JUST JOSHING: Rise of the White Phoenix Volume 1

I love pro wrestling. Pro wrestling and comic books are kind of like brothers from different mothers. Larger than life characters, good and evil battling it out, and most of all, tights. At its best, pro wrestling is that amazing balance between art and sport. It is theater and can inspire people to feel emotions about characters. They are pop culture icons (Thinkin’, thinkin’) and have inspired generations.

In Mexico, there is a style of pro wrestling called Lucha Libre, in which the theatre of wrestling is amplified. Legends like Mil Mascaras and Rey Mysterio and Art Barr have given wrestling a degree of pride that is only seen otherwise in Japan. It is this inspiration that makes Rise of the White Phoenix amazing.

The Book

Rise of the White Phoenix Volume 1
Created, Written and Illustrated by: Lisa Larose

Rise of the White Phoenix is a tale about a girl named Luisa who wants to become a luchadora, trying to become like her idol Rey Ultimo. Her father wants her to have nothing to do with it, thinking that the sport is not for girls. Luisa sneaks into a matchup between Rey Ultimo and Viper. Seeing her in the crowd, Ultimo is distracted long enough for Viper to capitalize. Unbeknownst to Luisa, her father is Rey Ultimo. He wants what is best for his daughter, and is unsure at this point whether or not he is doing the right thing. The conversation he had with Viper in the locker is an interesting one as he gets a perspective and reality check he needs.

Years pass, and Luisa’s dreams have only amplified as she is training to become the luchadora she imagined. Unfortunately, Lucha has fallen under the control of some shady characters. When her father refuses to lose the match to Huracan Picante, he gets ambushed by the promoter and some nefarious luchas. Luisa witnesses this and watches as the promoter unmasks her hero, who turns out to be her dad.

This may seem far fetched until you realize that the mask is very important in Mexico. Rey Mysterio, Mil Mascaras, and many other Mexican legends wear their mask in public to this day. No one sees their face. It’s a big part of the culture, and this is a nice nuance in this story. Seeing her hero unmask, Luisa rushes to her father’s aid, only for both of them to be overwhelmed and her father hospitalized. There, Luisa vows to get the mask of Rey Ultimo back and become the luchadora she dreamed.

This is a simple story and well told. Much like the best pro wrestling stories, the stakes are clear, we know who the good guys and bad guys are, and we know why they are going to fight. In short, you care about this right away. What makes this story better are the layers in it. This is not just a story about pro wrestling, but rather a coming of age story about Luisa. She is confronting her hero, who turns out to be her father, and finding out that heroes are not always who think they are. That’s one possible theme to explore. Another I’m curious about is whether or not Rey Ultimo is going to train her and help going forward, or will he try and stop her? There is some serious potential for some incredible family drama. This is the kind of hero’s journey that I’m always a fan of, for the most heroic qualities have nothing to do about the circumstances they find themselves, but where they go from here. Larose can take this story a number of different ways and tell some amazing tales in the process.

And it goes without saying that this book is well drawn. There are beautiful illustrations throughout the book. Each setting is unique and colored to fit a great psychology, whether it’s the arena or the back alley in which Ultimo is jumped. Each place has character to it. And each character is distinct. Rey Ultimo and Huracan Picante. Although he’s not a part of the story much, I really dug Picante’s design. Each character has their own look and style to them and it’s been well thought out. Larose is a gifted illustrator and her comic looks incredible.

You can keep following the story at https://www.luchacomic.com. I really think this book is an excellent start to something really incredible and I cannot recommend this enough. I can’t wait for volume two.

The Business

Lots of business, as usual, this week. I appeared on two shows last weekend. Spilling Ink I discussed my whole philosophy to this whole time here and how I’ve been rewarded so far. It’s an incredible ride into my thought process and maybe, just maybe, it’ll help you.

I started a newsletter in which I give away books and other things and try to just inspire. I did a DIY on gardening last week. This week I’m writing about how one person inspired me to be better. If you want to sign up for the newsletter, click here. I’ll send you something cool.

My first novel is coming out quite soon. I was hoping to have the final copy so I can have the order form. If you’d like to help me, could you please check it out?

This week I’ll be reading from my novel on the creatives in quarantine open mic. Come out to see me read a little snippet from my current work in progress as well.

This week’s podcast features Filipe F. Thomaz who did a killer job with his game Into A Dream.

Wow. I’m busier than I thought. That’s it for this week. Next time, I’ll be reading a little bit from another book graciously given to me online. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you guys next time. Stay inspired and stay joyful.

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