Love and Rockets #16 (March 1986)

Love and Rockets #16

I finally get my Carmen issue. Only not really.

Carmen and Heraclio do get the cover, but the story ends up sticking more with him. It’s a slice of life bit, with Beto exploring their married day-to-day.

Before I forget–the giant statue head makes another appearance on the outskirts of town–it’s interesting how Beto is visually incorporating it without ever making it part of the story.

So Carmen is mad at Heraclio because he reads for pleasure and Carmen doesn’t. He had to teach her after all. Then Beto sticks with Heraclio and his work day, where he has a fetching female coworker who also reads for pleasure (and gives him a ride home). Then Heraclio defends Luba to Carmen in front of Tontazin, resulting in Carmen kicking Heraclio out. He gets drunk and ends up on Luba’s couch, with Beto going into their history.

It’s a good story and really sweet at times, but it’s still not the freaking Carmen story. Just one Carmen story. I don’t get it.

And then Jaime’s got a really serious Rena, Maggie, and Vicki story. Rena’s back to wrestling–so it’s the “newest” story in the Locas universe. Maggie is going to see her fight, Vicki’s also fighting that night. There’s a lot of history drug up by both fighters, with Maggie in the middle.

Then there’s backstory for Rena–revelatory backstory details, actually, which change her in Maggie’s estimation as well as the reader’s. Not so sure about that move. Jaime’s very confident, which is great–Izzy and Hopey appear in a cameo, so do Tontazin and Vincente from Palomar (Maggie guested in this issue’s story too–the crossovers are single panels, outside the story). It’s ambitious, it’s beautifully realized, it’s a little too much.

It’s a thirteen page story and it’s basically all just to do a reveal on Rena. It ends on the big reveal. It’s perfectly well-done, but mercenary. Jaime never lets loose. Rena and Maggie are too big to share a story in this way.

Then Beto’s got a great three and a half page “true story” wrestling strip. It’s fun and strange. Beto’s real life stories are always a little strange because they don’t fit with the Palomar tone.

And then Jaime finishes the book with a half page, eight panel strip about dinosaurs. Sitcom comic strip stuff. It’s fine. But it’s kind of unexpected. After the finished quality of both features, Los Bros end on a “fun filler” note. It’s good and it’s fine and all but then you remember that Rena story wasn’t as good as it should’ve been.

This issue–#16–might be the least interesting in the series so far. It’s still outstanding and expert, but it’s also within existing constraints. Beto and Jaime’s ambitions here are familiar ones. They accomplish them, but they’ve accomblished the same things before.

Barbarella #6 (May 2018)

Barbarella #6

It’s another good issue. Because Barbarella’s always good. It’s so good Carey can get away with spending half (but sort of most) of the issue with the evil prospector family. Mostly the evil prospector, whose dead wife is now digital and lives inside his gun.

So Carey and Yarar are doing that weird side of the story–the futuristic rustic prospecting family–while Barbarella and the scientist dude are stuck in another dimension. Their side of the story is mostly action. When it’s not action, it’s only because the book’s pausing for a big panel establishing shot. Otherwise Yarar’s always keeping it moving.

He’ll do multiple panels of the same scene, from different angles (sometimes the same angle again later), and the story just flows between them. Much like how Carey’s script is nimble enough for humor even when it’s all propelling the plot forward, Yarar’s got the right movement and detail to do the same. It’s so good. Like, the thing about Barbarella is it doesn’t need to be so good but it’s always exceptional. Superior comics creating going on here.

And an amazing cliffhanger. Can’t wait for next issue.


Hard Labor, Part Two: Rust Never Sleeps; writer, Mike Carey; artist, Kenan Yarar; colorist, Mohan; letterer, Crank!; consulting editor, Jean-Marc Lofficier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Comics Fondle Podcast | Episode 46

Only a month since the last episode! Back on track?

