While I have always admired Jaime Hernandez' art and was familiar with the characters from his stories in Love and Rockets, I had never actually read any of the stories featuring his creations Maggie, Hopey, Rand Race, Rena Titanon, and Penny Century. Reading MAGGIE THE MECHANIC, the first volume in an all-new 25th anniversary series of chronological reprints, I can say that it's probably a good thing I waited to try these stories as an adult, as they wouldn't have mixed well with the hardcore super-heroics I was crazy for as a teenager back in the mid-eighties. But that's okay: MAGGIE THE MECHANIC has turned me into a fan of the Love and Rockets stories, and I will certainly pick up further volumes.
This is a 272-page, very affordable collection, not printed on the cheap newsprint of Marvel's Essentials or DC's Showcase Presents, but on a thicker, white paper. As a result, the artwork is crisp and clear, and with thick matte cardstock covers, the entire collection is of high quality and very stylish.
These are the earliest of Hernandez' L&R stories, and it seems that they initially have no clear focus. You just never know where each chapter is going to end up, but it works too well to be mere chance. Sci-fi, heroic fantasy, punk, Latino culture, and slapstick are all deftly combined in an approach that, while it could be considered improvisational, is in no way amateurish. I can't wait to continue with the adventures of these well-defined characters and their all-too-familiar problems. It seems odd that I would find any familiarity with characters that interact with dinosaurs and rocket ships, but that's what makes these stories so masterful. Included here are everything from one-page strips to extended tales such as "Las Mujeres Perdidas".
Oh yes, be sure to check out the companion volume HEARTBREAK SOUP, the first volume of Palomar stories from L&R by Jaime's brother Gilbert Hernandez.