Maria’s Wedding

Written by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir
Drawn by Jose Garibaldi
88 pages, black and white
Published by Oni Press

While the last name may fool you, I grew up as part of a large Italian family. With my mother being the oldest of seven, it’s also fair to say that I’ve seen my share of Italian-American weddings. And, over the course of this year, my older sister has been planning her wedding for this October; the first of the eleven children of our generation to get married. So trust me when I say that Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir know exactly what they’re talking about in Maria’s Wedding.

One year ago, Joseph Pirelli managed to divide the Pirelli clan neatly in half by marrying his husband, Matthew Carter. Some relatives refused to come to the ceremony but attended the reception. Others didn’t even come and pretended that it never happened. And Joseph’s brother Frankie managed to get a lot of his relatives very angry at him by saying that the relatives who didn’t show up were “not important.” Now the Pirelli family is about to have their next wedding, as Frankie’s cousin Maria ties the knot. But the powder keg that is the Pirelli family resentment is still sizzling merrily away, just waiting to explode…

One of the two things I liked the most about Maria’s Wedding was how well it shows the reader the dynamics of the Pirelli family. Family ties are such an important part of Maria’s Wedding that you really need to understand just what’s going on with all of these relatives and how they interrelate. There’s a nice family tree on pages 2 and 3 which sketches out the absolute basics, but DeFilippis and Weir make sure to go much further than that in Maria’s Wedding. By the time the graphic novel ends, you can see where everyone’s lives are heading and even what decisions they’ll make an hour or a day later. They’re very well explored, here, and you can really understand why Frankie’s comments at Matthew and Joseph’s wedding was on the same level as throwing a stinkbomb into a series of peace-talks. What I think I appreciated more, though, was that the writers realistically avoid an unrealistic ending. There’s a strong resolution for several plot threads, yes, but everything isn’t neatly tied up with a big red bow on top. Life isn’t that simple, and DeFilippis and Weir avoid the movie cliché ending where everyone kisses and makes up. In the end, DeFilippis and Weir make sure that their characters are fully realized people, and that means taking the bad endings with the good.

This is the first extended work I’ve seen by artist Jose Garibaldi, and on the whole it’s a pleasant experience. There’s a nice sense of storytelling, with the action moving smoothly from one panel to the next. There’s a lot of material from DeFilippis and Weir that needs to get crammed into just 88 pages, and Garibaldi handles the challenge really well, keeping the pages from looking too crowded. The only real complaint is that in an effort to make the Pirelli clan have similar family traits, the first time through Maria’s Wedding I’d occasionally have to flip back to the family tree to figure out who was whom. It does say a lot that by the second read-through I had no problem identifying everyone; it’s sort of like going to an in-law family gathering for the very first time!

Maria’s Wedding eerily reminded me of a lot of things in my own life, especially with my sister’s wedding just months away and seeing some other potential family issues of my own unfolding, well, exactly how I’d imagine them. For those who have been part of a large Italian family (or any other similar extended family), Maria’s Wedding will just be like coming home. And for those who aren’t… well, there’s always room for one more.

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