Thursday, 6 May 2021

The Mexican Art of Diving

This post is possible due to the generosity of long-time Art of Diving supporter Chris so a big "Thank You" to him.

Sensacional de Luchas (Sensational Fighting) was a series of 96-page, pocket-sized comics starring real-life Luchadores Enmascarados (Masked Wrestlers). The publishers produced a whole range of Sensacional de... titles including  ...Policías (Police), ...Barrio (Neighborhoods) , ...Traileros (Truck Drivers) ...Terror (Horror) and ...Sirvientas (Maids). I'm gutted that  haven't been able to find any examples of that last one!

Sensacional de Luchas #219 was published in January 1990 and featured the story Fishman en Busca del Galeón Perdido (Fishman in Search of the Lost Galleon).




The story opens with treasure-hunters Mark, Mara, Otto and Herman searching for the wreck of the pirate Spartacus' ship. Herman is stuck doing surface cover while the others dive in search of the wreck. They all eschew wetsuits and Mara has chosen a particularly skimpy bikini! (I'm assuming the readership was predominantly male).




It doesn't take them long to find the wreck...





Ignoring the buddy system, the three divers separate (naughty!) and soon Otto meets a grisly fate...






Mark finds Otto and is spooked...






Meanwhile, Mara searches a nearby grotto...






The treasure includes a sceptre bearing an inscription...





"Carlos II, the enchanted supreme King of Spain 1665."

It turns out that Spartacus had attacked a ship carrying the crown jewels...




Arriving back at the wreck, Mara notices that all the fish, not to mention her two comrades, have disappeared...




Meanwhile, on a nearby island, Fishman was "frolicking" and enjoying the water which revitalises him...




He finds himself caught in a strange current...




Back on the yacht, Herman is concerned that the divers will be running out of "oxygen"...









Mark finds Mara just as she runs out of oxygen... (Sorry, I mean air! Now they've got me doing it!)





Mark struggles to release Mara to no avail but, luckily for them, the "Son of the Sea" arrives on the scene...








Despite the death of Otto and the attack on Mara, the treasure-hunters are still determined to raise the treasure. The guardian turns out to be the pirate himself - Spartacus. In typical comic-book fashion, our hero finds himself battling the giant...






Despite having now lost Mark as well as Otto, Mara and Herman decide they can still get the treasure. Meanwhile, the fight continues...





Spartacus thinks he's won but the water is Fishman's friend...





Fishman gains the upper hand but then Mara and Herman arrive...







The masked wrestler saves Spartacus from Mara's harpoon but is unable to prevent Herman from getting him...




They tie Fishman to the mast, intending to return for him and find out how he can stay so long underwater...




Reports of Spartacus' demise prove to have been exaggerated and, although they escape with the treasure, the yacht runs into a storm and Herman and Mara are drowned. Spartacus retrieves the treasure and returns it to the grotto...



He's grateful to Fishman for his help and thinks that they might meet again one day.




The cover painting, signed "Garr", is by Rafael Gallur Rivas. He had previously been an interior artist but switched to doing covers. Although primarily working in Mexico he's credited with assisting Pablo Marcus on issue one of DC's Star Trek: The Modala Imperative.


Unfortunately I can't decipher the signature of the artist that drew the actual strip. If anyone has any ideas please let me know.



Fishman was the ring name of José Ángel Nájera Sánchez (1951-2017). He made his debut in 1969 and retired in 2000 after losing a fight and being unmasked. His impromptu ring debut, which came about when another wrestler failed to show up, was under the name Goliath Reyes. He lost the fight and carried on training before eventually returning to the ring as Titán. A comment that the eyes of his mask looked like those of a fish prompted him to create the identity of Fishman. His mask, originally in gold and black, was based on the shape of a Manta Ray wrapped around his face. He changed his outfit to green and yellow because the original colours were too close to those of one of the top wrestlers of the time. This led to him being nicknamed El Veneno Verde (The Green Poison). His brutal style led to him being cast as a Rudo -  a bad guy. 

He had a long career with various wrestling organisations and was sometimes involved in long-running storylines with other wrestlers. As was the custom, his real name only became known after his final defeat and unmasking. His first wife was a Luchadora who worked under the name Lola González. Three of his sons also became wrestlers: Black Fish (originally Fishman Jr.), El Hijo del Fishman (Son of Fishman) and El Único de Ciudad Juárez. He died after a heart attack in April 2017.






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