The centerpiece of this volume is Jaime's masterful La Vida Loca: The Death of Speedy Oritz and focuses on the lives and loves of the Hoppers 13 barrio kids. Maggie, separated from Hopey, tries to once again find her emotional footing as passions and tempers flare around the issue of just who has the heart of her little sister Esther. Seeing two guys from two different gangs, Esther's romantic dalliances sets the Hoppers 13 crew on an irrevocable collision course with heartbreak and violence.
More profound and stirring than any other medium's study of gang culture without any of the dogmatic preachiness, Jaime's voice is strong and clear here as these poor-ass kids fuck and fight their way into early graves because they've been given no other option. Men too scared to back down and women too scared to say no grapple with assuring their own permanence on outmoded ideas of pride, honor and territory. And through it all, everyone just wants to be in love. Even while telegraphed from the title and cover of the book, the death of Speedy packs an emotional punch and resonance too rarely felt in comics.
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.