Love and Rockets #18 (September 1986)

Love and Rockets #18

The issue opens with the second part of Beto’s Palomar story. Luba is still stuck in a hole, daughter Guadalupe still hasn’t told anyone (or gotten her mom any food), the bruja has brought a plague to town–her baby’s skull is missing–and sheriff Chelo is down for the count. So Chelo enlists Tonantzin as a deputy.

There are three plotlines: Tonantzin and Guadalupe get the big ones, Chelo gets the third. Because Chelo comes in late–to save the day–while Tonantzin is getting radicalized by a guy out to kill Chelo for killing his brother (last issue). Guadalupe catches the bruja sickness and starts hallucinating while out trying to save Luba from drowning; there’s going to be a major storm.

Lots happens, including a cameo from Errata Stigmata (in Guadalupe’s fever dream). Beto also brings back the original Luba–from the first issue of Love and Rockets–to terrorize Guadalupe. It’s intense. Meanwhile Tonantzin’s pal ends up getting more and more dangerous, including to her, and Chelo’s just trying to get the bruja out of town.

Beto paces it for humor after a while. He starts with it being dangerous and, frankly, gross (everyone’s got brusing on their faces from the bruja’s plague). It never loses either of those traits, Beto just brings in the humor eventually. Because Guadalupe is fun. Tonantzin is fun. He puts off embracing it until the last possible moment.

Then he ends it on this ominous, sad, desperate note. Only to do a final page of nine panels showcasing life in Palomar after the plague and the troubles it brought its cast. It’s an excellent comic. And completely different than the first part of the story. Beto’s visual pacing is different, how he lays out the town–visually presents it for the reader to track the action through it–is different. Probably because the streets are mostly empty due to plague and storms.

Locas gets the second half of the issue. A lot happens, including the return of Penny Century, who’s no longer the fun loving pal from earlier issues but now a slightly despondent trophy wife. And she’s dyed her hair.

Jaime also confirms Hopey and Maggie are occasional lovers. He also seems to forget Maggie is (or was) a mechanic. At her new job, her car breaks down and her dude coworker has to fix it for her. The Penny thing is a little strange, because she used to get her own strips and now she’s uncool. Maggie and Hopey getting it on is fine. Not sure why the confirmation is coming here, maybe because Maggie’s moving in with her aunt for a while. But the mechanic thing? It’s bothersome. Really bothersome.

Because it’s not even like Maggie just lets the guy do it. She actually appears to have forgotten her mechanic skills.

The story itself is Maggie and Hopey moving into Terry’s. Their moving day and all the things they have to do; it’s a direct sequel to the previous issue’s entry, with Hopey profusely apologizing to Terry happening off-page.

After twelve pages of Hopey and Maggie getting through the day, which includes a wake, a trip to the guitar shop (bringing further revelations about Hopey’s band), a second appearance from Doyle (who’s got a truck and is helping move), and some Izzy insight too. Jaime does a whole lot.

He’s established an excellent overall pace to the recent Locas strips. They’re slice of life but dramatic and revelatory. There’s not as much ambitious art–no full page silhouette pages, for example–but Jaime keeps busy integrating all those ambitions into the panels. Anything with a shadow is all shadow. It makes everything real sharp, including the humor panels.

Hopefully Maggie remembers she knows how to mechanic soon, because it’s the only concerning thing. Otherwise, awesome. Even when–particularly when–it’s slightly uncomfortable or unpleasant.

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