Luba (1998) #2

Luba2

It's a little strange for a twenty-four-year-old comic to hear your requests from the future, but creator Beto Hernandez opens Luba #2 with a cast introduction, just like I wanted. Though it sort of just points out how much I actually remembered and the two things I forgot—whether Pipo was related to Luba (she's not) and what Gato's around for (he's Guadalupe's husband, formerly Pipo's, from Palomar days… I think).

Anyway.

The issue's another generally contemporaneous anthology, starting with Luba and the old man, Gorgo, in the United States, still working on getting her family across safely. Luba's still scared there's a hit out on the family because of something from the past. So she's finally going to meet with people to guarantee it's okay now. But even though she's going alone, she's got to care for the old man a little, including getting help from a fetching young man on the hotel block.

He doesn't speak Spanish, and Luba doesn't speak English, so they have amusing back-and-forths as Luba gets the old man settled and heads to the meeting. Luba's isolation echoes back to the last issue; Beto does an excellent job. There's also a deep cut visual reference to a Love and Rockets arc (the source of the family's potential danger); the visual's familiar, I can't remember the details. In case Beto wants to hear me in the past and include them next issue.

The story ends with a new arc for the old man, which Beto picks up towards the end of the issue.

First, there's the Petra and Fritz story. It starts with the two sisters bicker-bantering about Petra's bungling of her marriage (daughter Venus wants to go live with her step-dad, directly following up Beto's Venus stories in New Love), but then it turns into a Fritz story. Specifically about her being a therapist whose male patients obsess over her and her having multiple lovers. Including some married ones, who are also obsessed, and some asshole ones. They're obsessed too. It's a good story, with a surprising finale and punchline.

It's a "Nights and Days in the Life" type story. Real good.

Though it's nothing compared to the next story, an absolutely phenomenal all-action one for Petra and Venus. Venus is late for an appointment, and Petra keeps screwing up trying to get her there. First, Petra swam too long, which screwed up their leave time but also got her a little pool-loopy. So she takes the wrong pills and maybe puts in the wrong contacts and eats the wrong food, and on and on. Venus has to mother her mom all the while, culminating in Beto doing this phenomenal flash forward.

It's also the funniest story in the comic, though Petra is being a really crappy parent. No wonder Venus wants to go live with her step-dad, which Beto brings up in this story, tying it to the previous one. It's probably his best art in the issue. The expressions (mostly glares) are absolutely fantastic.

The next story is an incredibly packed three pages; it's a Guadalupe story, but it starts with Doralis and her semi-plans to come out on her kids' show. Various cast members talk about the potential repercussions (including Gato being a dick about it because Gato's a dick about everything), while Guadalupe realizes she's the only one of her mom's kids who isn't queer. Seemingly out of seven kids.

It's an incredibly fluid story, as Beto moves Guadalupe from scene to scene, conversation to conversation. What's so impressive is how much personality and how many characters Beto fits into each scene. The supporting cast all gets something to do, sometimes just sight gags, sometimes full jokes—Casimira's bit is awesome–before a comedic but empathic conclusion. Beto's plotting is superb.

The last interior comic is a one-pager catching up with Gorgo after the first story. He's getting ready to do a piece of work and ruminates on Fritz's relationship with Pipo's son, Sergio. It's a nice, short strip with the right amount of sentimentality and bite.

Then there's a color strip on the back cover. Sight gags and absurdist comedy for Fritz and Casimira.

It's another excellent issue. The way Beto breaks up and layers the various concurrent arcs is sublime.

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