REVIEW: ‘La Mano Del Destino’

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La Mano Del Destino

La Mano Del Destino is published by Image Comics under the Top Cow imprint with writing and art by J.Gonzo. He was once known as Ernesto el General. He was a champion of Lucha Libre. But when the sports corrupt controller Jefe requests that he throw a fight, he refused. Jefe saw to it that he would lose the match anyway. He lost his title, his glory, and worst of all, they took his mask. Now though, thanks to the help of a mysterious benefactor, he has been granted the tools necessary to get back what was taken from him, as he returns to the ring as La Mano Del Destino!

As I approached La Mano Del Destino I did so with no real knowledge of Lucha Libre. Aside from obvious surface-level comparisons, one can make to American pro wrestling, this book presented a brave new world for me. And having now read Gonzo’s work, I am far more curious about that world than I ever thought it would be. Though to be fair, I have no way of knowing how much of the culture, attitude, and personality that permeates the sport in this story is based in reality, and how much is dramatic romanticization.

As I mentioned in my opening, La Mano Del Destino is a story about a Luchadore on a comeback trail. Not only is he making a comeback, but Gonzo imbues his hero with Captain America levels of honor, integrity, and determination. Beyond even the protagonist’s journey of redemption, the story feels like the battle is for far more than that. It is a battle for something sacred. It is to preserve a piece of a culture that the corrupt lead by Jefe looks to exploit, twist and pervert to their selfish ends. And even though it is a piece of a culture I know nothing about, Gonzo makes me care far more than I would’ve thought possible. This is largely due to the personal passion for the sport the creator constantly breathes into his protagonist.

While the main protagonist’s quest is the backbone that supports La Mano Del Destino’s narrative, I was further surprised to see how much the book opens up in its second half to expand its focus onto side character that had felt rather one dimensional till that point. This expanded look at the larger cast put even more gravitas into the final confrontations of the story. As characters are revealed to have motives beyond just whether of not La Mano Del Destino is successful in his quest for redemption.

Just as the story delivers a powerful narrative, so too does the art deliver a strong setting. With the visual design planted firmly in the 60 – 70 era of clothing and style, the art captures the look of this era both in the characters and settings, as well as the art style itself. There’s an intentional roughness to the art that makes me think of being in a small theater as I watch an exceptionally well-done B movie.

Building further upon the uniqueness of the art presented here is the book’s color scheme. Dominated by greens, yellows, and purples I can honestly say I’ve never seen a story colored like it. And to be honest, I don’t think it would work in most stories. But there is something about how these colors combine with both art style and setting that just feels right. I always find it both infuriating, as well as delightful when a creative can elicit responses from me that I cannot properly process. It is just a wild sensation. And La Mano Del Destino delivers that.

The lettering also helps augment the books setting. While little of the story is presented in Spanish, moments of expression are opened with the language’s upside-down punctuation. This helps emphasize that Spanish is being spoken, even though English words fill the bubbles.

When all is said and done LA Mano Del Destino delivers a gritty, emotional tale of redemption that fully embraces its themes, characters, and setting. I lost myself in this world and cannot imagine how anyone could’ve delivered it better than Gonzo does here.

La Mano Del Destino Is available now wherever comics are sold.

 

La Mano Del Destino
5

TL;DR

When all is said and done LA Mano Del Destino delivers a gritty, emotional tale of redemption that fully embraces its themes, characters, and setting. I lost myself in this world and cannot imagine how anyone could’ve delivered it better than Gonzo does here.