Revenge of roller derby, wrestlers and romance comics!
Compiled by IDW Publishing, Weird Love is a continuing collection of all those dreamy romance comics, both pre and post-Comics Code, that made girls’ hearts flutter and not-so-subtly tried to enforce societal norms on the masses, even up into the ’70s.
They’re simple, they’re swell, and they sure often end in someone getting drafted into the military. At least, two of the seven presented in Weird Love #19 do. Is it good?
I guess the lessons weren’t only for the women. Make the right decision, gents, and you too can be forcibly assigned to fight for your country!
That’s what most of these stories are about — making the right decision — and the first two follow the same basic pattern. In “The Brainless Type,” a farmgirl falls for a glamorous, handsome scientist (it’s from 1962, okay?), and he somehow reciprocates, until he’s led astray by a conniver of similar social and intellectual status. The protagonist of “Romance at the Roller Derby” takes the extra step of joining her beau in his profession, before a girl from the rival team tricks him into thinking she’s out to hurt her opponents.
The stories are oddly progressive in a way, with women kicking ass on the track and smoothing over labor relations. But of course, that’s not why the men end up loving them, and really, isn’t that all the accomplishment the gals could ever want?
“Wilfred Was My Darling” is even more feminist, in its own peculiar way, as it shows a woman can be just as shallow and dense as any man. Our hero, a lady wrestler, finds herself smitten with a dorky reporter when hurled on top of him from out of the ring. Things go swimmingly from there, until gender stereotypes insist she ask him to defend her in public, leading to broken glasses and cheerful emasculation. She ends up realizing that not everyone needs to fit a mold, except she jumps right into her own by giving up the grappling to be, in her words, “the best wife in the world”!
The next pair are cautionary tales straight out of Betty Crocker’s nightmares. Don’t be overneat, ladies, and for Pete’s sake, don’t turn your home into a “Henpeck House”! The last thing anyone wants is for you to turn into your stepmother!
Weird Love #19 concludes with two stories that live up to the title, including one where the guys who busts up smoochers at the local make-out spot is, yes, the hero of the tale. And I don’t even know what to say about “The Secret Heart,” which is narrated by a diary that witnesses its owner … well, go through the same tropes as the issue’s first couple chapters.
Clearly, you’re not going to find immaculate plotting, gallery-worthy artistry or even passable sequential storytelling in Weird Love #19, but that’s not what you’re here for. This is a ribbing tribute to one of the many dead-end trends in comics history, so it should be judged on how well it represents the genre and, in this case, if it’s curated in such a way as to provide sufficient variety and enough head-shaking chuckles.
Weird Love #19 succeeds in those goals, although the story beats and ultimate lessons tend to get repetitive. Then again, maybe that just goes to show how cookie-cutter and assembly line these stories really were, with only minor tweaks on the same morality plays, over and over again.
Either way, at $4.99 for almost 50 pages of content, it’s hard to go wrong, even if the ad in the back for Haunted Love seems a lot more interesting than the book you just read. I don’t know how IDW’s cranked out almost 20 issues of this, when one seems enough to get your giggle fix, but if more twisted romance is what you’re looking for, Weird Love #19 is your hook-up.