Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Finding out how bizarre Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is

 For years upon years, I have heard of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. It is an incredibly long running and ridiculously influential manga about the generations of the Jostar family and their relentless battles against evil.

Well, I’m finally reading some of it.

I’ve been reading the seventh arc, Steel Ball Run. I chose Steel Ball Run for three reasons. First, it was a continuity reset so a good jumping on point. Two, at least in the United States, it is regarded as one of the best arcs. And, three, it’s what the library had.

If Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is known for one thing in particular, it’s for the concept of stands. Added in the third arc (so it took years to make it into the series), it’s basically the idea that you have an entity that you can manifest that has super powers. You can order it around but you’re still a squishy human being. So, it’s the basically Negative Man from the 60s Doom Patrol taken to nth level. 

And, at least by Steel Ball Run, stands were definitely getting bizarre. Have your fingernails spin and shoot off like bullets is a relatively mundane one. This isn’t Jojo’s Justice League. There’s a lot of both imagination and disturbed ideas in the stands.

Steel Ball Run is about a horse race across the United States 1890. Except that the race, which involved hundreds of riders, is actually the cover for a search for the parts of a mummified body that is very strongly implied to be Jesus Christ.

I can’t believe I typed that sentence and it wasn’t about a Call of Cthulhu campaign.

The Jojo of this generation is Johnny Jostar, a paraplegic jockey. After he got a hint of the weird mystic stuff that was going on, he joined the race hoping to find a way to walk again. And he is very much an anti-hero. I don’t mean an anti-hero like Wolverine or the Punisher. I mean like Willy Loman from the Death of a Salesman. 

I’m only a third of the way through the Steel Ball Run but I can see the appeal of the series. A high concept plot, profoundly weird powers and deeply flawed and struggling characters.

I do t know if I will read any other arcs of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (because there’s so much) but I want to see the end of the Steel Ball Run.

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