The third book of Jaime Hernandez’s Love and Rockets collection is divided by its characters. In the first half, Maggie and Hopey argue and drift apart, leaving centre stage for the back stories of some of Jaime’s ancillary characters.
Maggie only really appears in flashback, leaving Hopey and those around her to wonder what happened and where she’s disappeared to. In previous books Maggie has been the central pivot around which these characters’ lives have revolved. But without her, their lives carry on regardless, as they continue to play out their own defeats and victories.
Meanwhile, Maggie finds herself lost in the wilderness of the Mexican border in the second half of the book. Drifting between her aunt’s wrestling school and a run-down, ramshackle town in its final death-throes of destitution, Maggie is lost and alone.
Her story is more depressing and she stoops particularly low in her effort just to carry on surviving. She faces up to some of the bad choices she’s made in the past but doesn’t seem capable of avoiding making the same mistakes over and over. While Rand Race and her mechanic past are alluded to throughout the book, Maggie couldn’t be further away from the science fiction realism that made up the first few chapters of Love and Rockets. Real life has hit Maggie hard and while the punk spirit is still strong, Maggie has grown into a different girl.
As ever, Jaime’s clear line style is masterfully rendered. The simplicity of his characters is disguised only by their realism, a clash of styles that he’s an accomplished practitioner of. Truly, in my opinion, there isn’t another artist working in comics who can seemingly capture so much from his characters while using so little.
While some of the book necessarily feels a bit lost, as the characters amble purposelessly through their lives, there’s a progression here that continues to develop. It may not be the biggest or most dynamic story that’s come from Jaime’s pen, but if the previous volume’s death of Speedy storyline was the catalyst that brought on Maggie’s adulthood, this volume is the inevitable fallout.