Friday, October 5, 2012

Las Mujeres Perdidas

Las Mujeres Perdidas

If the last volume was notable for Gilbert's extended story "Heartbreak Soup," this one's hallmark is Jaime's "Las Mujeres Perdidas," which follows Maggie as she goes out on another international mechanics mission with her crush/boss/superstar mechanic Rand Race. She deals with jealousy as Rand is also being pursued by a Lois Lane-type journalist and, more significantly, she and Rena Titañon are feared dead after a terrorist bombing. These events send shockwaves in the news and to her friends back home, who fear the worst about her. The story takes a quite rough turn as the duo strive to survive, escape, and find their way back to safety and civilization.

Interspersed in the adventure story are the glimpses of life back home, hinting at the prolonged attention Jaime will pay to the punk rock world of these women in the future. There is an economic and soap operatic flavor to the adventures here, and it feels like Jaime is in some ways working his way through these stories so that he can get to ones he really feels compelled to tell, like the the short tale that closes this volume. With "A Date with Hopey," about one of Hopey's admirers and his misguided attempt at a love connection, we get a glimpse of this endeavor.

Gilbert gets into the punk rock scene himself in this volume, with the brief "Fan Letter," but most of his work in this book builds more into the mythology and universe of Palomar. "Act of Contrition" follows Luba's hesitant relationship with Archie, a local who is smitten by her and is embarrassed to tell her his profession. As the couple go out on the town, the town buzzes with gossip and everybody has an opinion and seems to be somewhat affected. Archie seems like a sweet and likeable guy, and it is difficult not to root for him, though Luba seems more a force of nature and it becomes clear that he might be able to handle or keep up with her.

The other stories "The Whispering Tree" and "The Laughing Sun" establish more local features and background. The first is a short, funny, and haunting account of the local children skulking around a supposedly haunted tree. The second shows us the adolescent gang from volume 2 now all grown up and reunited from their different life trajectories to find their friend Jesus, who blames himself for killing his child and who has disappeared into the mountains outside of town wielding a knife. The goofiness of the old friends reminiscing juxtaposes well with the seriousness, frustration, and concern they feel about their lost comrade and their search for him in the arid and treacherous landscape. The story is at once harrowing, human, and humorous, no small feat to pull off in the space of 20 pages.

My rating: Some great comics from creators who are finding their way through their work.

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