Floppies – Isola, Flavor, Death or Glory, Maestro, Lazarus, Barrier, Black Hammer Age of Doom, Doctor Star, Ether The Copper Golems, Infinity 8, Highest House, Barbarella, Jimmys Bastards, Exit Stage Left Snagglepuss, Batman White Knight, Damned, Punks Not Dead, Assassinistas, Love and Rockets.

Trades – Sherlock Frankenstein, Young Frances, The Troublemakers.

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Barrier #4 (March 2017 / May 2018)

Barrier #4

They get to talk again. The aliens dump them in a different area of the ship where there are other aliens and those aliens are mean.

Barrier doesn’t refer to language barrier, does it?

The issue delves into Oscar’s back story, undoubtedly much more if you can read Spanish, but there’s still some discernible information if you don’t. His family’s in Los Angeles, so he’s going to Los Angeles. The people in his hometown make fun of him since he doesn’t speak any English.

Barrier indeed.

The Texas comes out in Liddy at just the right time–though she’s barefoot in this alien forest, I find it hard to believe the grass is all nice and soft and not tearing up her feet considering there are starfish monsters around.

It’s okay. It reads in about three minutes, which is fine when you’re a “pay what you want” e-comic and not a four dollar floppy.


Writer, Brian K. Vaughan; artist, Marcos Martin; colorist, Muntsa Vicente; publisher, Panel Syndicate (2016) / Image Comics (2018).

Barrier #3 (December 2016 / May 2018)

Barrier #3

The aliens speaking makes human ears bleed to the point of deafness. Blows the ear drums? So now Liddy and Oscar can’t talk to each other. They just have to communicate with body language and expression. Or Liddy just takes Oscar’s stuff because… she can?

There’s some “character development” like the revelation Liddy’s husband was (maybe) murdered. And we find out why Oscar wants his red notebook so bad. And the aliens don’t like fire. Maybe not personally, but their ship’s sprinkler system is all kinds of crazy.

So there’s no talking in the book, just visuals. There’s a little bit more of a visual tempo than last issue but nothing compared to the first. Martin’s alien ship designs aren’t very interesting. The ship’s empty. Martin does well with little details. The ship doesn’t have any.

Clearly the creators are invested–at least Martin anyway (he’s drawing a lot), it’s hard to imagine the script was longer than a couple pages unless Vaughan writes Moore style–but the result is fairly underwhelming. There have been far better “silent” comic books; it isn’t even ambitious.


Writer, Brian K. Vaughan; artist, Marcos Martin; colorist, Muntsa Vicente; publisher, Panel Syndicate (2016) / Image Comics (2018).

Barrier #2 (September 2016 / May 2018)

Barrier #2

So pretty much everything I liked in Barrier #1 is gone in Barrier #2. The issue opens at NORAD, with a couple officers talking in acronyms about how they’re not going to report a UFO even though they saw a UFO.

Close Encounters it ain’t.

Independence Day it ain’t even.

Vaughan thinks the acronym-heavy banter is enough to get through the scene. Can’t understand them, just like English readers can’t understand Oscar’s Spanish dialogue. The difference is Spanish is a real language and one assumes Vaughan is making up UFO acronym speak.

Then it’s back to the leads, who are now in space (or at least on an alien spaceship). They find each other, they fight, they bond, the aliens separate them. Yawn.

All of Martin’s visual pacing from the first issue is gone. There are War of the Worlds nods, Alien nods, probably other things, but it doesn’t make up for flow.

Oh, and it’s not Liddy’s daddy whose ranch she ranches, it’s her dead husband’s. Martin’s shockingly bad at drawing her face, by the way. He doesn’t have any depth to her features (most of the time). Same thing last issue but the visual pace made up for it.

No glorious visual pace here; nothing to make up for it.


Writer, Brian K. Vaughan; artist, Marcos Martin; colorist, Muntsa Vicente; publisher, Panel Syndicate (2016) / Image Comics (2018).

