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God And Science: Return Of The Ti-Girls
posted July 2, 2012
 

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Creator: Jaime Hernandez
Publishing Information: Fantagraphics, hardcover, 144 pages, July 2012, $19.99.
Ordering Numbers: 9781606995396 (ISBN13)

Because Jaime Hernandez made the most affecting alternative comic of the last dozen or so years in the last two issues of Love and Rockets: New Stories, we forget he spent the first two issues of that title giving us one of the best superhero comics of that same time period. God And Science: Return Of The Ti-Girls picks up on certain superhero elements of the earliest Jaime Hernandez stories that have only been referred to a few times in recent years. As was the case back then, there's no real attempt to create an imaginary story framework or to suggest the whole thing happened in a dream or, really, to explain where the story comes from at all. The "logic" of God And Science and the orientation of the reader to its reality doesn't matter; the story does. I assume there are fans for whom this is deeply unsatisfying, even a cheat. To each their own, but I don't want to spend any significant time in a car with that kind of person.

imageThat this is beautifully and evocatively drawn, full of fun action set pieces and two or three grandly emotional and cathartic moments, that shouldn't surprise anyone at this point. It's Jaime Hernandez. Where God And Science exceeds expectations is in it being a cracking superhero story on a lot of levels that you wouldn't think Hernandez has any interest in exploring. There's a foregrounded semi-satirical surface framework that's as good as any that's carried an Image superhero title (overlapping female superhero teams with class and celebrity-culture connotations) and a background mythology that's better (women gain superpowers on their own while with guys it happens accidentally; there are comic books that communicate this part of reality to those with some remnant of this special gift). The plot of God And Science pulls together various non-Maggie minor Hernandez female leads (Angel, Xo, Rocky, Mini Rivero) and connects them through current or past membership in a high-integrity, low-glamour superhero group. The big villain is a mega-powered Penny Century, overcome by grief because of separation from her children, but a good half-dozen opponents for team members are folded gracefully into the story. The basic intertwining plots are the Penny Century situation and Angel's voyage of discovery in grappling with her desire and her (relatively modest) ability to do some superhero-ing. It's only when you try to unpack the story that you realize what a graceful and economical storyteller Jaime Hernandez has become no matter what genre he might choose to utilize. The Mini Rivero storyline, which is about 11th in importance were one to rank the various narrative threads, seems to have more raw material fueling its pages than entire event comics mini-series from the Big Two might offer anymore.

It's also fun. I mean, come on, Santa Claus makes a cameo. There are evil twins, and tiny aliens, and an arm wrestling contest, and police telling each other that a certain superhero does not officially exist, and two older superhero ladies talking about old times: God And Science just works as a summer book, a big comic with inner consistency and a friendly demeanor which to curl up on a late afternoon when the temperature drops just enough you can sit outside with a beverage. It's a beautifully produced volume, a big chunk of story and you can probably find it for less than $15 if you poke around. Unless I'm blind to something naughty, God And Science is pretty close to being all-ages, too. It's massively tweaked for this collection, both in added pages and I swear the order of some sequences; I think it reads much better in this version, and not just because more Jaime Hernandez is as a rule preferable to less Jaime Hernandez. I really enjoyed myself with this one.

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