Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Review - Love and Rockets: New Stories #3


Now this is more like it. After two slightly disappointing issues, Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez deliver a great third issue of Love and Rockets: New Stories. Once again, Gilbert provides two connected strips. The first, ‘Scarlet By Starlight’, is a sci-fi tale in which three humans take advantage of some aliens on another planet. One of these aliens is a big-titted cat-woman, whose relationship with one of the humans has disastrous consequences for her family. It’s a sexy / disturbing tale and I liked it quite a lot. And like Gilbert’s strips in L&R:NS #2, it is linked to his other strip in this issue, ‘Killer * Sad Girl * Star’, by Killer, a teenage actress who seems doomed to star in remakes and sequels. Killer has been offered the chance to star in a remake of ‘Scarlet By Starlight’, as well as the sequel to a superhero film she starred in as a child, and her parents are worried that she might be exploited. In my review of L&R:NS #2, I complained that that issue’s Killer strip seemed a bit pointless, but now I am somewhat intrigued by this cold character, who appears to leave a female police officer for dead after seeing her attacked, and I really like the way that Gilbert linked his two (seemingly unrelated) strips in this issue and the last by having one of the strips turn out to be the comic strip version of an old film that Killer may or may not remake. I also now realise that Killer looks a lot like a young Luba because she is the daughter of Luba’s daughter, Guadalupe, which I probably should have known already (note to self: make sure you read / re-read all of L&R Vol.2 before you pass judgement on L&R:NS #4).

As good as Gilbert’s strips in this issue are, though, Jaime’s two strips are even better. The first, ‘The Love Bunglers’, is about an adult Maggie’s sort-of date with her ex-boyfriend, Ray, who is still in love with her. We also discover that Maggie has a stalker, whose identity is not revealed until the last page of the strip. The highlight of this issue, though, is Jaime’s other strip, ‘Browntown’, starring a ten-to-thirteen-year-old Maggie, her kid sister Esther, and her little brother Calvin. I don’t remember seeing Calvin in L&R before (note to self: make sure you read / re-read all of L&R Vol.2 and L&R Vol.1 before you even think about passing judgement on L&R:NS #4) but his fate in this story, the lengths he goes to protect his mother and his sisters, while his father fools around with a female work colleague and his parents’ marriage falls apart, is really upsetting. This great little story also serves as an origin tale of sorts for Maggie the mechanic and Maggie the punk and would have been worth the price of the book on its own.

Some familiarity with both Jaime and Gilbert’s characters may be necessary in order to fully appreciate their strips in this issue, which unfortunately means that this issue is unlikely to hook in many new readers, but I guess that is always going to be a problem as long as they continue to produce stories about these well-established characters. For readers already familiar with them, though, or for those with time and money available to invest in getting to know the Hernandez brothers’ back catalogue, this is a pretty essential purchase.

Cost: This has a recommended retail price of £10.99 / $14.99 but I got my copy from the Book Depository for £8.22 including postage (it has since gone down in price to £8.08). It was worth every penny.

6 comments:

  1. I have four things to say....
    1. First up, I love this website, and you pick some really cool things to review.
    2. I'm totally with you on what you said on New Stories 1. I also had totally lost track of what was happening in the series. I think I got to about Luba's Comics and Stories 5 (The Loves of Hector) and I'd completely lost track of who was a lesbian, who was sleeping with who... and who the hell was Hector? I guess it just wasn't working for me as a quarterly title.
    3. I bought New Stories 3 and it blew my mind. That Browntown story was amazing. It amazed me so much that it made me go back and re-read the entire series and buy my missing issues (very hard to do, and it doesn't help that the collections are all over the place). It's all so amazing.
    (I've added a 4. I'm glad you spotted that Killer is Guadalupe's daughter - I didn't realise that either, until I read the relevant story).

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  2. Thanks, Mart. Glad you like the site. I am planning on re-reading / reading all my Love and Rockets books soon - everything that follows on from Vol.1, at least - and getting hold of any missing books (I think the only one I'm missing is 'The High Soft Lisp', but I'm not completely sure). Most of the stories in these books I have only read in serial form and the books are things I just bought and stuck on my shelf, with the intention of reading them one day but I never quite got around to it. There is going to be at least a couple of books full of material I have never read, as I now think that I didn't read at least the last eight issues of L&R Vol.2, and most of the material in the other books I probably won't remember. I will review them all here when I get around to reading them, in between other reviews, hopefully sometime before L&R:NS #4 comes out.

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  3. P.S. I think that Killer may have also appeared in some of the comics Gilbert has done for Dark Horse, none of which I have read, just to make things really confusing.

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  4. It's a shame that Fantagraphics seem to be shepherding people more towards the massive complete Luba/Locas collections - it's much more fun reading the single issues and the smaller collections. High Soft Lisp and Three Daughters actually contain some brand new material.
    I'm now fascinated by the new Fritz Z-movie graphic novels - Gilbert's new thing. Z-list graphic novel movies starring Fritz. Speak of the Devil was published by Dark Horse but I have no idea why (and Fritz looks different).

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  5. I quite fancy those new Gilbert comics now, too. Are any of them any good?

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  6. Do you mean the Fritz z-movie ones? They are a bit bizarre... violent, David Lynch-y... But it's good old Fritz innit.
    Anything else by Gilbert is highly recommended!!

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