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The Hernandez Brothers Explore Movies, Wrestling and Family in Love and Rockets New Stories #6

The Hernandez Brothers Explore Movies, Wrestling and Family in Love and Rockets New Stories #6


When reading Love and Rockets New Stories #6, imagine two great musicians trading solos on an album. One musician is about precision, playing a complex, varied but controlled melody. The other one, his brother, is the wild one, long ago giving up on creating music that everyone thought he should and going off in his own directions. Seperately, both musicians create masterpieces within their own little worlds but put them together on the same album, where their pieces play off each other, and you get something special. That’s what Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez are doing in Love and Rockets New Stories #6. Whether intentionally or not, their 25 short pieces in this 100 page book buzz through your brain, highlighting just how different the two brothers are. But pay close enough attention and you start to see the patterns form. Family, history, disappointment and the hope of reconciliation. As the two brothers walk down their own, narrative paths, those paths intersect in interesting ways in the latest installment of Love and Rockets.

Within their own little worlds, there are similar paths that each of Los. Bros. Hernandez find inspiration in. As Gilbert tries to distance himself from his fabled fictional town of Palomar, he can’t get away from those characters. Dora “Killer” Rivera, a movie star and celebrity, is still a child of Palomar even if she is a generation or two removed from that town. The spectre of her great-grandmother (see Gilbert’s recently released Maria M. for more on her) and the presence of Luba, one of Gilbert’s most commanding characters, creates an impression of a legacy that Killer thinks she needs to follow. That legacy is one with a distinct lack of love in the lives of those two women who Killer thinks she needs to emulate. She sees the mystery, the excitement and the drama of her grandmother and great-grandmother’s lives but doesn’t realize the high cost that both women paid. Luckily for her, the type of nurturing, familial love that neither of those women were able to experience envelops and protects Killer. She may not realize it but she can’t be like these two women that she idealizes because she actually has a family which loves her.


For whatever reasons or coincidences, Jaime’s stories are about family as well but while Gilbert is trying to wistfully meditate on family, Jaime’s story tears it apart with the murder of a father, allegedly orchestrated by a mother. There’s actually a couple of tracks to his story, all of which revolves around Tonta, the second youngest daughter of the parents in question. In one branch of the story, Tonta gets to know her school’s new P.E. teacher, Angel Rivera (no relation to Killer.) When she’s not a gym teacher, Angel is a luchador wrestler, giving Jaime an opportunity to draw real wrestling in that lovely dance-like way that he does. The other half of the story involves her half brother and half sisters trying to deal with the idea that their mother may have killed her latest husband, Tonta’s father.

The brothers tell their stories in small, interspersed chunks throughout the 100 pages. It’s the format that they’ve been using for the past few years but in this latest volume, there’s a connective energy between their parts that hasn’t been present before. Killer and Tonta, the two main characters in Jaime and Gilbert’s stories have little in common except for a cruel misunderstanding of their families. As their stories cross and intersect as the brothers trade off pages, the brothers develop a musical rhythm that wraps up the reader and pulls them into the stories. Both brothers have highs and lows in their tales of these families that play beautifully off of each other’s stories and build into a whole lovely comic book experience.


Eventually with the way that these things work, Jaime and Gilbert’s stories will get collected into individual books, separating one brother’s work from the other. While Jaime and Gilbert’s stories will probably gain a unifying completeness to them, they’ll lose the joyful interplay between two cartoonists. Those unseen bonds between Tonta and Killer will be gone and their family stories will become just that; their own, individual family stories as opposed to the grand canvas that is Love and Rockets New Stories #6. Jaime’s story will simply be about a family torn apart by murder and Gilbert’s will be about a daughter mythologizing her ancestors. So the end of both stories, after both brothers have dragged us through emotional minefields, give a strange glimmer of hope for both girls and for the worlds of Love and Rockets. We see both Tonta and Killer in moments of connectedness with their families, neither of which are really happening in the present, that give some hope that life won’t always be as broken is it maybe now.