Barrier #1 (November 2015 / May 2018)


As a visual piece, Barrier #1 is all kinds of awesome. Marcos Martin’s pacing is sublime; the comic is “widescreen”–or landscape–with Martin sometimes using the whole page, sometimes filling it with as many panels as possible, sometimes splitting a single “shot” into panels. The visual reading experience is sublime.

The script? Eh.

Barrier is from late 2015. It’s creator-owned, originally digital. So far, politically-speaking, it dates poorly. Though, frankly, some of those questionable characterizations were always going to be questionable.

The first issue is an introduction to the main characters, Liddy and Oscar. Liddy is a Texan rancher, ranching her daddy’s place no doubt because tropes, and she’s having problems with a drug gang. She thinks. It’s unclear.

Oscar is from Honduras. He’s sneaking into the States, onto Liddy’s land eventually, and his entire story is in Spanish. No translation. Its success is–like the comic–a showcase for Martin’s art.

The stuff with Liddy getting drunk and maybe hiring an ex-military type to “deal with” her problem? Not so successful.

Of course, given how the issue ends, it’s entirely possible nothing this issue is going to matter.


Writer, Brian K. Vaughan; artist, Marcos Martin; colorist, Muntsa Vicente; publisher, Panel Syndicate (2015) / Image Comics (2018).

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #2 (May 2018)

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #2

Black Hammer goes Vertigo. At least Lucy’s half of the comic. Not only does she go Vertigo and to Hell, she meets a former costumed hero-type who’s now in Hell as well. Lots of almost rhyming, sorry.

Wasn’t a former hero type in Hell a Swamp Thing plot point back in the day?

Lucy’s story is kind of an odyssey, but only after she gets sent to Hell, and only taking the cliffhanger into account. Otherwise, she’s just become a superhero–moments earlier–and is now on a crappy first adventure. With a lot of talking and not much of it relating to the Black Hammer story.

Meanwhile, back on the farm, it’s a Barbalien and Gail issue. They go to the library to investigate the empty books Lucy found last series. They’re in for a surprise. There’s also the moment when Gail tells Barbalien about an illicit romance… which got introduced in one of the spin-off books and really doesn’t have any emotional impact here.

It’s kind of concerning. But it’s also Ormston art and Black Hammer Prime has miles of goodwill to burn through. It doesn’t really burn any here, just implies it might.

Fingers crossed Lemire’s got some plans. Right now, it doesn’t seem like he’s got any plans.


Writer, Jeff Lemire; artist, Dean Ormston; colorist, Dave Stewart; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Brett Israel and Daniel Chabon; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Assassinistas #5 (April 2018)

Assassinistas #5

Beto’s a trooper on Assassinistas. He’s getting it done, but not with much visual enthusiasm. The moving figures–and there are a lot of moving figures–are all too similar and all too static.

Otherwise, of course, it’s a perfectly solid comic. Beto’s talking heads stuff is great. It’s a showdown issue (of sorts); between action beats, there’s talking heads. So it works. Talking heads isn’t just close ups, it’s also medium shots. Basically anything without too much action, Beto’s got covered.

Howard’s reliance on the word “baby”–whether it’s Octavia calling Dominic baby or Dominic calling Taylor baby–it’s a lot of “babies.” Too many. It feels like filler.

Next issue seems like it’s going to wrap up this arc (or this series) and Howard finishes the issue in a good place. Some surprises, big and small, often funny.

The villain’s plan is a little suspect (and, frankly, reminds me of Identity Crisis, which nothing should ever remind someone of) and counter to when Howard has a great line from the villain to a mansplaining Taylor.

It seems, at this point, whatever the ending Assassinistas will be fine.


Pack Some Heat With That Lunch!; writer, Tini Howard; artist, Gilbert Hernandez; colorists, Rob Davis and Robin Henley; letterer, Aditya Bidikar; editor, Shelly Bond; publisher, IDW Publishing.

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