It's not all Incal-verse science fiction in the Jodorowsky catalog, no matter what Jog tells you! This is a guy who tested the limits of what kind of genres he could use to write about incest fetishes, and he came away satisfied, one hopes, because...well. I don't know how much further down you want to go with that one. Anyway, that's enough of an introduction, right? This ain't The Incal, this ain't no Metabarons, and no, Technopriests is later. This is the story of Juan Solo, the baby who was found in a garbage heap by a transvestite dwarf prostitute, given a pistol to suck on like a pacifier...or, you know, something else that's got a long phallic end...and who grew up to be the risen Christ by way of South American crime.
Son Of The
Hold on for a second! I forgot something. He's also got a prehensile tail. Okay, you can start now.
Son Of The Gun #1-2, Sinner & Saint
Written by Alejandro Jodorowsky
Art by Georges Bess
Translated by Justin Kelly
Okay, Jodorowsky, I'm with you. This is the story of a boy who grew up wrong and went on to become a bearded, thorned crown wearing crucified type. You're not really taking on The Greatest Story Ever Told, are you? I've seen that movie. (Technically, I haven't seen THAT movie, who actually watches that movie?) Georges Bess is great, don't get me wrong, but you're not really going to try and outdo the Lord our God, right?
Don't worry. Don't fret your head for a second. If there's one thing Jodorowsky isn't going to do, it's the story of the Son of God. The crucificixation here, that's just a framing story, it's just the everybody-does-this-now show the end at the beginning, then work your way towards it. It's a bookend piece, and the rest of the story--how a baby with a gun in his mouth ended up making his way to a cross in the desert with a crown of thorns--that's the story that Jodorowsky and Bess tell with Son of the Gun. Now, it does have a direct reference game it plays, but it's one that predates the New Testament a bit. Oedipus. Which means....
I'm not going to spend too much time analyzing this little chapter of Jodorowsky's obsessions, mostly because I can't even fathom what exactly you're supposed to say about it. Analyze no, but address? No choice. Jodorowsky often has characters with weird relationships with their mothers, sometimes it goes so far as to include the characters having sex with their mothers, sometimes it's just something they want to do, sometimes it's more tangled up in the mother forcing the son through whatever degradation their control over their sons allow--but it comes up a lot. Sometimes, like in Son Of The Gun, it comes up in some pretty randy sex scenes that stop short of showing penetration, but still go a bit further then an R-rated flick would probably allow. The question seems to be, since Jodorowsky likes showing it so much, if it's really necessary to the stories themselves, or if it's just there because, well, Dude Likes It When Sons Bang Their Mom. Because really, you know--we're not talking about one single story at a time, we're talking about a healthy swath of Jodo-stuff here. Science fiction..with incest! Hardcore crime parables...with incest! Boy's pulp fanatasy adventure...with incest!
I'm pretty accepting with my comics intake when it comes to what you should or shouldn't do--I'm not going to throw down a comic just because there's animal torture or child molestation simply because, by some made-up "principle" that it's there, and That's Not Okay. I mean--who cares, you know? Just a comic. But when it comes up so frequently across the library, you start to question "Do we really need this much mom-banging?"
In the story of Juan Solo, yes, you do. Hey, it may be icky--although Georges Bess is going to draw it in such a way that yes, it's very, very erotic and very, very understandable--but it's a huge part of the story. Question is...is this is a good story anyway?
That one is a bit tougher.
Juan's life is your standard young and angry orphan with a grudge type stuff. Here, in he's just finished raping a girl who he's now passing off to his crew. In a little nod to exploitation road work, they keep notches on the dashboard whenever they do this stuff--she's the 24th. Pretty simple, albeit grotesque, economy here. It's about this guy--this disgusting human being, born in the trash--making it to the guy on the cross. Now, the guy on the cross isn't a real sweetheart either, he's more Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant, roaring at the God who he believes in just a shade more than he hates Him. Juan's religious faith is actually one of the least developed parts of the story, and that's not due to a lack of space on the part of the team. Bess and Jodorowsky had plenty of space--four albums in total, all of which made it to America in two of the DC/Humanoids preferred softcover format. There's not much indication on the comics of when or where they came from, I had to rely on the kindness of commentators to to find out that the series began in 1995. Throughout it, you can see the seams of Georges Bess figuring out how he wants to draw the story--In some places, Bess uses so fine a line to draw facial features that it looks less like pen and more like scratch work, and then you'll get to later sections where he's decided to do everything in thick lines. It's not the most welcoming art because of the constant transitioning between style, and in the service of a story full of truly awful people, it makes for an at times difficult slog.
Still, it's the story of a kid on the way from Sinner to Saint, so you can't really be surprised that Juan isn't Chuck Chaplin, all googly eyed and steamboat dancing. Still, that mindset won't get you ready for when things get all Dick Tracy.
