds are, suplexed in pretty short order.
This third volume picks up a plot thread from previous volume The Climb but functions neatly in its own right. It’s also, by Lawrence’s own cheerful admission, an attempt to get an actual wrestling match in a (mostly) normal wrestling ring in the series. It’s also massive, burly fun.
Vulcan, a legendary wrestler has returned and issued a challenge. Given that he’s a wrestling god, this challenge is basically him walking in a straight line through the lives of multiple other wrestlers and daring them to either leave the insult unanswered or buy into a battle royale against Vulcan and all the other people he’s picked a fight with. The competitors are a perfect snapshot of why Lawrence is such a great creator, each of them uniquely designed and with some glorious names. My favourites are luchador artist Dada Abstracto, trios team Los Hermanos Carapasos (Armadillos, obviously) and Teutonic tag team Sturm and Drang.
But the heart of the book, the main event if you will, is Mariposa and her friendship with King Gila. King is a mostly retired luchador with a family, a good life and a very bruised ego. He’s invited, Mariposa buys in to help him and the way their friendship rises to the surface over the course of the bout is so sweet. It’s doubly so because Lawrence knows how to put a good, Puroresu wrestling match together and the flow of the moves becomes the flow of the panels and the pages.
See? The book has this gleeful combination of massive moves, crunching fights and heart and you leave it with a goofy smile to match Mariposa’s own. Brawny, badass, clever comic storytelling that loves its subject matter but loves its characters more. All the La Mariposa books are fun. This is the best one yet.