Fantagraphics; 1987; $2.25; 36 pgs; available collected.
I misunderstood last issue when the letter page said it was the last Heartbreak Soup story for a while. It might have been the last Heartbreak Soup but not the last Palomar. Palomar is going strong, with a very creepy–while still very funny at times–story about a serial killer coming to town as Archie proposes (again) to Luba. There’s also a bunch of back story on her kids. Other plot points include Carmen, Pipo, and Diana worrying abut Tonantzin’s fear of invasion, as well as the introduction of Alcalde… the mayor. Who knew Palomar had a mayor.
Beto moves between the characters, focusing mostly on Luba, before wandering from person to person. Heraclio inadvertantly claims his (unknown to him) daughter with Luba as his own, leading to a scene at Luba’s, which introduces the workers outside town. One of them is the serial killer, one of them is the man Luba can’t resist (and father of two of her children), one is Ofelia’s love interest. Kind of cool for Ofelia to finally get a love interest.
Meanwhile, Beto has the creepy monkeys–all silhouette except pointy teeth–making “chit chit chit” noises to raise the tension. Plus, one of Luba’s kids won’t stop making the noise. Creepy, romantic, funny. It’s an awesome story.
Beto’s also got a one pager opening the issue, Bala. A guy runs at the glass wall of the third wall. It’s visual, it’s funny, it’s the first time he’s had anything but Palomar in a while.
Jaime’s got two stories. First is Jerusalem Crickets, which is a quickie–seven pages–about Hopey and the band on tour. Turns out Hopey’s scared to call Maggie, who was originally supposed to go with but then they cut out on her. Jaime remembers Maggie’s a mechanic again so it’s so unclear why she had that dude she worked with fix her car a few issues ago.
It’s a fun story, especially since the bandmates have barely figured into any of the Locas stories. They’ve been present, but rarely active. Terry’s a whole lot more likable here than ever before. Things aren’t going well on the road. Jaime’s got some great single, wide panels of their shows.
Meanwhile, back in Hoppers–and after Beto’s Palomar story–Maggie’s dealing with her sister, Esther, moving to town on weekends. There’s a misunderstood love square with Maggie, Speedy (who Maggie kind of liked and who kind of liked Maggie), Esther (who likes Speedy and who Speedy now likes), and Ray (who likes Maggie but thinks she’s dating Speedy).
Alongside that story, which Jaime plays a little for laughs, a little not (Maggie is rather conflicted about her feelings, Speedy is a manipulative monster of a dude), is the Dairytown gang driving through and raising the possiblity of violence. Ray–back in town so giving the reader an entry perspective–reflects on what he sees, which lets Jaime get away with quite a bit of exposition.
Jaime uses comedic comic strip techniques on serious subjects and vice versa; it works out beautifully.
Both Bros Hernandez seem a lot less interested in being likable–if Beto was ever interested in it, but Jaime certainly made his cast likable at the start–and more confident in their storytelling. Jaime’s art for the stories this issue don’t have the big art emphasis–literally big, like big panels, where he used to let loose. He’s got a single big panel, everything else is eight panel pages, in three rows–and he lets loose in those, confidently using silhouette for mood and abbreviation, ditto expressions.
It’s a great issue. Of course it is.