So far, I am learning how difficult it is to review these early volumes that are more anthologies of stories from both brothers. I am going the bullet points and brief commentary route again:
- "The Mystery Wen"- A simple story about the cerebral Heraclio being a hypochondriac who fears going to the doctor.
- "The Way Things Are Going" - A walk on the dingy streets that some of the characters find themselves on when they leave Palomar looking for work. It reads like a short, noirish comic written by Bukowski. That's a good thing.
- "Duck Feet" - A creepy witch story that touches on the town's superstitions, kooky children, haunted trees, indigenous people, the law, and the mundane goings on in Palomar. Surreal, surprising, and suspenseful.
- "Bullnecks and Bracelets" - I am not even going to try to sum up all that happens in this story. It is far-ranging, sheds light into the lives and romances of a great many Palomar characters, and just plain amazing in its scope. This is the first of Gilbert's forays into making a Nashville-like story. Think of it as a short, magical history of Palomar, told with pinache and punch.
- "For the Love of Carmen" - The very first Love and Rockets story I read (in an anthology), and it knocked my socks off. A look at two very different characters that make for a contentious, complimentary, and loving couple. I just marvel at Carmen's combination of bluster and vulnerability. This story may seem sappy to some, but I love how it all comes together.
- "The Adventures of Rocky and Fumble" - By now you know I really like these stories and wish there were more of them. This one is part Huck Finn, part Andy Griffith Show, part Good Times, with a robot. I like the mix of comedy, dread, and whistfulness.
- "Locas" & "Locas versus Locos" & "Secrets of Life and Death"- Maggie ruminates about her weight and catches up with Rand Race. This short, sitcom-ish story kicks off a series of glimpses into various parts of a day in the lives of our heroines. Teresa wants to date Hopey. Hopey wants to date Maggie. A few other folks want to date Maggie, too. There is a whole lot of maneuvering, canoodling, and coach surfing here. Doyle is my favorite.
- Mojado Power" - A "boys will be boys" story with swearing, posturing, and arguing over the relative merits of Barbara Streisand. Just what you expect to find in a Love and Rockets book.
- "Rena" - A brief 2-page look into the former wrestling queen's life in Zymbodia. Mostly involves bickering with Duke and Bernie.
- "Rocket Rhodes" - A sad coda to the Rocky and Fumble stories. Rocky is grown up, stranded on an alien planet, and without much contact or hope of returning to Earth. A weird mix of hopefulness that devolves into adult disillusionment. Jaime can be cruel to his characters sometimes.
My Rating: Contains some of my favorite stories, but it is more uneven than some of my favorite volumes.