Fantagraphics; 1993; $2.95; 36 pgs; available collected.
Love and Rockets #41 is kind of strange. Both Beto and Jaime have somewhat peculiar story subjects. Beto opens the issue with an Errata Stigmata comic, but about her parents trying to ward death away from her. It’s four disquieting pages. Beto concentrates on the mood and lets the narrative bewilder. It’s an experiment in making the reader squirm for mixed, murky reasons.
It’s quite effective. But also an inglorious return for Errata.
Then Jaime does this sixteen page wrestling epic. It’s Maggie in the present at her aunt Vicki’s wrestling camp for girls and it’s flashbacks to Vicki’s wrestling career. Specifically how she let her homophobia ruin her life. In the present, while Maggie considers her experience at Chester Square–and last issue–she also discovers a girl in love with her best friend and quietly identifies. Loud, then subtle, loud, then subtle. Great stuff from Jaime. The scenes are all well-paced, the talking deads stuff is amazing. There’s a funny Peanuts reference at the beginning. It’s great.
And a little weird in being Tia Vicki’s return to Love and Rockets. She’s been gone maybe eight or ten issues.
Then Beto’s got two more stories, both Palomar adjacent. The first, the secret history of underworld enforcer Gorgo, ends up in Palomar. And reveals some Palomar secrets. Or hints at additional secrets. It’s a good three pages. Funny and weird and affecting. All in about equal portion.
Speaking of affecting, Beto goes for the jugular with the finale. Seven pages of terror with Luba’s half-sisters as kids in the United States. Turns out Luba probably didn’t miss much with Maria for a mom. Her half-sisters–Petra and Fritzi–showed up in Beto’s Love and Rockets story, very, very discreetly at the start–stay at home all day while mom Maria is out doing whatever. Seducing men it sounds like from the obscene phone calls from angry wives and lustful husbands. The grade schoolers answering the phone, disturbed without understanding why. Beto’s exploring intense trauma. There’s two and a half excruciating pages where you’re just wondering how much worse things are about to get for the kids. You’re trying to imagine it; Beto’s set up all the danger.
But of course you’re also supposed to remember they’re safe and well in the present. At least one of them, anyway. Beto might write big epics but he paces them to be read as published–even after he’s finished Poison River and Rockets, he’s still using their connections to explore new material. The last story is intricate. And terrifying. And great.
With an Errata cameo of sorts.
So nothing super weird, but everything a little weird. It’s one of those great, not particularly ambitious but achieving without apparently trying issues of Love and Rockets. It’s the Love and Rockets version of comfort reading.