Page 45 Review by Stephen
Crime and punishment executed with rapid-fire, bullet-point precision.
You've not read anything like it! Here are three one-panel snapshot scenes featuring three different men wooing Maria:
"I love you, Maria."
"I - I love you, Maria."
"I love you, Maria." *phone rings* "That'll be my wife."
Before we go any further, you may have read something like it - the first half, published some ten years ago. Alas, the second half was never published separately, an increasingly common phenomenon, I'm afraid to say, which penalizes those who invest early on and so undermines confidence in the market. The culprits are some of my favourite publishers, too: Top Shelf was the first with the final instalment of Dylan Horrocks's HICKSVILLE, then Drawn & Quarterly with Seth's CLYDE FANS, and now Fantagraphics. I understand the financial arguments, honestly, I do. It is, however, completely dishonourable.
Anyway, of the first half I wrote:
Maria arrives in the U.S. and gradually learns the language as she begins to understand the country, taking and getting fired from a succession of very dreadful jobs while demonstrating even worse taste in men. She's neither afraid nor ashamed to use her two greatest assets, which are enormous. Eventually she settles down as the doll of drug-peddling mob boss Cienfuegos whose ostensive family business is in ladies' lingerie, and he treats her well, while one of his two sons, Gorgo, secretly falls in love and silently protects her.
But Cienfuegos has plenty of enemies out to get him for good - largely, because he won't condemn communism! - and Gorgo himself comes under continual attack. Fortunately he is as formidable as he is efficient as he is ruthless; unfortunately he's not the only target.
With one notable exception involving a full bowl of steaming noodles, Maria is a predominantly passive participant in events which take place around her, and - given the style of storytelling - a great deal does happen during these 136 pages. And remember, this is but the first of two volumes - do remember that, because I didn't! [Oh, the irony of it all - ed.]
The cartooning is, as ever, an immaculately clean and balanced black and white joy, the expressions are exquisite and the breasts, they are humungous. Nudity abounds.
You need know nothing of LOVE & ROCKETS but as an added bonus for those who do
. Here's Fantagraphics.
"Long-time LOVE & ROCKETS readers will find the storyline familiar... and that's because, in a meta twist, MARIA M is actually the B-movie film adaptation of the life story of Luba's mother Maria, as previously seen in its 'real' version in the classic graphic novel Poison River (available in the BEYOND PALOMAR collection) starring Maria's own daughter playing her own mother. Confused? Don't be! MARIA M will work perfectly on its own terms as the kind of violent, sexy pulp tale that Gilbert Hernandez has proven so adept at these past several years, and the 'source material' for the story will just provide an extra layer of delight for the cognoscenti."