So Buddy and Lisa pack up and leave the hip, happenin' climes of Seattle just as the Grunge Thing starts happening and hot-foot it back to dull, not-happenin'-at-all New Jersey. On the way, Buddy decides to go into business with old pal and maybe-junkie Jay selling "collectibles" to moneyed hipsters, and Lisa becomes spookily cozy with Buddy's folks much to everyone's horror - Lisa and Buddy's folks included. We catch up with Babs, Buddy's hapless sister and her screaming two demon-spawn, as well as Butch, the youngest Bradley, freshly bounced from the Navy. The Bradley Family are all back, living in New Jersey, and screaming more than a groupie at an Aerosmith show.
And suddenly, HATE becomes a book where stuff, you know, happens.
What strikes me most about this volume are the scenes with Babs' kids, and how Buddy deals with them. Aside from being two-drops-of-pee-come-out-funny, I actually get physically exhausted reading their scenes. Bagge's so gifted at comedy that his abilities to tell stories and to create characters (beyond his universal instant-recognition-from-your-own-life characters) goes unnoticed. Here he nails these two dumb, screaming kids with such accuracy and, god help us all, familiarity that they grate like a goddamn migraine.
Whether it's Little Monster A grinding dog-shit into Lisa's hair, or Little Monster B playfully screaming in a park that Buddy's a child molester, Bagge makes you really, deeply, sincerely want to kill these little fuckers. You want to smack Babs for having had them, and smack her ex for being allowed to breed in the first place. You want the entire Bradley clan to undergo mandated sterilization. And you feel good about it.
Beyond the characters and plot developing into something you're startled to find that you care about, beyond the broad comic strokes like Buddy buying a monster truck or the detail gags like a Marvel Comics mug serving as an impromptu urinal, this volume of HATE could easily serve as an alternate method of birth control.
Don't be a Bradley! Pull out!
Matt Fraction splits his time between motion graphics and design house MK12, writing comics, and reading comics. He is the author of the graphic novels The Annotated Mantooth and Last of the Independents, both available from AiT/Planet Lar. He can be found on the web at mattfraction.com. His wife is hot.