Fantagraphics; 1992; $2.75; 36 pgs; available collected.
Beto gets two stories, Jaime gets two stories. Beto’s are installments of Love and Rockets (the surprisingly penultimate one) and Poison River (part ten, but apparently not penultimate). Jaime’s got two Wigwam Bam entries–parts six and seven.
There’s some funny stuff in Jaime’s entries. Not to mention Izzy and Hopey reuniting. But Beto’s got two phenomenal stories. And they’re really short. Love and Rockets is nine panels a page, six pages. Eighth part of Love and Rockets and it’s still unclear who’s going to get a focus. Maricela makes sense; the story has become about her and Riri over the installments. And other characters have fallen off. Or been shipped off to Palomar for safe keeping. But Beto’s got a story with the skinheads. They haven’t gotten a lot of attention–kind of ever–but their story is the framework everything else in Rockets plays off. Even though those characters don’t participate in as many story threads as the other ones.
Beto’s done an unpretentious character intersection thing set in Los Angeles and Hollywood. And he’s never drawn attention to it. Even when Love and Rockets has seemed a little too slight or a little too much (the band), Beto’s never let it get out of control–he’s always been able to keep it on the path to get it to this conclusion.
It’s not a particularly flashy story–even with the surprising title–but Love and Rockets really does show off Beto’s writing skill.
So does Poison River this issue, but it’s always been the flashier of the two stories. It’s a ten page crime story. Luba’s sort of just been a red herring. It’s all about her husband, Peter, and his father and the various criminals they’ve interacted with over the years. The end of the entry returns focus to Luba, but Beto took it away from her for a lot of this story. And apparently it’s not over next issue, so maybe he’ll have a chance to tie it all together?
It seems possible. Though more from what he’s done in Rockets than River. River has excellent sections, but the connective tissue is sometimes tenuous. Rockets isn’t sections–with one exception–just connective tissue laid out linearly.
Jaime’s Wigwam Bam chapters aren’t anywhere near as ambitious as Beto’s entries. Even when Jaime goes for something a little more–a regular cast member’s grand exit–it doesn’t really come off. It kind of comes off, but it’s not a main cast member. No matter how hard Jaime has tried to make them one for more than a dozen issues.
Meanwhile, Hopey has a weird encounter with a famous female comedian. It’s really funny stuff and Jaime’s comic timing is great, but it’s kind of just Hopey mugging for the… page. Juxtaposed with Hoppers and Hopey is Izzy heading east and visiting various people. What’s must upsetting about Wigwam Bam this issue is how well the second installment opens only for Jaime to run away from all of it. He’s avoiding scenes again.
Though Rocky and Fumble have parts, with Rocky now a friend of Danita and Fumble on her bed. It’s cute, but also during Jaime’s apparent abandoning of Danita as a character. She’s not the one who leaves, she’s just utterly reduced. It’s weird.
So while the Wigwam Bam stories are effective, sometimes it’s Jaime trying to be effective. The Hopey and Izzy stuff is excellent, but it’s measured and precise and deliberate. Jaime’s avoiding again, like I said. He hasn’t lost his mojo. He’s just figured out how to do his mojo.
Meanwhile Beto’s seemingly effortlessly turned his “play” story Rockets into something amazing and rescued Poison River (once again) from its troubles.