The second installment of Mae’s (Too Cubed Unauthorized: Volume I, 2011) detailed saga of fictional band Too Cubed picks up where the first left off.
Newcomers to this series may have a hard time sorting out the enormous cast, and the lack of recap doesn’t make this a good series entry. Those familiar with the first volume, however, will find the Eight back in form, struggling to break out amid a beautifully drawn background of 1980s pop culture. Success brings all sorts of difficulties, including mob scenes at shows, banishment from clubs, groupies and an unfathomable amount of drugs and alcohol. But the Too Cubed boys weather it all, their faces continually turned toward better days as they learn the ins and outs of the music business. That optimism mutes the gravity of the heroin habits two of the band members develop and how it affects the band’s onstage performances; feeling the pain and seeing the conflict would bond the reader more closely to the various Too Cubed members. Mae knows the music industry and this musical scene, even without the intrusions that remind us that the narrator is a die-hard Too Cubed fan. This sensibility at times allows the author to spend too many pages and too much detail on the band’s shows and, sometimes, conversations that would be better served off the page. The scope and detail involved with this four-volume saga impresses, and the book ends with a signal that the band might be going through bass players the way Spinal Tap went through drummers. Amid the merry fun that Too Cubed carries wherever they go, however, is a truly chilling revelation about one of the band members, a character trait that casts an eerie glow over the band’s eventual demise.
Despite its weaknesses, it’s all but impossible to not close the back cover and immediately pick up the next installment.