cover image The Love Bunglers

The Love Bunglers

Jaime Hernandez . Fantagraphics, $19.99 (104p) ISBN 978-1-60699-729-1

Hernandez (Love and Rockets), one of graphic storytelling's modern masters, returns readers to the mundane world of his most lasting creation, Maggie Chascarillo. Maggie's ongoing soap opera continues as artist and former lover Ray Dominguez re-enters her life, tentatively testing the waters to see if things between the two of them could be rekindled. Theirs was never an easy connection and things have not simplified with middle age, but Ray nonetheless holds out hope despite Maggie's statement of not being right for him. But the human heart is capricious and the outcome of the pair's emotional impasse is far from certain, especially as their situation crosses paths with the considerable dysfunctions of seemingly peripheral characters. This rich tapestry of superb, deceptively minimalist artwork and characterization is rounded out with extended flashbacks to Maggie's adolescence that shed light on how her early experiences affect her actions well into adulthood. Sexual abuse, violence, and the sundering of the family unit are all brought to vivid, sometimes heartbrekaing life with Hernadez's often-uncomfortable honesty, and it's that realistic candor that hooks readers to his stories and characters. (May)