Hectic Planet: The Bummer Trilogy
This one-shot collects three love stories, previously printed in Dark Horse Presents #118-120: “5 Years and Counting”, “Shot on Goal”, and “Love You Madly, Elsie; or, Scumbag of Oz”. They’re modern takes on romance conventions. The stories turn on promising to meet five years after a separation; locking eyes with a mysterious stranger across a crowded dance floor; or finding an ex-boyfriend’s gift and trying to get back in touch with him.
As expected, the art is the usual Evan Dorkin style: dense, highly delineated with heavy black lines, confident, with panels crowded with both art and text. The characters are very expressive, overreacting just a bit to show you how strongly they’re feeling everything. Consideration was obviously paid to hair, clothes, and faces to establish a wide variety of characters, including aliens and robots. These glimpses of different technology give a slight science fiction feel, but the stories themselves are timeless.
The stories all end with creative twists, avoiding the obvious and bringing new insight to the situations. I wasn’t familiar with the characters or the Hectic Planet/Pirate Corp$ series before reading this, but the stories still worked well, since everything I needed to know was established in them. Love doesn’t mean being happy — as you might guess from the title, things don’t work out well for the characters — but I was impressed by the way the stories don’t descend into cynicism. There’s still hope, and there are lots of different kinds of love.
The characters previously appeared in three volumes:
- Dim Future collects Pirate Corp$! #1-4
- Checkered Past collects Pirate Corp$! Volume 2 #1-4 and Special
- The Young and the Reckless collects Hectic Planet #5-6 and Vroom Socko: Paid in Full
and the stories there take a different tack. They’re comedy adventures in a science fiction setting about a group of smugglers who run from bounty hunters while listening to ska music. They’re obviously early work from Dorkin, and over the run of the series the reader can watch his current style and skill develop.