Monday, November 12, 2018

40. Red Ketchup l'Intégrale Volume 1

I enjoyed volume 2 of Red Ketchup (books 4-6) so much and in doing so realized that it had been quite a long time since I had read the previous volumes.  Furthermore, I wasn't even sure that I had read them all.  Fortunately, the local library had the first intégrale and so I took it out and spent the weekend reading it, to my renewed pleasure.

For reference's sake, the first 3 books here are not actually the first appearance of Red Ketchup.  There is a summary of his origin story but it's only four pages.  He first shows up in the pages of Michel Risque when it was serialized in Croc magazine (kind of a Mad magazine from Quebec, though I am probably not doing it justice).  He is a secondary character whose side story takes over a bit from the main Michel Risque storyline (these Michel Risque's are also really good and you should hunt them down as well).  I guess Red Ketchup was so popular that he had to be killed off and then given his own books.  There is a nice summary to be found here.

In the first story, La Vie en Rouge, Red Ketchup gets brought into the ancient society of Templars, who are working behind the scenes to get their conservative populist leader elected.  According to their mythology, Ketchup is the modern incarnation of the knight templar who saved their society from siege (in the tapestry and legend, he has the same white skin, red hair and eyes as our hero).  There is also an internal power struggle and Ketchup with his trademark manic destructiveness is the catalyst that makes everything exploded.  The underlying satire of American politics and conspiracy is strong and funny here.

Because he has caused so much damage, his FBI boss this time sends Red Ketchup to Antarctica to guard a research base there in the second book Kamarade Ultra.  Here he becomes obsessed with what he believes to be a penguin spy (and massacres an entire penguin colony with a machine gun) which leads him to the Soviet base, which he of course attacks.  Two great recurring characters are introduced here for the first time:  Olga Dynamo, Soviet super spy and Docteur Künt, Nazi mad doctor.  This latter is really my favourite, one of the better humourous portrayals of the evil Nazi doctor in hiding.  He lives with his wife Natasha and there is always a hilarious introductory scene with him returning to whatever domestic situation he is and talking to her before the reveal that she is a blow-up sex doll.  Just the movement of his hands cracks me up as well.  I shouldn't sleep on Olga either whose sexual "tension" with Ketchup is just dying for consummation.  Will we ever get it?

He shows up as the main antagonist in the third book Red Ketchup contre Red Ketchup where he creates a clone army of Red Ketchups.  His plan, financed by a bunch of other Nazis in hiding is to use them to sow chaos and then move in to the anarchic aftermath as super troops to establish the Fourth Reich.  It's all really good stuff.

Dr. Künt at home

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