The Complete Hate

Fantagraphics. Nov. 2020. 938p. ISBN 9781683963554. $119.99. Rated: Teen+. comics
This complete collection of Bagge’s (Fire!! The Zora Neale Hurston Story) seminal underground series, published from 1990 to 2011, opens with star Buddy Bradley as a shaggy-haired, flannel-clad, easily frustrated yet generally apathetic twentysomething living in Seattle. With his irrepressibly obnoxious pal Leonard at his side, Buddy explores the city’s pool halls, bars, used bookstores, and music scene, butts heads with eccentric roommates and deluded hipsters, and spars with girlfriend Valerie. Eventually, Buddy falls for Valerie’s moody, unpredictable roommate Lisa, and the pair head east to settle in suburban New Jersey. The change in setting and expanded cast of Buddy’s family members and neighbors allow Bagge to develop the scope of his satirical observations, which remain sharply incisive even as the humor becomes increasingly derived from interactions between his occasionally unlikable but thoroughly realized and deeply human characters. In fact, without ever losing the edgy hilarity dominant in the series’ early years, a genuine investment in Buddy and Lisa’s relationship animates the final third of this three-volume set, which finds the couple married and raising a child together.
VERDICT Bagge’s distinct vision of American life, conveyed through intense, exaggeratedly cartoony illustration and brilliant dialog, feel as revelatory and relevant as ever.
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