An American in Palomar wraps up this issue and it’s not really like the first installment at all. Beto still has some stuff from the American photographer’s perspective, but it’s much more a regular Palomar story. There’s no more supernatural implications. It just doesn’t come up again.
Instead, it’s about how Carmen, Tonantzín, and Luba deal with the reality of the American’s intentions. Carmen not because she’s involved but because she’s got to get involved. Luba and Tonantzín get the biggest scenes, though Augustín finally gets something to do besides hang around. There’s even some nice character development (for everyone except the American).
The story also implies the third person narrator is very close to Carmen. Both through the actual narration and how Beto focuses on Carmen for a reaction shot. So I’ve been feeling like she hasn’t been a part of the series enough since the jump ahead, but maybe she’s always present. Makes sense.
There’s some excellent art, with Beto exploring Palomar visually without breaking from the story. It’s a great finish, just entirely different from where Beto seemed to be taking it last issue.
Then Jaime gets the rest of the issue. First up is Locas, with Maggie and Hopey still stuck at Izzy’s, though trying to get out. Maggie kind of considers going back to a garage–just no longer interested in a prosolar future.
It’s only a five page story. Much of it involves Izzy promising Maggie a car if she can fix it. Then Maggie trying to get to Hopey’s show and her setbacks.
There’s more with the band than usual and more with Hopey interacting with her bandmates alone. They’ve had group scenes before and Hopey took Maggie around recently, but Hopey’s now got scenes to herself. Well, with other characters, but without Maggie and without a group. Jaime’s getting more comfortable giving Hopey time; Locas does just fine without the glamour and adventure of Mechanics.
Lots of blacks from Jaime (but not always silhouettes), some comic strip sensibilities, and some character development. Just what a five page story ought to do.
Then Jaime’s got a nine page Rena story. Tse Tse shows up for a bit, but most of it is a flashback telling the story of one of Rena’s wrestling friends. Duke makes a cameo and even Bernie Carbo, though Jaime’s not ready to tell that story (the one he hinted about ten issues ago). Instead, it’s about this other wrestler and Rena.
Rena’s such a strong protagonist. It’s only her second strip to herself–and the previous one was a one pager–and she’s fantastic. A lot of the time Jaime just has other characters talking about an off-page Rena; he always gets Rena caught up once she appears, recentered, once again the obvious protagonist of the story.
It’s a sad, scary, funny, tragic story. The finale sort of cliffhangs, but more just promises more Rena stories.
Love and Rockets #14 is another fine issue. Beto wins with the American in Palomar, but Jaime launching Rena in her own strip so successfully is no small potatoes. Even though the Locas is technically the least impressive story, it’s still damn great comics. It couldn’t be anything but.