Beto’s got two stories in Love and Rockets #27, neither Palomar-related, both more concentrated on the art. The first is a two-pager about traffic. Automobile traffic and the false promises of automobile ownership. There’s some really detailed art, much different than anything Beto’s done (at least lately), with an emphasis on patterns and panel layouts. It’s a neat start to the issue.
His second story comes at the end, the dialogue-free A Folktale–oh, right, Beto’s using pseudonyms on both stories. The first is by Bob Dillon, the second is by Loup Garou (on the first page) and then Karl Barx on the last. It’s about a woman who’s (apparently) having a BDSM party, an old man peeing in the ocean, and the devil. There’s a teleportation orb; kids playing on the beach push the old man into the orb, he shows up at the party. Where the devil has just arrived. Only the women isn’t so taken with the woman as she is with a hooded man (with skulls in his eyes). The old man has crosses. There’s a lot going on. It’s eight pages. Lots of liquids, the implication the old man is God, all sorts of stuff. It’s a good close to the issue. Beto’s taking a break from worrying about the narrative.
In between is Jaime’s second part to the Maggie working for her Aunt Vicki story. Lots happens. Vicki is winning all the wrestling matches because Maggie being so standoffish with her is pissing Vicki off so she’s taking it out on opponents. Meanwhile, back in Hoppers (now, for the first time, I think, near or part of L.A.–Vicki’s getting Maggie a plane ticket, it comes up), Doyle and Kiko are sitting around talking about what’s going on with Maggie’s love life (i.e. Ray vs. Hopey). Jaime keeps going back to them for their commentary, as Maggie eventually gets fired and then goes on the road with one of Rena’s old wrestling partners in a hunt for Hopey.
Jaime does a bunch of character development on Vicki, a little on the Hoppers supporting cast–mostly Daffy. Maggie’s hunt for Hopey comes up empty but she does manage to get wasted a lot and go to the zoo. And maybe there’s some resolution for Maggie and Vicki, though Maggie’s almost completely unaware of how much their relationship problems are weighing on Vicki. It’s kind of like it’s Vicki’s story, with everything else just extra to set up whatever’s next once Maggie gets back to Hoppers.
One thing Jaime doesn’t do is anything with the recently deceased Speedy. Kiko mentions him, but doesn’t name him, and Izzy appears silent in a panel during a dream sequence. After the first page, which features Roy Cowboy (a Jaime character from the early days of Love and Rockets) as a wrestling announcer, and has a larger establishing panel, Jaime sticks to six or seven panels a page. He’s getting really good with the detail in these smaller panels. Scene pacing, implied movement between panels, establishing shots during scenes and conversations, all of it’s outstanding.
But it’s all a delay. The story ends with Maggie in stasis for a few months, not having to think about the future, getting to stay in Vicki’s house while Vicki’s on the Japanese wrestling circuit. It’s cute–and works thanks to the story being from Kiko and Doyle’s perspective, at least as far as Hoppers drama goes–but is hard not to feel like Jaime’s avoiding things. Like Maggie being the protagonist.