Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez - Love and Rockets: New Stories No. 5 (4 stars)

Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez - Love and Rockets: New Stories No. 5

The latest edition of the pioneering, punk-spirited, magic realist/sci-fi Latino soap opera

Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez’s pioneering, punk-spirited, magic realist/sci-fi Latino soap opera feels as fresh and idiosyncratic today as it did when it first appeared on the indie comics scene in 1982. So, it’s fitting that Fantagraphics’ year-long celebration to mark this Love and Rockets anniversary should kick off with a collection of new material.

New Stories No. 5 finds Jaime throwing avid L&R readers a curveball by sidestepping from his main character, Maggie (whose morphing relationship with boyfriend Ray dominated the last two collections), and instead picking up on Ray and Maggie’s ex. The aptly-named crazy stripper with mobster connections Frogmouth is here, as well as some new cast members to his fictional California setting Hoppers (aka Locus).

Meanwhile, Gilbert pretty much does the opposite with a story that presents a fictionalised ‘movie’ version of his fictional Central American milieu Palomar (how’s that for mind-blowing meta-narrative?!). There, the eponymous town’s busty, promiscuous mayor Luba is played by her half-sister Fritz, while also reintroducing ‘for real’ some class characters from the first decade of L&R.

Both Gilbert and Jaime’s leftfield storytelling moves illustrate just how detailed and involving their co-existing worlds have become during the three decades they have been creating comics (with some help from third brother Mario). Fantagraphics are also celebrating other aspects of this groundbreaking graphic series, with a collection of books to be released over the next 12 months such as Julio’s Day (Gilbert’s lost L&R graphic novel) and New Tales of Old Palomar.

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