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Love And Rockets (Locas vol 1): Maggie The Mechanic

Love And Rockets (Locas vol 1): Maggie The Mechanic back

Jaime Hernandez


Page 45 Review by Tom

The only cliché surrounding Love & Rockets is that every review you'll ever read about it is the same gush-fest. I'm not saying this review will be an exception, but I'll at least try to justify my love for these stories as best I can. This stuff is timeless, as fresh now as it was 25 years ago and as surprising and enjoyable to me now as it was when my callow eyes first found it in a bargain bin (in my last job, not here!) seven years ago.

The very early stories reprinted in MAGGIE THE MECHANIC are often dismissed as inferior to the more "realistic" late 80s/early 90s. But the strange mix of teen romance, "Boys Own" adventure, golden age/B-movie sci-fi, wrestling and punk is just perfect! It's everything I want in life, let alone in a comic. It's like some strange melting pot for all the geeky and cool things I grew up with. Give the series a pair of headstrong female lovers as protagonists - Maggie & Hopey - and well, it didn't just snare my head but harpooned my heart too. Maggie & Hopey's early escapades in MECHANIC are short, irreverent sci-fi pastiche infused with teenage kicks. Stories of Maggie in her day job as an assistant "Pro-Solar" Mechanic fixing up Rocket ships and crashing Hover-Bikes merge into Hopey's tales of obnoxious punk debauchery. The effect is like TANK GIRL with decent dialogue, classy art and far more clout. Only with heavy references to Flash Gordon (look at those ship designs! Lifted straight from Dr. Zarkov's blueprints...) to obscure punk bands, all meeting in some strange Latin corner of L.A. called Hoppers.

By THE GIRL FROM H.O.P.P.E.R.S. Jaimie has dropped the sci-fi in favour of straight fiction. But that's ok as by this point his form had evolved and his stories need the room to breath: to stand the test of time and last past the mere sentimentality of his legion of fans. "Death Of Speedy" - the central story of THE GIRL - is one of Jaimie's absolute peaks and one of the greatest American literary comic works ever produced. You could pick up this volume and everything you need to know about these characters is right there. The history not just explained but refined in a series of flashbacks utilizing some of the best visual narratives I've read. They simply refuse to meet you half way, you have to read the panels as well as the words to grasp it. Speedy's eventual demise is blatantly given away by the title of the story but his downfall and the delicately choreographed roles his friends and acquaintances play, make his end a fulfilling and surprising read. This is paralleled by Maggie & Hopey's estranged relationship taking a nose dive as Hopey goes on a two month tour with her on/off on-the-side, Terry Downe, the guitar player in her atrocious punk band. Two months turn into years and home alone, Maggie finds love and something resembling stability in the arms of aspiring artist, Ray Dominguez. The whole affair is as complex and compelling a read as any prose and in my opinion as quintessentially American as The Great Gatsby. The many threads create a strong body of work questioning the identity of America's down and out youth. Their culture of rebellion and revolution (paradoxically the basis of the country's ideals and about as punk as you can get) at odds with "traditional" lifestyle choices as Maggie's heart is torn between Ray and Hopey. This is as good as comics get. Brilliant stuff.

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