Saturday, November 28, 2009

Love and Rockets: New Stories # 2

Here's how this works. I read a book or two and tell you about them and try not to get too long-winded, and maybe you'd like to think about reading them as well. This time, a review of Love and Rockets: New Stories # 2 (Fantagraphics, 2009).

Maybe complaining that an anthology series like Love & Rockets isn't bringing you what you want is less a reflection on the material than on the reader's expectations, and maybe it isn't, but I honestly didn't enjoy this latest 100-page collection at all. It's much the same as last year's predecessor, with fifty pages of Jaime Hernandez revisiting the weird SF-n-superhero world that's long existed just on the other side of the hills from his Locas stories, and fifty pages of brother Gilbert being as surreal and demented as he likes.

This time out, however, the Ti-Girls adventure makes even less sense than the first outing. Dense with references to untold stories and parallel timelines, it almost does a good job in showing modern superhero epics up as the wastes of time that they are, but it does so at the cost of its own narrative. In six months, I'll remember the details of this story about as well as the last time I tried to read JLA or Legion of Three Worlds: just some convoluted, well-drawn mess.

As for Gilbert, he's made the mistake of introducing us to his new character Killer, while using the technique, perfected towards the end of the Luba saga, of jumping around in the narrative's timeline. I suggest that only works well once readers know the characters and their situation and understand the relationships that he is straining. Two story chunks in, and I do not know who these people are, because he hasn't lingered on any one place and time long enough for them to impact us.

There are fewer than ten pages of Killer this time out, though. Sadly, the bulk of Gilbert's contribution is a 42-page dialogue-free dreamlike mess called "Hypnotwist," in which a blonde cutie wanders from one surreal shocker of nudity, violence and bizarre landscapes to another. I couldn't follow it.

I have a lot of goodwill towards the creators, but the latest iteration of L&R just hasn't rewarded my patience at all. Not recommended.

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