Fantagraphics; 1991; $2.75; 36 pgs; available collected.
Either Beto is going to explain all the conspiracies apparently running through Poison River or he’s not. This installment resolves almost every outstanding story thread. It also doesn’t have anything to do with that Pedro cartoon character. He was big in the last installment. Nothing here. Ditto various inneundos.
Instead, Luba’s pregnant. And refusing to admit it. Maybe it’s her husband’s, maybe it’s her lover’s (he initially assaulted her, there’s no transition explaining their romance), maybe it’s the guy who raped her’s. He comes back this issue in an inordinartely depressing scene. Beto hasn’t tried making Luba sympathetic in a while, but at this point he’s obfuscating her thought process. She–and everyone else in Poison River–are a mystery. Even their histories are mysterious, like Peter’s father running a popular musical act (with Peter) and also being an assassin.
Of course, the bigger event is Poison River finally snaking back to the beginning and tying into the first installment.
The flashback is abrupt, which makes it come off a little too cheap, especially given the final reveal, but it’s a good installment. At this point, the question of Poison River is whether Beto’s going to be able to pull it off. There’s so many connections–these guys plotting to kill those guys, these guys stealing babies–then in the flashback Ofelia gets mentioned–well, it’s probably Ofelia, right after her horrifying story from many installments ago.
The story’s changed settings multiple times and even though it has settled in the Peter and Luba in the city thing, there’s still not a tone. It feels more technical than it should.
Whereas Jaime just goes for it with Wigwam Bam. Nicely the issue of Doyle having some romanticized notion of experiencing homelessness comes up so I’m glad his girlfriend was on to his bullshit. But the story opens with Hopey’s brother Joey, who hasn’t been in the book in a while, definitely not since the two year jump forward. Was it two years? Anyway. Joey’s in trouble because his mom found Hopey’s picture on the milk cartons and thought Joey did. Everyone thinks Joey did it. Even Hopey, we learned a few issues ago.
So some of the story is Joey trying to figure out the mystery, some of it is threads from previous installments continuing. Things eventually converge at Izzy’s house but without conclusion.
Izzy gets some scenes, which is nice, even if Jaime is playing way too coy with her. He can do more with Izzy; he’s just not.
He’s not doing more with anyone. There’s eight panels of sight gags on a nine panel page just so he can further delay having to deal with his story. Some very nice panels throughout, of course, but mostly perfunctory. Even when it’s some awesome work, it seems to lack his full attention. Or interest.
Then Love and Rockets cops out with the black kids at the party. Sure, the Hollywood white people are racist about it, but it’s much ado about nothing before sending Maricela and Riri off on separate rides home. Riri with Steve, who’s got the crush on her, and Riri with some of the other supporting cast. Then there’s a big twist for Maricela and Riri, which Beto had never hinted at and ignores some of the previous issue’s developments. Or at least concerns.
It’s effectively done, however, and the cliffhanger is disturbing as heck.