By Van Jensen, Jose Pimienta and Matthew Petz
Van Jensen has recently gained a lot more attention through his work for DC Comics properties such as Green Lantern Corps and The Flash as well as Pinocchio Vampire Slayer. However, none of those properties quite speak to the direction and subject matter of his new work, The Leg: the Remarkable Reappearance of Santa Anna’s Disembodied Limb. The story is as unique as the title would suggest, and it presented to readers through the art of Jose Pimienta with colors and letters by Matthew Petz. The Leg is quite the unconventional story, with pieces of history blended with magic and mythology. While it is not easy to sum up, there is no questioning how unique this story is. Paired with absolutely gorgeous art work, The Leg deserves attention.
Early on in the story readers are introduced to some of the mythological elements of the Mexican culture and its history. Readers learn of the country’s troubled past, its evils and how it was saved by the great eagle. An old man on the outskirts of civilization shares the story with a boot he has restored before he is visited by a group of miscreants who leave the man for dead. The first chapter showcases some of the places the story will take its audience, including the fantastical and the cold harsh reality. Jensen’s ability to blend the different story styles together is rather impressive and makes for interesting thematic undertones over the course of the tale. As the world leaves the old man behind, his spirit sets the boot in motion. Not just any old shoe, the boot is the famous leg of Mexico’s Santa Anna which received its own funeral and burial before being dug up by the people that felt betrayed by their leaders many problematic acts.
Not long after the story leaves the man and his boot does it introduce readers to its other protagonist, a small girl named Ana. Ana was uprooted by the American Government in the time of the Great Depression and sent back to Mexico. Learning that she is distant relative to Santa Anna, for whom she was named, the girl sets out to Mexico City to make her claim to be adopted as royalty by the country. The boot, on a similar course, looks to avenge the old man by trailing the men responsible for his death as they make their way to the capital. As the two worlds collide, readers are taken on a very unlikely adventure. The story twists and turns, and involves a multitude of different pieces of other genres. There is a very strong cultural and mythological layer that continues to follow the leads through their adventures. As they move towards the city, the tale is narrated and watched over by the great eagle. The characters also run into mystical figures that are sometimes religious, sometimes demonic beings.
One of the fascinating elements to the way that Jensen crafts this story is its balance between the cold reality as presented through the story’s historical aspects and its adult characters. When the tale follows the band of murderers, it shifts to a blunt and unsettling tone. The men are ruthless and though there is never a moment that is grotesque, their actions are ugly. Jensen handles these scenes incredibly well. Juxtaposed to these threads are the adventures of Ana and the leg. Ana’s perspective is filled with hopes and dreams and magic and good will. She is written so well and her character captures the perspective of a child’s honesty. Though the stories adventure is very engaging, it is this thematic battle that is most intriguing. This is never more apparent as to when Ana speaks with a man on the train about her intentions. As she explains her aim to become the princess of Mexico, the man remarks on the odd and misguided stories she has been fed about what it means to be royalty. The fairy tales of a child’s imagination are brought up against the true meaning of what it means to be part of a countries monarchy, to rule a people and to have them protest.
Throughout the story of The Leg, the ideology of childhood is paired with the darker parts of the adult world. The adventures of Ana and the leg are fun, and scary and incredibly rich. Jensen has crafted an intricate world that balances so many pieces so well. To complement this tale, Jose Pimienta and Matthew Petz produce absolutely stunning art. Pimienta’s penciling has so much character that even the most grounded pieces of the story have great energy. Over the course of the story, the imaginative places and characters that the pair comes upon are so well developed. Pimienta has crafted an unlikely fantasy world with some very memorable places and beings. All the while, Petz’s choices for coloring provide a great sense of tone. Petz tends to utilize a single hue and variations of that color, mixed with blacks and whites. Moving from yellow to pink to green, the story rarely utilizes a mix of different colors and yet never suffers from this approach. Instead, the hues distinguish the chapters and characters. When Petz does combine two together, it creates a larger impact.
The Leg may be one of the more imaginative and unique stories in recent memory. Jensen’s craft is never more evident than it is here, as he impressively captures so many different elements and voices so naturally. Paired with stunning art by Pimienta and Petz, The Leg is destined to be a story remembered and passed around for a long time. This is one people need to read.
Official Press Release:
THE LEG: A Graphic Novel With a Kick
Comic books have long been home to oddball protagonists, but none has ever been stranger than this one! THE LEG is a new graphic novel starring the disembodied, sentient leg of Mexican President Santa Anna. (Yes, you read that right.)
THE LEG: Or, the Remarkable Return of the Disembodied Limb of Santa Anna was created by writer Van Jensen (Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer; Green Lantern Corps; and The Flash) and acclaimed artist Jose Pimienta (A Friendly Game). The 180-page, full-color graphic novel takes place in 1938 Mexico, a century after Santa Anna lost his left leg in battle against French invaders. Now, mysteriously, the Leg has returned, and it discovers a new threat against its beloved country. As the Leg ventures across Mexico, it will encounter the strangest elements of Mexican folklore and history, and it will come face to face with its own turbulent legacy. A pastiche of Robert Rodriguez’ Mexico trilogy and the surrealist paintings of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, THE LEG is an intensely original spin on the Spaghetti Western genre.