Monday, December 03, 2018

Book-A-Day 2018 #337: Love and Rockets: New Stories, No. 7 by The Hernandez Brothers

In a long-running continuity, I obsess about characters' ages more than I should. What year does this story take place in? Are the characters a year older than the story that came out last year? Can you tell, and does it matter?

The Maggie on the cover of Love and Rockets: New Stories, No. 7 might be on the edge of fifty: it came out in 2014, and she's canonically born in 1965. She's certainly not young, and hasn't been young for a while. (It's a little sad, but it happens to all of us.) That may be ironic for a character so originally defined by her youth -- the girl apprentice prosolar mechanic -- but, again, it's what happens to everyone; we all outrun our own wunderkindity.

Jaime Hernandez's story starting in this book is about that sense, I think: Maggie and Hopey are heading back to some kind of "punk reunion" in Hoppers/Huerta, to maybe spend time people that they haven't seen in years. And the two of them have been quieter friends for the previous decade or so, their old on-again, off-again passion finally settled down and supposedly gone. Maggie seems to be trying to rekindle it, or maybe just doing that reflexive Maggie stir-shit-up thing that she's done all her life. Maggie is the quintessential character who doesn't understand her own motivations: she's always doing things for reasons she doesn't understand, especially in the many cases where they turn out badly.

(Side note: Love and Rockets, as always, is equally divided between Jaime work and stories from his brother Gilbert -- I'll get into Gilbert's stuff next. I'm not neglecting him; the Jaime cover sparked a particular line of thought.)

So Maggie and Hopey take the train from LA back to Hoppers -- after all these years, I'm not super-clear on the geography of Jaime SoCal, but I'm still surprised to see than inter-city rail is a thing there. (Maybe it is in real SoCal? Up in my neck of the woods, I could take a train to Philadelphia or Boston, but I don't think Hoppers is supposed to be that far away.) This volume has the story of what happens before the reunion starts: our two got up to town a day early. Meanwhile, there's another story of goofy Tonta, doing her own thing somewhere else, and a lot of the Maggie-and-Hopey pages are taken up with the movie they're watching, Beto-style. (I don't think the female main character in the "movie," Princess Animus, is supposed to be played by a real Jaime character, but who knows? Maybe he's been infected with the same metafictional mania as his brother.)

It's not just scene-setting, but it is setting up. And we'll see what it's setting up for in No. 8 and (I expect) in the comics series after that.

Gilbert's half of the book is full of yet more Hollywood stories -- of Killer, the most boring big-breasted exploitation actress of all time, still moping around Palomar; a vignette with Killer's great-grandmother Maria and baby Fritz, interspersed with scenes from crappy movies Maria made with some fictional crappy Mexican comedian; and most of what seems to be a modern serial (!?) called The Magic Voyage of Aladdin, which stars Fritz. Plus there's "Fritz Jr.," a porn/fetish actress who claims to be Fritz's daughter, and is only the first of a flood of Fritz imitators (Fritzette! Fritzina! Baby Fritz!).

It feels disjointed at this point, but the multi-Fritz plotline is obviously going to lead somewhere, and I'd bet Fritz Jr. really is Fritz's daughter, since Gilbert likes those kinds of soap-opera plotlines. (I'd almost bet that she's Fritz's secret son, post-transition, since that would be even more shocking and less likely. But she's related somehow.)

No. 7 is thus all beginnings and middles, parts of things that will be clearer once they're organized and complete and collected. There isn't even a table of contents, so it's more difficult to say how many stories there are, or how this book breaks down Jaime/Gilbert. If you only want Love and Rockets once it's settled and final, you probably want to avoid New Stories and stick to the big Library collections -- of course, as far as I know, only the Maggie-and-Hopey parts of this 2015 book are even scheduled to be published next year in a collection, so you might be waiting longer than you'd like.

Life is full of choices.

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