Wes is a struggling rock and roll singer who can’t get a gig but figures that if he buys his own club, nobody can kick him off stage. In order to accomplish this task he enlists Nala, a ridiculously large-breasted grifter, to seduce his old pal Dewey, who happens to have $200,000 – enough for both Wes and Nala to walk away quite happy.
Unfortunately, Vincene walks out of Wes’ past and smack-dab in the middle of his con. It turns out she’s also had a past with Nala and threatens to blow the whole deal for both of them. Naturally, she wants Dewey’s money as well, and the whole thing ends up exploding in a mess of backstabbing, double-crossing and chicanery.
The Troublemakers is the second in a series of graphic novels adapting movies starring or co-starring Rosalba “Fritz” Martinez from the popular Love and Rockets series. An adaptation of a fictional movie starring a fictional character… I can totally dig that. Anyway, apparently the idea is that this woman has starred in a few B-movies. Well, Hernandez has totally captured the look and feel of a B-movie with this one. You’d swear that Roger Corman, Russ Meyer or Samuel Z. Arkoff had a hand in it somewhere… only it’s a whole lot prettier because the guy is a hell of an artist.
Hey, there’s a reason why these Hernandez brothers are so famous in the realm of comic books: They’re good! Or in this case Gilbert is, since Jaime and Mario don’t contribute to this book. Hernandez’s artwork leans more toward the simplistic or cartoony side, but it is filled with enough expression and nuance to give the story a lot of real feeling and emotion. The characters are all very distinct and memorable and the story keeps you intrigued from page one to 120. It actually feels like you’re watching a movie while reading it.
I didn’t see any glaring faults in this book, but I guess if you’re looking for a real hard-boiled crime story, you might find this one a bit light for your tastes. It’s sort of a medium-to-firm boiled book. Which is not to say there aren’t a whole lot of rough and tough events taking place from beginning to end, though; there’s some heavy dealings going on throughout and while it isn’t quite Ed Brubaker’s Criminal, it should scratch your itch if you dig crime stories.
I am ashamed to say that despite all the accolades heaped upon the Hernandez brothers and Love and Rockets, I have yet to read a lick of it. The Troublemakers, while only loosely connected with the series, was promised as a good introduction to Gilbert Hernandez’s work and I found myself agreeing with the critics: the man is a talented artist and can deliver a great story. I was especially pleased that, as someone who has watched more than their share of B-movies throughout life, Hernandez really seemed to get the feel down. One can imagine a young Quentin Tarantino taking in a Saturday afternoon viewing of The Troublemakers and being quite inspired.
Long story short: I dug it enough to give it a solid B rating. If you dig stories about people double-crossing each other for money and the double-crossers getting double-crossed by other folks who will inevitably be double-crossed in the end, you’ll probably dig this book too. You like gunfire, crime, exploitation flicks and enormous breasts? This book has all that too. Check it out.