Fantagraphics; 1986; $2.25; 36 pgs; available collected.
It’s a dark Love and Rockets. It’s also a light issue, but then it’ll get dark. It does go from dark to light once, but not enough to not make the issue real heavy.
Jaime starts with Locas. He starts it at the beach. Can’t get much brighter than the beach, even with Hopey and Izzy crashing and ruining the fun. Jaime plays it all for humor, even as it turns into Maggie on an impromptu mechanic call. Hopey and Maggie get a whole page to talk and it’s a great sequence. Masterful pacing from Jaime.
From there, it’s Hopey to her band practice, which doesn’t go well, and Maggie off to play with boys. The issue ends with Terry confronting Hopey over her relationship with Maggie and Maggie’s latest suitor getting teased for liking her. It’s all beautifully done–with Jaime using a real comic strip pacing to the transitions–and kind of dark and despondent. Like it’s a fun installment and all, but it’s not a happy one.
Then Beto ups the ante by a gazillion in Palomar. Jesus in prison. Some giant egg-looking clay prison on an island. The whole thing seeps misery. Beto’s sympathetic to all of the prisoners, which makes the whole thing even more miserable.
(It should be noted none of the prisoners are actually villainous, so it’s easier to be sympathetic towards them).
Anyway. Jesus spends his days daydreaming about Luba. He spends his nights rolling around with the boys, but the days are spent imagining Luba jumping him. Except then Luba turns into his wife in his daydreams. And then he remembers what got him in trouble, which Beto hasn’t ever visualized firsthand before. Not from Jesus’s perspective anyway.
And he also got in more trouble after the first conviction, saving a fellow inmate from a particularly bad beating. That inmate is the sidekick in this story–the guy, Obregon, has this intensely memorable Beto face. There’s a lot of exagerrated expression in the story, but it’s when Beto’s not doing a lot of emoting his faces are best. Some great quiet expressions this issue.
Whole story hinges one actually.
It’s a serious story. With a glimmer of light at the end. It’s probably Beto’s best done-in-one Palomar story so far. Even if it’s real unpleasant.
Then comes a Rena story. Queen Rena. It’s a flashback to before she hooked up with Bernie Carbo, which Jaime even acknowledges is a plot point in the subtitles to the story. Rena is bounty hunting. She’s after a shitty, physically abusive man. Some of the story is the chase, which is funny and intense and unpleasant.
Here Jaime does all the unpleasant upfront. As the story goes on, bringing young Duke in, bringing young Bernie Carbo in, even Bull Marie (who’s never young), it gets lighter. Rena’s a hero and she’s got a traditional supporting cast, but the settings and circumstances are all different. It’s fun. It’s funny.
Jaime lightens it up. He even goes dark–to silhouette–with the finale and it turns out to be slapstick. It’s a fantastic mix, with Rena at the center. She’s a great character and kind of Jaime’s best lead so far. She can handle the “lead” much better than Maggie. At this point, anyway.