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Love and Rockets: New Stories (Vol. 3) (Love and Rockets) Paperback – October 4, 2010
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*Starred Review* Three years into Love and Rockets’ format switch from several-times-yearly comic book to annual trade paperback, the Hernandez brothers have finally hit their stride with a collection that is every bit as satisfying as the peak years of the long-running series. Gilbert opens with an uncharacteristic sci-fi saga that casts his sometimes-actress character Fritz as a sensual alien half-beast, followed by a sequel of sorts in which a fledgling actress from last year’s Love and Rockets volume prepares to star in a remake of the tale. Both stories benefit from Gilbert’s boldly confident graphics. But longtime fans will respond most strongly to Jaime’s linked trio of stories featuring his beloved “Locas” characters, all limned in his elegantly economical style. First we get a brief update on the status of his long-suffering heroine Maggie Chascarrillo, followed by a lengthy, revealing flashback to the childhood days of Maggie and her siblings. Then, back in the present, Maggie goes on an achingly poignant date with former lover Ray Dominguez. A quarter-century after Love and Rockets first rocked the alt-comics world, both brothers remarkably remain at the top of their game. --Gordon Flagg
“Starred Review. [This] collection… is every bit as satisfying as the peak years of the long-running series.… A quarter-century after Love and Rockets first rocked the alt-comics world, both brothers remarkably remain at the top of their game.”
“[T]he most recent installment in the annual series features a couple of moments that are as technically brilliant and as profoundly moving as anything the series has seen in the past.”
- Bob Temuka, The Tearoom of Despair
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Then came Vol. 3 of L&R: New Stories. Gilbert's work in here is interesting, but like much of the other recent L&R work, doesn't really grab me much. (I've loved a lot of his stuff in the past, though!)
But Jaime's work, including "Browntown" -- wow. When I finished the volume, I felt as if I'd been kicked in the gut. I immediately reread it, picking up details that I had missed earlier. And the impact, though not as surprising, was still there in the second read. This is the first time I've had this sort of emotional response from L&R in quite a few years now.
I don't want to give many details, because I think the story benefits from knowing very little going in, though knowing the background of Maggie, Ray, etc. will help a lot. Jaime's stories in this issue include current day stuff with Maggie, Ray, and Reno, along with a 1970s story of young Maggie and her family during the years they moved away from Huerta to live with her dad, and a shattering family secret.
I keep wanting to say more, but I'm afraid it would spoil it. If you are a Love and Rockets fan who has recently fallen away, get this. If you are unfamiliar with L&R, I'm not sure this is the place to start, but Jaime's story (there are three of them, but basically it's just one story with multiple chapters) can probably stand alone even without the previous knowledge of Maggie's background. That knowledge does make it richer, however.
Both guys are working as much "on their own terms" as ever here, and fans of each will probably be satisfied (if somewhat weirded out). I personally would have liked more of a contrast in tone between the stories; because this volume is so grim, it's probably not one I'll revisit often. Just one longtime reader's opinion; your mileage may vary... :)
The book is made up of short stories. There were some sci-fi stories involving alien/human hybrids that bordered on pornographic, another story involving another hugely breasted B-movie actress, and another featuring the Hernandez brothers' favourite, Maggie the Mechanic, as she starts dating an old friend.
This date story turns out to be the final part of a larger story that closes the book. Going back to her childhood, we get a harrowing story of Maggie and her family as their parents go through divorce and Maggie's brother endures a painful experience involving an older boy.
While I enjoyed the stories, they didn't involve me enough to want to seek out other books in the "Love and Rockets" series. The artwork is great and the stories definitely different and unique in the indie field, but they're either too out there and confusing (the sci-fi stuff) or disturbing to want to revisit anytime soon.