The issue opens with Beto and Poison River. It’s set in 1970, during Luba and Peter’s honeymoon. In four pages, Beto develops Luba from a scared teenager to a domineering trophy bride (sort of trophy bride). She learns to have fun, she learns to demand. At the same time, Peter’s getting into club management and drug dealing, though the drug dealing isn’t really a factor. It’s a factor in so much as Peter’s doing it (and he’s got a former bandmate kind of threatening him about it), but it’s not really part of the story.
Simultaneously, there’s the stuff with Peter’s other wife (maybe, not clear) and daughter. The family he’s abandoned for Luba. It’s a quick chapter–eight pages–and most of the action happens in the first four pages. The Luba character development is crazy effective, with Beto really excelling at the summary panels. And it’s got a great cliffhanger. Duel cliffhanger. Luba’s getting more personality but somehow she’s even farther now from the established Luba. Excellent stuff.
Then it’s Jaime’s turn. He’s got three stories. The first and third are parts one and two of “Below My Window Lurks My Head,” or, what has Ray been up to since Maggie reunited with Hopey. Mostly Ray’s been up to Danita. But it takes a while for that reveal. First Jaime brings back Doyle, who’s down on his luck and dangerously miserable–very different angle on the character from last issue, when he got his own story. But Doyle’s only there to get Ray into the bar and they’re only in the bar to meet up with Danita and for Ray to have to tell Doyle he’s been hooking up with her and it’s serious.
The next story is Maggie, Hopey, and Penny (Penny’s in the background, in a hilarious mom mode). Maggie just found out Ray dumped her for Danita, which pisses Penny off. So Maggie decides she’s going to show Ray by hooking up with Hopey–while they’re at Ray’s ex-girlfriend Maya’s place. Only Maya wants to make it a threesome and Maggie doesn’t, which brings back the “not lesbian, Hopey only” sexuality Maggie talked about a dozen issues ago (or more) with… well, Danita. The issue ends with some friction between Maggie and Hopey, mostly because Hopey’s avoiding talking to Maggie about it.
Great art on this story. Simple, great art. Jaime does wonders in seven panels, specifically the visual mood of this unnamed city (or, as Ray calls it, “that big old metropolis”).
Then it’s back to Ray and Danita. Ray’s more serious about the relationship than Danita. They’re arguing because Danita’s son’s father is out of jail and he’s looking for them. He’s murderously dangerous. All these people start showing up at Ray’s apartment; every time the doorbell rings, they think it’s the dad. Only it’s everyone else but the dad–including Penny, who’s mad–and ’Litos (from Hoppers) who hasn’t been in the book for ages.
It turns into a nice party, with some great panels and a lot of texture from Jaime. It’s got a kind of funny ending, but also a sad one. At this point in Love and Rockets, in Locas, it’s impossible to tell what Jaime’s doing with Ray. He’s almost entirely different than when he started but still exactly the same. He’s older, tireder, in a way no one else in the book has aged or exhausted. It’s interesting, particularly since Jaime focused on him so strongly for five or six issues a while ago.
Then Beto closes it off with the second chapter of… Love and Rockets. Seems some skinheads have attacked an old Black lady. A teenage girl might know who did it and she used to date one of the guys in the Love and Rockets band and then there’s surfer dude Steve and Riri and Maricela (worrying about Palomar being attacked by the fascist government). There’s a bunch of new characters, or fleshed out minor characters from last chapter, and a bunch of echoes to Poison River. Maricela has acne, like young Luba does in River. The South American governments–in Rockets–are sending out death squads, just like they’re doing in River.
But Beto’s also, apparently, going to look at punk rock and racism. He does the whole story in three rows of three panels pages, lots of dialogue, lots of characters, lots of jumps between those characters. Not much in the way of establishing shots. It’s something kind of new from Beto because it’s not lyrical, but it’s also not particularly sympathetic to anyone. There are likable characters, sure, but he’s not invested in anyone yet.
As usual, great issue. Very different issue. Los Bros are changing up the comic.