The previous collection of Gilbert Hernandez’s epic Love and Rockets comics saw Luba emigrating to the United States, where her sisters Fritz and Petra enjoy the trappings of American culture. Ofelia continues in a similar vein, focussing on the sisters’ complicated love lives, which intermingle with each other as one sister passes a lover onto another, or finds herself the target of amorous attention from some other knotty relationship. There’s more at stake below the surface, though, with secrets and lies bubbling under the surface.
To a certain extent this relatively humdrum carry-on seems dry and vacuous, quite unlike the inspired work you’ll see in previous volumes like Heartbreak Soup and Human Diastrophism. However, it’s leading up to a finalé that throws thunderbolts into the characters’ lives.
As we pass through his Love and Rockets stories, Hernandez’s art becomes increasingly refined and there’s some beautiful line work in this collection. It can be raw and gruesome in places, refined and delicate in others.
Ofelia isn’t Gilbert’s finest hour but the culmination of plotlines in this volume suggests he might be reignighting a fire underneath his characters, and that the apparent comfort of life in LA might not last forever.