cover image Love and Rockets: New Stories #5

Love and Rockets: New Stories #5

Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez. Fantagraphics, $14.99 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-1-60699-586-0

In the 30 years they’ve been writing and drawing Love and Rockets, Los Bros Hernandez have created wonderfully complex story lines and characters. In this volume, Gilbert concentrates on episodes in Palomar, a Latin American village whose inhabitants are deliberately cartoony in appearance and oddly bemused in attitude, especially during a visit by the spectacularly buxom granddaughter of series mainstay Luba. Using a more fluid, lively style, Jaime presents glimpses of Chicano/Chicana life in a North American city, as beautiful but hotheaded Vivian (aka Frogmouth) and her plain, chunky half-sister Tonta hang out with smalltime gangsters. Wherever they live, people can’t avoid the threat of violence—or of disquieting, tantalizing revelations about who they really are. While Gilbert’s work weaves in and out of the 30-year history he’s crafted for Palomar, Jaime’s longer story is more accessible to newcomers, with vain, destructive Vivian and slow, clumsy Tonta more extreme versions of Hopey and Maggie. This web of superior magical-realistic storytelling involves readers in the perplexed yearnings of a huge cast of unforgettable characters unaware of their own capacity for general self-delusion and occasional self-discovery. (Sept.)