Monday, August 31, 2020

52. Red Ketchup Integrale vol 3 (books 7-9)

7 Echec au King
This time Red Ketchup gets a new boss as his old is demoted after not being able to contain Red Ketchup.  The new boss is supposed to be one of the best, but it becomes clear quite quickly that he is too ambitious as he uses Red to get dirt on his superiors to gain more power.  He also is desperately in love with a fat trailer park woman and will do anything for her.  This is a theme we have seen a few times in Red Ketchup, the powerful man with the weakness for a woman far down on the social status.  Her thing is reading Amazing Facts, basically a News of the World tabloid and she uses her FBI boss lover to investigate the things she reads about (bigfoot, giant moles and eventually Elvis coming back from the dead).  He in turn sends Red to investigate who does so much damage that these fake stories start seeming real.  It all traces back to an alcoholic writer in the Florida Keys who is behind all the stories.  In some ways, this book is more his story and Red Ketchup is really just the catalyst, although there is also the grad student who comes down to interview the writer and the gallant next-door neighbour of the fat trailer park lady who seems vaguely familiar...

A lot goes on here.  This book reminded me a bit of one of the Parker stories where Parker is a vehicle for other character's narratives.  Come to think of it, you probably could do an interesting Parker/Red Ketchup comparison.  Echec au King doesn't capture the manic chaos of Red Ketchup at his best but it is still an entertaining story and another fun poke at American excess.

8 Red Ketchup en Enfer
(read May 12, 2020 during pandemic) This one was awesome, getting back to Red Ketchup stirring all kinds of shit up, this time literally in hell.  Red Ketchup dies saving some kids from a crazed cult leader in the bayou.  He takes an atomic bomb and runs with it on his back where it explodes.  He wakes up in hell, welcomed by the devil and all his demons.  Satan is so pleased to have Red Ketchup with him, he makes him the head of security for hell, where his extreme mania for order drives demons back to earth.  Meanwhile, Red's sister is sure he is calling to her and her search leads her to Dr. Beaudelaire Hyacinth, a Haitian professor of anthropology at the University of Montreal.   Dr. Hyacinth, it turns out, used to be a power voudou shaman but renounced his use of magic to study science.  Together the two of them head back to Haiti to try and find Red Ketchup and send the demons back to hell.  Even though we get classic Red Ketchup extremism, this is also just a really good story, well-structured and fun.  Dr. Hyacinth is an excellent side character, great NPC for anybody's modern occult campaign.
9 Élixir X
(read August 31, 2020, end of the pandemic summer) This final chapter (at least for now) in the Red Ketchup saga is an enjoyable story with some nice character development. However, it feels restrained and never achieves the chaos it sets up.  The main story centers on the insane Nazi doctor Otto Kunst who develops an elixir of life, which gets released into the public by his young model wife (who looks exactly like his true love the inflatable sex toy).  It makes people young, but also violently aggressive and addicted.  We really had the potential for some Red Ketchup mayhem but the storyline emphasizes Red Ketchup's attempt to find the assassins trying to kill his sister.  There are lots of nice touches and a pretty interesting development with the possibility of his sister becoming a second red ketchup.  A good read, but a bit mellow for Red Ketchup.

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