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posted May 19, 2005
Fantagraphics, 24 pages, $3.50, 2005
As a longtime reader of Gilbert Hernandez's serials, I begin every new cycle of stories convinced that the cartoonist has gone too far in some direction to suit me and arrive at his sagas' conclusions wondering how he ever told earlier stories without including those same elements. Luba
#10 ends the series and brings us close to an end -- for now or for good I can't tell -- on the recent run of stories with much of Luba's family and a good portion of their friends and neighbors from Palomar having relocated to what I assume is Los Angeles. The newer stories have been very blunt about sex as both an end unto itself as a stake within relationships, and the characters have internalized some of the violence that was once visited upon the villagers of Palomar from outside the community or by some force invited in. The story refers to older works so often but so smoothly it's kind of surprising to count the references at the end; even the unseen event that dominates the last two pages has its roots all the way back in the first Heartbreak Soup story.
Of all the creators currently working near the top of their skill from the wave of alternative cartoonists for which the Hernandez Brothers paved the way, Gilbert Hernandez may have surpassed them all by creating comics that can't be easily divided into graphic "novels." It's more difficult for me to grasp the size of his accomplishment every time he adds onto it. I sure love the ride, though, the experience of capturing these moments every time Hernandez sets pen to paper, and I don't think there's ever been a greater cartooning talent in terms of what he brings the serial comic book form.