March 27, 2006 | Trades
**** 1/2 (out of five)
Her eyes are wide and filled with wonder as she takes her first walk through Mexico City.
The stereotypical stranger in a strange land, Carla Olivares is filled with a hunger to discover both her roots and herself. If only she knew what kind of person she would be after one year in this sprawling third-world metropolis.
From the mind, and pen, of creator Jessica Abel (Artbabe) comes this long-awaited collection of the five-issue series originally published from 2001 to 2005.
Carla, an American whose Mexican father walked out on her family when she was just a girl, heads south of the border to try to connect to her forgotten heritage — and to run away from her Anglo one.
She moves in with Harry, a former fling named from back in Chicago now living there, and slowly starts to try to shed herself of her American skin. As her life with Harry sours, she makes two close Mexican friends, Memo — the leftist elitist — and Oscar — the pot-selling, pretty-boy DJ wannabe.
Immersing herself not-so-much in Mexican culture, but in the small, sometimes shady, world of her new friends, Carla goes through a roller-coaster of emotions as the two sides of her identity do battle.
But after Harry gets kidnapped, Carla’s idyllic Mexican façade comes crashing down and her perceptions of herself quickly go from blurry to black.
La Perdida is a true triumph. Abel’s thoughtfully constructed characters, authentic perceptions about Mexican life (based on her two years living there) and artistic flair add up to a near-perfect example of the term “graphic novel”.