Writer/Artist: Tom Beland
Publisher: Image Comics
One read of the True Story Swear To God: Chances AreÖ TPB and I was hooked. Hooked I tell you to the world of Tom Beland (writer and artist of this series) and his Puerto Rican girlfriend Ms. Lily Garcia. I was more than happy to jump on board for even more stories of the duo as also Lilyís (and since his move by extension Tomís) family in and around San Juan. However, maybe it is just me but having gone through the first issue and comparing it to the first story, I found Chance AreÖ a much better read than this monthly format. The emotion, depth and life that came across after reading the almost 200 pages long TPB..., well, the monthly doesnít quite get to that level. Still, this is not to say that it is a bad read (the truth is exactly the opposite), but there is a certain momentum that starts to build up as one reads along, and in a monthly print, it comes to an end all too soon. Then again, this is the case with just about every monthly comic out there, and maybe this approach of mine is also of the main reasons why the "delays" that are fast becoming the norm (especially with the Big Two, DC and Marvel) are so putting off to me. "Oh, the reason we didnít bring out the story on time is that we value quality and donít want to do a rush job," or "oh, just see how many projects so-and-so is handling, delays are to expected." Please. Give. Me. A. Break. Comics as a medium have existed for the better part of a century without such excuses and delays, without all this tail-wagging-the-dog that goes on around these days.
Well, getting back to the issue at hand (and more importantly, to happier thoughts), one look at the cover and it isnít difficult to guess that this issue isnít going to be like the last one. While the last one had a smiling Tom and Lily on it, this one only has Lily, a "bald," smooth as a fresh golf ball, Lily. Like I said, not like the last issue. As for why and how this happens to occur, that is what the story is all about.
As Tom reveals, although having grown up Catholic, Lily, over time has learned about and adopted many teachings of the Buddhist faith. With a nice mix of tight yet light writing and snappy artwork, Tom sets up both how deep Lilyís beliefs are as also his own reactions to this part of her life. Although I am not much conversant with it myself, I myself have read (in my High School studies) about the life and times of Prince Siddhartha or as he came to be known after enlightenment, Gautama Buddha and the faith that he laid the foundation of. Even though at that time I would get confused between Buddhism and Jainism (another religious faith), there was one thing about Buddhism that always stayed, the "Middle Path." Without going into a sermon (not that I could with my negligible knowledge about it), let me just say the Middle Path is one interesting take on life and how it applies to the human condition.
Anyways, along with all this, after Lilyís faith and decision to shave her hair off is supported by Tom, one major player throws a mother-sized wrench in the works. To say that Lilliam Catala, Lilyís mother, isnít quite excited with her daughterís proposal would be an understatement. Starting by playing BIG momma, Lilliam goes through all the paces, ending up by threatening not to attend the millennium party Lilyís is organizing.
Anyone who has read the Chances AreÖ TPB will know that Lily and her motherís relationship is..., well, just like any other mother-daughter relationship in the way that they donít always quite get along. Readers of the TPB will also recognize and new readers will see that it is Tom who comes to the rescue. Playing the part of Mr. Knight in Shining Armor, (okay, without the whole armor bit) along with supporting Lily, Tom steps in this time, and in his own way shows Lilliam the light, the same light that soon reflects off the shaved smooth noggin of her daughter.
Conclusion: At the end of the day everyone is happy and, more importantly, together (especially at the party to welcome the new millennium) and even a crappy pants like myself ended this issue with a smile. A few more (timely) issues like this one and even I will be able to get off my high horse and get on with a monthly format for this story. Still, that was one killer TPB.
You can find more reviews by Bruce Logan at www.xcave.net.
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