Wednesday, December 06, 2017

A Wonderful Return

Love and Rockets Vol. 4 #1-3 (Fantagraphics, October 2016-July 2017, $4.99)
There have been three previous volumes of Love and Rockets. The original series began in 1982 and ran for 50 issues. The second volume included 20 issues over six years, and for the last eight years, there's been an annual graphic novel. This new series returns to the original magazine format and feels like reading a long-lost friend.

Jaime Hernandez's "I Come from Above to Avoid a Double Chin" (six pages) jumps right back in with Maggie and Hopey at a 40 Thieves/Ape Sex show. His two-page "Zine Fest" is a wonderful, brief look at tabling at a small zine show.

Gilbert contributes a 16-page Fritz story focusing on Rosalba "Fritz" Martinez, an actress who's inspired no fewer than five lookalikes who work in pornography. The story shimmies between the past and the present, which gets a little confusing. ("What does it mean when we're surrounded by thicker lines?" "Indicates flashback.")

Jaime also offers an eight-page science-fiction superhero story in which Anima and Lumina meet Katak. The issue ends with a letter column. What a wonderful return for the comic. It's nice to see some old friends again, and there's enough new—and new potential—here that Love and Rockets is sure to be a welcome ongoing read.

#2: Man, it's good to be home.This issue, published in March 2017, includes several Fritz stories featuring the titular character and her two surrogate daughters, totaling 16 pages. The first story opens with the text "Fritz haters will just have to be patient," and the second segment (of four pages) includes the text "More for the haters." Do people really not like this storyline?  I'm curious how the reunited surrogates will fit into Fritz's family and life. My only complaint is the focus on porn and the prevalence of mobile phones and social media in the story. I just don't find it interesting or a useful narrative device.

Maggie and Hopey return, but the other two pieces from Jaime really shine. "Forest Spirits" includes characters from last issue's "Zine Fest" story and is oddly fantastic—seems realistic and real world but then goes a little magic sideways. Some of the artwork in this story is pure cartoon beauty. Finally, Anima and Lumina return for more straight-forward sf silliness. Those hellmets are dangerous! The lettercol has already grown to two pages.

#3: This issue continues the solid run established by the first two issues. I am really enjoying the mix of stories in each issue, the way the sequencing of Jaime and Gilbert's work helps pace and balance the comic overall, and the narrative progression of the four storylines already underway. Each issue is like a well-planned meal, much like an issue of Rima the Jungle Girl.

This is also the most Los Angeles issue, which was fun. Del's Island of Lost Souls in Hoppers, Huerta, draws a young Maggie, who is rescued by Izzy. The Anima story is lyrical but doesn't end well. ("I was evil long before the hellmet made me evil.")

The pieces by Gilbert are amazing. He concentrates on several "episodes" of The Adventures of Professor Enigma and Missy, an sf TV show, to more clearly tie together the multiple actresses in the story who played his sidekick over time. ("I just had the most enjoyable lunch with Professor Quatermass and the Doctor!")

The Maggie and Hopey of the ever-lovin' now have a fallout walking down the street after hanging out with everyone but Penny Century at Tlaquepaque in Hoppers. What the heck is up with Eugene? Jaime also incorporated the use of the mobile phone in his Maggie and Hopey story in this issue. Mobile phones make for less interesting people, places, and TV shows—and comics. I know they're ubiquitous, but they detract and distract from comics storytelling. We don't need them in comics.

Availability: There are many, many Love and Rockets collections available. These new issues have yet to be reprinted. We recommend The Love and Rockets Companion: 30 Years (and Counting)Music for Mechanics, and Fritz After Dark: The Love And Rockets Library Vol. 14.

No comments: