blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Birdland (1994) #1


Birdland Volume Two is a comic for all the people who thought Gilbert Hernandez couldn’t do an entire issue of people screwing and still have it land with some kind of deeper impact. The last series ended winking at profundity, and the mood cares into this issue. Beto opens the comic the dawn of time, zooming in to Earth, where a couple dinosaurs are getting it on, and you find out what a T-Rex with a dong looks like.

Thanks, Beto.

Nearby, a couple of cave people get it on, then they become another set of people—straight to the modern age, Beto doesn’t keep with it and go through all three ages–and then another set of people and another set of people and so on. There are scenes in the psychiatrist’s office and a different doctor using the magic necklace from the last series. Fritz’s horny hypnotizer or whatever.

The new psychiatrist might be a Palomar or Luba, like, she looks familiar. But all of Beto’s beefcakes and cheesecakes look the same, just with different hairstyles and bra sizes, so keeping track of the many participants would be time-consuming and not really worth the effort. Because the story’s got nothing to do with them. Beto goes an entirely different route—taking a healthy jaunt through what appears to be a tie-in to the finale of the previous series—and ends up on a simple, visually evocative (but not at all pornographic) epilogue.

Thanks to the route, the ending’s more than fine; it’s nice. It helps the art’s phenomenal on the two or three panels. It’s like Beto wanted to show he could still deliver concisely after spending an issue of bombastic pornography. He’s even figured out how to make it ambitious, having one sequence where everyone morphs into their partner mid-coitus, and the visuals on the transformations are excellent.

Bang Bang has a future story, which means sex, spacesuits, and rocket ships. The whole thing plays like a musical montage, and only Beto knows the exact music. It seems like there’d be a lot of chanting, actually. He tries to make it audial with one of his art devices. It’s actually kind of interesting.

Like, if the first volume had been done the same way, it wouldn’t have needed three issues or so many non-sex scenes.

The first volume was a curiosity. This (twenty-eight years and counting) single issue volume is closer to being worth a look for, pardon the expression, art wanks.

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