Let me warn you right now, I believe Luchadores are the pinnacle of entertainment spectacle. One part KISS, one part Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, one part superhero, and one part over the top melodrama. Add that all together and you get 110% awesome! Seriously, you’re reading words from a person that has seen every Santo movie, ever. So, I’m not too proud to admit that a little squeal exited my lips when I saw Strongman sitting on the “New This Week” isle at Cosmic Monkey Comics. I flipped over the book and read the tease: 1964 – 1972. The Magnificiant Years. Tigre, the masked wrestler / vigilante crime-fighter / movie star is the toast of all Mexico. With his companions Bujo and Conejo at his side, the world belongs to the Tiger in the white mask. Sold! Didn’t even finish the rest of the tease. I was buying this book.
And here is why you should as well…
Um, because it is friggen awesome! I mean, he punches through walls, drives a big ass hawg, and is – oh yeah – friggen awesome! Fine, I’ll give you “real” reasons for running out and purchasing Strongman.
Strongman is the classic tale of lost glory and the path to redemption. Like so many hero stories, our Tigre is burned out. Tigre is haunted by a past he cannot forget, no matter how many bottles of booze he attempts to lose himself within. A one time national hero, Tigre fought in the ring for entertainment and outside the ring for justice…when he wasn’t shooting epic supernatural films. It is clear everyone involved has a love for Lucha Libre lore and the films of Santo. (Even going so far as to mention the legendary character). Like all classic hero tales, the past returns in the flesh and forces the hero to make a choice. For Tigre, the choice is simple. Continue to take falls and humiliation from lesser wrestlers for tequila money, or awaken the Tiger that sleeps within. Reluctant at first, Tigre knows he cannot turn his back on honor and legacy. His people cry out for justice and El Tigre will answer one more time.
So begins an adventure that will entertain and maybe even shock. Strongman is a very fun read. No deeper meaning within the quick-paced 80 pages beyond what is promised on the back cover. Strongman is a tale of redemption and adventure. Indeed, there were moments when I felt I was reading a “nicer” version of Frank Miller’s Sin City story The Hard Goodbye. Tigre is a man that doesn’t quite fit in this modern era. To him there is right and there is wrong, no hint of gray. You help old ladies across the street, you respect your Mamá y Papá, and you sure as hell don’t make money off organ harvesting! Such is the world of Strongman. How does it all end for this classic hero? Read and learn friends. The art is simple black and white, with classic dot shading and inking. In that way, the book even feels like a comic from the glory days of the Luchador. There were a few times where it felt like Allen Gladfelter’s art was a bit rushed. However, that is a minor complaint. Most of the art is a fantastic mix of western character design with a nice dose of Manga action. Like many books within the SLG Publishing line, Strongman has a journal-sized design. Perfect for stuffing into your back pocket and taking out when you need a good read.
¡Viva Lucha Libre!