Robot 6

Everybody’s talking about Jaime Hernandez and Love and Rockets: New Stories #4

Paying off thirty years of continuity and character development. Delivering shocks, gasps, cheers, and tears in equal measure, seemingly at the author’s whim. Offering a master class in everything from laying out a double-page spread to drawing clothes. Telling a story about beloved characters so emotionally engaging that even their most ardent fans wouldn’t mind if this were the last one ever told. Any way you slice it, Jaime Hernandez’s “The Love Bunglers” — his contribution to the recently released Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 and the conclusion to the already wildly acclaimed “The Love Bunglers”/”Browntown” suite from last year’s issue — is a hell of a comic. But you don’t have to take my word for it.

Dan Nadel, editor of The Comics Journal, has posted his own appreciation, and invited cartoonists Frank Santoro (Storeyville) and Adrian Tomine (Optic Nerve) to do the same. (SPOILER WARNINGS in effect at those links, folks.) Nadel (like Jordan Crane on the first part of Jaime’s tale in issue #3 before him) minces no words: “This is not just Jaime’s finest work, but one of the best (at this moment I’d rank it in my top five of all time) works ever created in the medium.” Santoro calls Jaime “the greatest cartoonist of all time,” saying “No art moves me the way the work of Jaime Hernandez moves me.” Tomine talks of picking the issue up at a signing event for Jaime and being so moved by a two-page spread he encountered while randomly flipping through that he actually had to leave.

I posted my review at the beginning of August, after the book had started circulating at cons but long before it hit stores, but weeks and even months later people would still post comments on the review, like they’d been hungrily seeking out anything anyone had written about this remarkable comic. I’ve got a feeling that as more and more critics read this comic, they’ll never go hungry again.

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8 Comments

No hyperbole Jaime’s latest is THE best story I have ever read. Better than anything I have read from Ware, Seth, Gilbert, Clowes, Tomine, or anyone. Seriously if you’ve never read his stuff, go pick up the cheaper Jaime only collections and devour them. It may start out awkward with the whole Sci-Fi angle, but wow does it get good.

I had fallen behind on L&R since they switched formats with this series. I also haven’t bought a paper comic in ages. Somehow, this book called to me the last time I was in the comic shop. It was by far the best thing I’ve read by anyone in years. It’s Jamie’s finest work for sure, although it would have been impossible without the emotional force of the last 30 years of Maggie stories behind it.

Needless to say, I’m all caught up on my L&R reading, and won’t be falling behind again.

The last two issues of NEW STORIES have been incomparably good. It’s almost like Jaime is working in a different medium than everybody else. Superb storytelling, design, “acting” and dialogue all around make for a transporting experience. Very excited to see what corner of his fictional universe Jaime digs into next.

I wish we could could force-feed Jaime’s work to all the artists and writers at DC and Marvel.

Picture Hernandez shaking Jim Lee, Brian Bendis, and their clones by the throat: “Wake up! Comics can be this good!”

Would very much like to read this, but I’m totally unfamiliar with the Love & Rockets canon (I’ll be frank, they’re so prolific it’s intimidating). I get that the payoff will be blunted a little if I read Love Bunglers now. Should I go for it anyway? Then go back and pick up the collections from Fantagraphics?

I’ve been thinking about that very question, Mike. And you’re right, you’d lose some of the impact. It’s a dilemma. If I were you I suppose I’d check out the first digests — Maggie the Mechanic for Jaime’s stuff, Heartbreak Soup for Gilbert’s. But I do think that you can get something out of Jaime’s work in both New Stories #3 and #4 without knowing everything that came before. It’s still easy enough to put together a context for what happens, and the way it’s depicted is powerful and innovative enough on its own.

R.J.: I’m hoping for “Whatever Happened to Terry Downe?”

@Sean

I thought we got a decent update on Terry in JH’s “Education of Hopey Glass” arc? Hey are you on twitter? Hit me up at @RJRHQ

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