At this point in his career, there's not much left for Anthony Bourdain to do. He's hosted television shows, acted as guest judge on others, written bestselling memoirs and novels, and has perfected the art of Tweeting. It seemed the only things left on the Bourdain bucket list would be to own a personal pig farm and write a comic book.
Enter Get Jiro (Vertigo, $24.99). This hardcover graphic novel (comic book) has Bourdain collaborating with author Joel Rose and DC Comics illustrator Langdon Foss to create the story of a futuristic Los Angeles.
In Bourdain's mind, we've become "A world dominated by food culture. Little else is going on. Sports, film, the recording industry have all fragmented and died. The nation is in the business of producing and selling each other cheeseburgers. Chefs are the new power. All desire is based on access to them."
In this new vision of the apocalypse, Los Angeles is ruled by two chef
warlords with two very different philosophies. Bob is the giant
corporate chef, trained in classic French culinary techniques. He's out
for a buck. Rose is the mother earth type -- who just happens to feed
her enemies to her free-range pigs. Her restaurant, The Farm, is all
about organic farm-to-table cuisine. Both are really bad people.
tortured hero doesn't wear a mask, but he's got some crazy knife
skills. Jiro has a little sushi shop on the other side of the
tracks...literally. He take great skill in his work, which also gets the
attention of the two leaders. Each wants Jiro on their side...for now.
by the way, is no angel. He decapitates a man for dunking his sushi in
soy sauce and wasabi. He frequents a massage parlor that specializes in
happy endings. God forbid you ask him for a California roll.
story line is weak and there's really not much of an ending. It's like everyone got together and thought of these great
characters...and forgot that you have to take them somewhere. But the
illustrations are beautiful and savvy culinary fans will have fun
picking out which flesh-and-blood chefs these comic characters are
fashioned after (Is Rose really Alice Waters? Jean-Claude certainly looks a lot
like Jose Andres, doesn't he?).
The story gets a little preachy
about how vegans are evil sell-outs and Bourdain missed an opportunity
here to really make this a classic parody on how chefs have become gods
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that are worshiped. We're also not sure how LA got so bad - war, maybe? Why is Jiro the ultimate god of sushi? Why is the Mexican taco street vendor putting shredded Jack in his tacos? But, even with all the holes in the story, Get Jiro is an interesting (and extremely gory)
comic and an essential collector's piece for your Bourdain library.