Love and Rockets #28–at least the Jaime stories (he has four)–almost read like an entirely different comic, just with the same characters and the same artist.
The issue opens the only Maggie story. It’s set… sometime after the last issue’s events with her aunt, with Ray painting Maggie. Then he paints Danita instead. There are some jokes and wigging out from Maggie, but Jaime’s a lot more interested in it as Ray the conflicted creative. Lots of thought balloons about his artistic consternation. It’s got a comedic finish (and a Luba reference), but even the finale punchline is a little different. It’s good, with some great motion, but it’s Ray’s comic strip. Even if Maggie’s in it. Weird.
Then is a flashback story about Terry, Hopey’s ex-girlfriend and ex-bandmate. It’s Terry’s story for like a page (in the present people are talking about her to the reader, breaking the fourth wall), but by the second, Hopey’s there and it’s mostly Hopey’s story. Like the subtext is Hopey’s back story (more of it) and the big stuff is Terry’s. It’s beautifully paced. And arguably the most “normal” Locas story in the issue.
Because then it’s another Ray story, only it’s when Ray’s a little kid and it’s like Peanuts. Only with talking adults and lots of trouble and fantastically detailed backgrounds. It’s a cute little story, with Jaime really showing off his comic strip pacing abilities. Some gorgeous silhouettes too.
Then there’s a break in Jaime stuff and it’s Beto’s biography of Frida Kahlo. It’s an illustrated timeline of her life’s big events, with some tangiental information, and some phenomenal art. And a Tonantzin cameo (because Beto couldn’t help himself?). It’s a twelve-page story; the first eight or nine speed past. It slows down before Frida’s death, but Beto doesn’t foreshadow the death. He’s just changing up the pace a little. To be fair, it’s Frida’s life’s events. They’re changing up the pace. Then it’s got a beautiful finish.
It’s confident, measured work from Beto. He’s got his ambitions and he realizes them, even if it is the first time since Love and Rockets started I wished the book was in color. The visuals don’t need it, but who knows what they’d be like if they had color. It’d be cool to see.
Finally, it’s a beautifully paced six pager about Ray and Doyle taking a high school buddy out drinking. It’s played almost entirely for laughs, with a very different sense of humor than Jaime’s ever employed before. The scenes are paced perfectly, there are some great expressions, but there’s no punchline. Not for the characters, not for the reader. Jaime tries something talky for emphasis, it’s just dull. His previous stories all ended with sharp punchlines this issue–even the non-epical Terry story–and it’s a rocky out for the issue. (Beto had a perfectly good finish for the Frida biography too).
So. Kind of strange issue. Successful, especially Beto’s biography thing, but strange thanks to Jaime’s meandering. Sometimes it works better than other times–it might just be Doyle’s a bad character to lead a story, he’s always been a lot better playing off people and Ray’s got zilch in that last story too.
It’s like Locas with dudes, only… the dudes aren’t dynamic.