Maria M.

Gilbert Hernandez. Fantagraphics, $29.99 (232p) ISBN 978-1-68396-016-4
Hernandez (the Love and Rockets series) again channels his obsessions into feverish soap opera with unplumbable depths, here following decades in the life of Maria, a beguiling woman with a taste for bad men and dangerous situations. Maria immigrates from Latin America to the U.S. in the 1950s, works odd jobs, takes increasingly seedy modeling and acting gigs, and falls in with mobsters. As the mistress and eventual wife of Luis, the head of a crime family fronted by a fashion company, she evades death while attracting the lustful attention of her two stepsons. If this sounds like the stuff of an old-fashioned potboiler, it is: the graphic novel is packed with sex, shoot-outs, gangster drama, naked ladies with guns, and dialogue such as “Let’s finish the movie! We’ll shoot around all the blood and splatter.” Like most of Hernandez’s female leads, Maria is outlandishly top-heavy (“She’s more suited for a sideshow than modeling,” one character muses), and much is made of her sexual charisma and “milky silky smooth flawless skin.” But the pulp plot is executed with style, strong and sensitive character development, practiced casual linework, and the kind of gonzo weirdness—such as Maria’s talent for cracking walnuts with her abs—that defines the Hernandez ethos. This tale feels like the half-remembered dream of a midnight movie, making for a whimsy worth reading. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 09/19/2019
Release date: 10/08/2019
Genre: Comics
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