Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Death of Speedy

The Death of Speedy

This book is the first of these volumes to contain work from only one brother. Jaime's work here ends up on all kinds of "best of comics" lists. People love it, and it is easy to see why. A lot happens: Hopey goes on tour with her band La Llorana. Izzy's little brother Speedy and his boys are running in some tough circles. Maggie is left to her own devices and begins a relationship with Ray, an artist who is a decent guy and in many ways a stand-on for Jaime Hernandez. Hopey keeps missing opportunities to contact and reconnect with Maggie. After some band drama, she ends up spending two weeks in a huge mansion with Penny Century having casual sex with a large musician named Texas. Aunt Vicki gives Maggie a job and keeps sweeping her off on wrestling road trips.

Not only does much happen, there is also a gamut of emotions. The drama of macho posturing and the random danger that comes from armed young men revenging perceived disrespect. The pettiness of young couples trying to get back at one another for small slights. The pathos when Speedy tells Maggie he loves her and only her and she just cannot deal. The sad release of Speedy telling Izzy not to worry about him any more. The alternate monotony and random mayhem that happens during life on the road. The giddiness of the first days of a love affair.

For a person like me who did not take Jaime's work as seriously or with as much regard as his brother's, reading this book is a revelation. All the details and small goings-on from prior stories in these characters' lives suddenly cohere in this monumental work. Speedy, who up until this book was a relatively two-dimensional background character, steps into more prominence, and we see realize he is of more substance. Jaime's artfulness and incredibly subtle craftsmanship appears in full relief here, coalescing into a popular culture masterpiece that elevates the mundane, elucidates people's everyday lives, and portrays a complex array of emotions and relationships.

This book will make you laugh, cry, and want to go to a loud spectacle. It will also make you fall in love with all these people, which makes it hard to let some of them go.

My Rating: All the little pieces add up to a great, big, beautiful stained glass window of stories.

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