This latest issue of Love and Rockets: New Stories is another great one. It’s not quite as good as the previous issue, but then, few comics are. Once again, Gilbert tells two seemingly-unconnected-but-actually-connected stories. The first, ‘King Vampire’, is a vampire story (duh!) starring Guadalupe’s daughter, Killer, and Fritz, while the second is a story in which a younger Fritz chats to an old boyfriend about various topics, including the possible end of reading and writing within our lifetimes, atheism, and a vampire movie Fritz has been offered a role in but can’t take on for another seven years, because she’s locked into a contract. The sexy / violent vampire story was okay – well, it looked really good – but I enjoyed reading Gilbert’s second story more, even if it wasn’t necessarily a memorable one, and wasn't as visually exciting as the vampire story. The real star of this issue, though, once again, is Jaime, who offers a sort-of sequel to last issue’s amazing ‘Browntown’ story called ‘Return To Me’ and also concludes last issue’s ‘The Love Bunglers’.
‘Return To Me’ tells the story of a teenage Maggie’s return to Hoppers, three years after the events depicted in ‘Browntown’, and her origins as a mechanic, all told from the point of view of a friend. It’s a good short story, with an unexpected twist in the tail – wisely, it doesn’t try to be another ‘Browntown’ – but the highlight of this issue is the conclusion to ‘The Love Bunglers’, a story about the on / off romance between Maggie and Ray and the return of Maggie’s long-lost brother Calvin. I don’t want to give anything away but this is great work from Jaime, who has always been a great artist but has now developed into the superior storyteller among the various Hernandez brothers, too, which is certainly not what I thought back in the early days of Love and Rockets (in the 1980s, right up until the end of ‘Human Diastrophism’, and possibly even a bit beyond that, I was always more of a Gilbert guy). The end of this story feels like the perfect conclusion for these characters and it’s hard to see where Jaime can go from here with Maggie and Ray, at least. Will future stories focus more on newer characters, like Angel? Will we see more stories about Penny century instead? Or will Jaime go somewhere else entirely (actually, I kind of hope so)? There may even be more Maggie and Ray stories in the pipeline, but whatever happens, I’ll be there.
Cost: It seems wrong, somehow, for me to boast about how little I paid for this – which is the usual remit of this blog – so I won’t. It has a recommended retail price of £10.99 / $14.99. You could get it for less than that online but I doubt you would regret paying full price for it (unless you have never read a Love and Rockets comic before, in which case you might just end up feeling confused reading this – I have been reading Love and Rockets since at least 1987, even I feel like I need to go back and read everything again in order to fully appreciate this series, and one day I will do just that).