“La Mano del Destino” has everything: lucha libre, comic book Silver Age-storytelling, 1960s aesthetics, beautiful detailed artwork, and a story that will have you hooked from beginning to end. When you start reading, you won’t put it down until it’s over, and be prepared to spend some time admiring the beautiful work by Chicano artist J. Gonzo. This is the lucha libre comic book you did not know you were waiting for.
Who is La Mano del Destino? He is a wrestler formerly known as Ernesto el General, who after refusing to throw a wrestling match, he was betrayed by his friends, the promoter, and then unmasked. After this incident, a mysterious promoter appeared who swore he would help him get his title and dignity back. This is when he became La Mano del Destino, the translation being Destiny’s Hand, and he is on his quest to get revenge by beating every rudo (heel) until getting to the promoter that betrayed him and getting back everything he lost.
But how far is La Mano willing to go to get his revenge? Who is this mysterious promoter that gave him his new identity and why is he invested in this? These are questions that are answered throughout this six-issue comic book. This does not only have ass-kicking lucha libre action, but also touches the themes of destiny, if you are supposed to follow what you are meant to do, and if you are shaped by your past.
What’s most amazing is the love of Mexico throughout the series. J. Gonzo was very detailed with the world-building of this alternate 1960s where lucha libre is the main focus of life. The clothes, masks, buildings, art style, everything is done with a purpose and to represent a time and place. This is not the dreary sepia tone stereotypical Hollywood Mexican locales, these have a lot of color, action, shapes, all really cool and have a real-life reference. This series celebrates where the story is based, the history of Mexico, and there are references in the issues about where Gonzo might have gotten the ideas from. This has elements of Mexican culture all over it. It is festive, beautiful, and a pure joy to read.
Even with the lucha libre and love for its culture, this is an old school superhero comic book at its heart. La Mano del Destino is the classic good guy superhero who is loved by the people and is righting all the wrongs. He has a sidekick as a manager. On the other side, we have the evil promoter and his gang of heel wrestlers that need to be taken down. The style is based on the Silver Age of comic books, from the art style, storyline progression, up to the way the characters speak. Even the colors will bring to mind old-school comic books.
All of this creates a mix and a really unique product that you did not know you wanted to read. From the style, story, celebration of Mexico and Lucha Libre, celebration of the comic books of the 1960s, all of it works like a charm.
La Mano del Destino is the hero that we need in these dreary times. Even pro wrestling today needs a couple of Mano del Destino to right the wrongs of the worst aspects of the business we love. After all, he is here to represent us and make us proud.
“La Mano del Destino” is a gem of a comic book that the world threw at me. I first heard about it on a chat, back when the artist J. Gonzo had a Kickstarter for it. I made my pledge, I got my PDF copy, and I fell in love instantly, so this review is based on the Kickstarter copy. This May you will be able to read it for yourself when it’s released for everybody. Don’t miss it and check out the cool artwork that was born from this.