What an issue.
Creator Beto Hernandez outdoes himself, starting the issue with a series of one-page strips, catching up with the cast. Though they’re occasionally part of longer stories; for example, the first story is about Ofelia and Doralis visiting Socorro at her genius school. The first page is them getting ready to go, establishing Ofelia and Luba are still fighting, the second page is catching up with Socorro, and the third page is Luba and Ofelia. Connected but separate, which is how Beto’s treated this whole series as an anthology.
The following single-page strip, which has Marciela meeting Khamo at a fire, echoes right back to the Luba and Ofelia portion of the opening three pages, but also Socorro (Maricela’s sister) and the contrasting relationships with mom Luba. It’s so good and quick; Beto then aims it forward with Marciela talking to her girlfriend about the experience.
There are three longer stories, though the first feels a little like an extended single-page strip. It’s Pipo and Fritz, now dating, talking about how they need to dump their (male) lovers. Pipo and Fritz’s romance gets the most page time in this issue, with the third long story almost entirely focused on it and its fallout for the cast. But that first strip feels like a moody, dreamy Beto piece rather than the inciting incident.
Beto then flexes again with Venus and Hector thinking their way through a one-pager about Petra’s first kickboxing match. It’s cute and in no way forecasts the next time Hector and Venus get a strip in the issue, which is the final one and the gut punch.
There’s then a Fortunato story, which is actually an Ofelia story, but with the reveal she too has bedded the seductive merman. Also, all of Luba’s daughters. It’s a beautiful story and probably where Beto winds up for the final punch so much. Much like earlier, there’s then a “separate” but intricately related postscript strip with Luba and Khamo.
The Fritz and Pipo story about them breaking up with their lovers runs eight pages, with Beto still employing the one-page strip device. Everyone in the supporting cast from this storyline gets an appearance, with Guadalupe getting a surprising subplot. Even though the series has been very much about Pipo, Guadalupe’s Luba’s low-key protagonist. It ends on one kicker, as Petra gets more and more exhausted hearing about Pipo’s abusive behavior from Fritz before going into the “things will never be the same” finish.
If the penultimate story ends on a kick to the shins, the last one knocks the reader down and pummels them, with the teaser for the next issue and the color back page pinup the final hits. It’s devastating.
Hell of a comic. Need to stop thinking about it before I cry.
Beto’s so damn good.