Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Gilbert Hernandez

Contains Spoilers!

The genius creator behind the Palomar stories from Love & Rockets brings us an original graphic novel from Vertigo. Immediately in the story, we are introduced to Miguel Serra, who has just willed himself out a coma he willed himself into initially. He finds that he has a sort of living legend status among the townspeople, some of whom make fun of the teenager who moves much slower in wake of the year-long nap. Walking through life a little slower enhances experiences and hinders others, as he finds the people in his life react to him in different ways, some having changed, some not. Much of the conversations and events that occur through this book center around rock and roll and urban legends, one of which involves a Goat Man who haunts the nearby lemon orchards where many bodies are supposedly disposed of each year. This mysterious Goat Man, who wills people to trade places with him may or may not have something to do with the shift in chracters about halfway through the book. As Miguel slips into another dream, the scene abruptly switches to that of his girlfriend Lita awakening from a year-long coma, with the same guardians that Miguel originally had, and the characters from Miguel's existence partaking different roles than before, including Miguel himself who becomes a boy whom she admires but has never talked to preceding her coma. I'm sure the comparison to David Lynch's Mulholland Drive has been made before since the circumstances are quite the same and quite as disorienting, but it's also a very intriguing turn of events that really change how you look at some events from the beginning of the book, and how Lita is treated compared to the same circumstance occurring around a boy of the same age. Disturbing images are speckled throughout an extremely thought-provoking work, one of those few stories I feel compelled to go back to and re-read. Hernandez demonstrates his mastery of storytelling in a novel that makes him more accessible than ever to new readers, not to mention the beautiful artwork that graces his pages. I love the setting of the lemon orchard in this tale and the moment where Lita and Miguel discover something on a video they're watching is more chilling than anything I think I've ever read before. A must-read. A+

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