Fantagraphics; 1987; $2.25; 36 pgs; available collected.
Both Beto and Jaime are in the second chapters of multi-issue stories in Love and Rockets #22–including a Jerusalem Crickets (starring Hopey and the band) two-page entry. It’s strange because it doesn’t quite work out like usual. Meaning Beto doesn’t knock it out of the park.
But he’s second. I’ll wait this time for him.
Jaime’s Jerusalem Crickets two-pager has Hopey finally writing to Maggie. The strip’s funny, humanizes Terry some more, and is generally cute. Jaime’s a lot less focused on Terry and Hopey previously being romantic than Terry towering over Hopey and it being kind of a sight gag. It’s a cute opener.
And is most interesting because Maggie’s not thinking about Hopey at all anymore in Locas, which continues The Death of Speedy Ortiz–Jaime’s now playing with the promise of the title, moving various pieces around the board. Ray’s still in love with Maggie, still doesn’t talk to her (because he’s got to hang out with the boys). Esther and Speedy are fighting, Blanca (who Speedy has sex with whenever he’s mad at another girl) is out stalking Speedy’s new mystery girlfriend, Esther’s gangster boyfriend is in town, and Maggie is still mad crushing on Speedy.
There’s a lot of great art, with Ray and the boys’s night scene full of wonderful silhouette. The sun sets during the story, which Jaime tracks across pages subtly but definitely. As time progresses, the tone gets more and more dangerous. Jaime follows Ray and Maggie, with Speedy getting the last two pages. Maggie’s barefoot the whole time, which is never a plot point, but a recurring detail. It’s awesome.
Jaime also plays a lot with plaid in the silhouette (the Dairytown gangsters wear plaid), and a lot with depth. He’s keeping with seven panels on most pages, but very ambitious with his exteriors in those smaller panels.
Izzy has a one panel, foreboding appearance. She’s gardening, which is again strange. Smiling last issue, gardening this one.
It’s a very successful entry, setting the issue up for a great Palomar. Which then turns out not to be so successful. Mostly because it doesn’t seem like Beto’s Palomar knows what he wants to do with it. He’s got all sorts of things going on and doesn’t really want to concentrate on any of them.
The first sign of misused pages is the title page. Beto uses a whole page for it. One out of fifteen. Then he spends the next page and a half on some dorky American surfers bickering over what kind of music to play on their boom box on the beach. Then it’s a check-in on Diana and Tonantzin, but not a scene, just establishing Tonantzin is still nuts and Diana is still worried.
Teenage Humberto’s interest in art–facilitated by Heraclio, who’s happy to have someone around to appreciate it–gets a page. Humberto will come back a bit later, but it’s not really important yet. It’s well-executed, well-written, but kind of a time waster. Then it’s off to Luba’s daughters and their problems; eventually there’s the reveal the oldest daughter is gay and hiding it, while the other one going to school has a book stolen by the monkeys.
Mind you, last issue ended on the haunting image of a dead child and a serial killer. Now it’s a little kid with a giant book, so big she has to carry it over her head. It’s the most outlandish, cartoonish thing Beto’s ever done in Palomar (or so I recall).
When he does get around to Chelo investigating the murder from last issue, there’s more fighting with the newly appeared mayor, but nothing substantial. It’s nowhere near as disturbing as the possibility Martín’s reaction to it is going to be terrifying. And then Beto introduces a girl who has a crush on Martín, as she’ll be important in the end.
Luba shows up just long enough to break Archie’s heart, the surfers come back, Luba’s daughters have a scene, there’s dancing, then there’s the serial killer ending….
Every page has three rows of panels and it’s rare for any of the plot lines to get more than two full rows and a single transition panel on another, sometimes crossing page breaks. It’s packed. With too much information, too much plot developments, too little character.
It actually reminds a lot of that picnic story Beto did about ten issues ago when he also didn’t seem like he knew what he really wanted to do with the pages.
The ending with the serial killer is terrifying, there’s a lot of good art, but it’s not substantial at all.
I don’t know if the comic’s been this uneven, quality-wise, between the brothers before.