Love and Rockets #4 opens with Jaime and 100 Rooms, a Locas story. The first page is a recap, sort of, of the previous Mechanics and Locas stories. It’s an introduction from Isabel Ortiz Ruebens, who appears to be a nun. She’s not Izzy (as in Maggie and Hopey’s friend) but maybe she’s the author from a few of Jaime’s stories in #1.
It doesn’t really matter because after the nice intro page, Jaime just drops the narration and goes into the story.
This issue ends up being rather distinct because both Jaime and Beto are going to be doing amazing work. 100 Rooms is a twenty-six page epic. It also doesn’t have any jokes about Maggie being dumb, which is nice. Instead, it’s sort of a Maggie grows or at least Maggie realizes how she wants to grow story.
Jaime opens it with a visit to Tía Vicki, who he has been mentioning maybe since issue one. Vicki. The wrestler who cheated to beat Rena Titañon. Vicki used the ropes. But visiting Tía Vicki isn’t the point. Maggie’s just looking for money. Because she desperately wants some boots. She drags Hopey around town trying to find someone to loan it to her. They come across Penny Century, who has a plan.
That plan lands the girls–Maggie, Hopey, Penny, and Izzy–in billionaire H.R. Costigan’s mansion. In that mansion, lots happens. Like Maggie getting lost and kidnapped. And then there’s a party. And a supervillain fight. And Rand Race.
100 Rooms has five parts, not including the one page intro. First part is all about Vicki and the boots with an appearance from Speedy. Speedy is Hopey’s cousin who Maggie thinks is hot. Part two is an intro to the mansion then Maggie finding dangerous romance. Part three is romance plus the girls bonding. Part four is the party setup. Part five is the rest of the party. Each first page of the “chapters” has a big establishing panel. Otherwise Jaime sticks to three rows of three panels. Sometimes he joins two of the panels. But mostly 100 Rooms is read across, down and back, across, down and back. There’s so much with the narrative flow too. The visual transitions. Jaime changes angles between panels to move the story along, but also move the characters in the scene. It’s breathtaking.
And probably should, experimentally, be cut up and read horizontally.
Once again Hopey gets a lot less to do than Maggie–but more, especially when Maggie’s missing–and Maggie gets this strange, but sexy subplot involving European royalty in exile. The party is where Jaime goes crazy with the action. Before he’s being deliberate but casual with the angle changes. The party is all about being full and action-packed, whether it’s in the establishing panels or the regular ones. Which isn’t to say Jaime doesn’t employ the angle changes to move the action and story along. He just adds to it.
It’s awesome. The best Locas so far.
Next is Beto’s Twitch City. It’s cyberpunk, with noir narration. Emico is the lead. She’s a sixteen year-old cop in New Hiroshima (in South Oregon). It’s a five page story. It covers Emico at work then at home. It’s rather depressing. Beto does a great job with it.
Then is another Music for Monsters (so the issue has three Beto stories and two Jaime). Inez is babysitting a monster’s egg. For four fifty an hour. The egg is at sea, so Inez is fighting off sea monsters. Bang parachutes in to hang out with her. It’s another short one–four pages this time–but Beto manages to get in some drama over a messed up Errata Stigmata comic. The first issue of Love and Rockets had an Errata Stigmata story.
And, of course, there’s a monster they need to fight.
Jaime then has Out O’ Space set in a “Jetsons” future with the lead–a teenage girl named Rocky–hanging out on an asteroid belt with her robot, Fumble. She’s lost, cutting school, and decides to claim her own planet. Unfortunately a rock creature named Patrick has crash-landed on the other side of Rocky’s planet. A turf war ensues. It’s a fun strip with some great art.
And, then, finally, it’s time for Palomar and Heartbreak Soup Part Two. A twenty-one page continuation of the previous issue’s story. Beto takes the first two pages to recap everything in that story. The principals of the story change a little. Gato, who had a lot to do last issue has very little to do in this story. Manuel and Pipo, having made repeat visits to Soledad’s house while he’s out of town, both get a lot. Manuel because he’s breaking Pipo’s heart and Pipo because her heart’s being broken. At the same time Beto is moving along the Luba vs. Chelo storyline.
The tween boys figure in a little, mostly serving to inadvisably gossip within other people’s earshot. Hercalio figures in more than a lot of characters–Carmen, for instance–but it’s mostly just Manuel and Pipo. Or about Manuel and Pipo.
Beto mixes styles–Pipo and her siblings versus Manuel on the make–or pretty much any of the exterior scenes. Palomar is simultaneously empty but teeming. The story takes a lot of unexpected turns, including in the to the two-page epilogue. There’s also a lot of dialogue. Pipo makes the titular Heartbreak Soup for herself and Tipin’ Tipin’ and tells him all about their lives in Palomar. He’s still around because, in the most minor subplot, Carmen is trying to rehabilitate him.
It’s a sad, aching story. And rather beautiful. And better than the first part.
Love and Rockets #4 is sixty-four pages of phenomenal comics. Jaime and Beto both hit highs with their exquisite storytelling.