That isn't all, either. There's also "Pinocchio,"The Greek", "Cyclops", "Bigmouth", "Tutti Frutti", and "Elder. That's who Juan ends up crewing with after he executes his rapist gang in a successful bid to become a bodyguard for the local prime minister. I'm a sucker for this kind of stuff, and watching Juan go through initiation--torture, murder for hire and the requisite beat the shit out of all of the other bodyguards to prove his badassery--is pure gold, even more so when the requisite beat-shit scene takes place in the showers, where the reader first realizes that Juan's tail now reaches almost to the knee. From there, Son Of The Gun plays things by the book--he chops off a rival politicians head and serves it up on a platter, beats the head bodyguard to death and takes his spot, Georges Bess makes fun of Rocky...
...and things pretty much play out the way you would expect them too. Juan's reign as leader is a great success for the prime minister although it ups the savagery of the team to a level that's just savage for savagery's sake. Eventually though, Jodorowsky has to get somewhere, and having built no real reason or momentum to get there--if anything, the bodyguard team of killers portions of the story taste distinctly of something that could have run for a couple hundred issues, American serialized style--the story just abruptly takes a gigantic turn. After slaughtering his way through a group of renegades intent on killing the prime minister, led by the PM's own daughter, Juan is sent to protect the completely safe wife of the prime minister, who is so lost in her grief that she just barely is able to work up the spice to fuck Juan's brains out the first night he arrives.
There's still some violence to come, but it's mixed with erotica and degradation, all culminating in the moment when Juan discovers that the Prime Minister is his father, he was dumped in the garbage because of his tail by the head bodyguard he killed a while back, that was his sister trying to kill his dad, and blah blah blah, this naked hot lady he's been having sex with is totally his mom, icky icky poo. (He still wants to have sex with her. That's not even a question in his mind.)
If it seems like I'm just doing plot recap with sarcasm, well, that's because you're a smart reader and deserve a star. This is just plot recap, because that's pretty much what Son Of The Gun is, a story in development, a story in motion. When it slows down to try "character development", that's when you find out stuff like "This bodyguard is called Tutti Frutti because he is a homosexual wearing a pink shirt" and then you just have a couple of panels where he minces around. There's little else to it, so...moving on. Juan's decisions are never really explained--his initial seduction of his mother involves him breaking into her bedroom and standing there, his decision to abandon his success as a bodyguard to escape with his mother is tangled up in...nothing, really. He just does things, and sometimes it makes sense, but most of the time, he just. Does. Things. Often, they are bad.
Of course, he's still got to end up on that cross though. Which means that Jodorowsky had to come up with a way to get him up there, and that's where one starts to question how far out this story was planned. Georges Bess keeps changing how thick he wants to draw his lines, people's eyes start crossing for no discernible reason other than, hey, whatever, maybe they were making a joke at the time. The chronology of the story, which had at least maintained a relatively understandable pace, starts gyrating, the text starts saying things like "Months later..." and "Miles away..." and all of a sudden, Juan is a bearded alcoholic pimp, being paid to wag his tail in the air while some overweight Mexican tycoon is having sex with his mother on the top floor of a shitty desert bar. (And if you can figure out why the Mexican tycoon needs to hire a couple of jarochos to sit in the room while he humps Juan's mother, you're a comic book genius, and I salute you.) And you gotta ask: Jodo? What's going on here? You really want to make this drastic a shift in three panels?
But that's exactly what Jodorowsky wants, and this is the degredation that Juan is going to get. All of that murder, all of those rapes, pretty much every choice that Juan made? That wasn't the problem. He says it on the cross, early on "You only listen to violence!" He believes himself to be a victim of circumstances, and the pain he suffers here, the only real pain he knows, is that he has to watch as his mom fucks herself silly for food and shelter and he doesn't get to have a taste at all. She won't even touch him, but she won't let him leave. Over and over, and if you're wondering if she looks him in the eye while she's doing it, she does. That's his pain--not the murder of his sister, the exectution of his father. His mom. She won't have sex with him anymore. By the time the survivors from his old crew return, led by his adolescent brother, it doesn't even really make sense why he'd try to escape his fate. He runs, leaves his mom behind to die, ends up dying in the desert and finally gives away his gun.
Is that a facile reading of it, I wonder? Is that a surface analysis, ignoring the brilliance of a comic book writer par excellence? Well, I'm sure it could be, it is me after all. But that's what the text provides, that's what the drawings show. There's no reversal for Juan until he places his lips on the milk-heavy breast of a young mother who, like the villagers he hides amongst, believes him to be the fated tail-having saint they were waiting for. He sucks at her breast only to realize he's possibly dooming the crying infant across the room to become just like him, because all he wanted as a baby was a mother's love, a mother's sustenance. So he calls for a cross, and he screams and bitches, tells his story, and then calls out to God like Tyrese in that shitty Transformers movie. "Bring the rain", he cries. His problems? That's all on the man upstairs. Shouldn't have left him crying in the dumpster.
I'm sorry Jodorowsky, I know it's your week and all.
That's pretty fucked up.
-Tucker Stone, 2009
T1 Introductions & Miss: Better Living Through Crime by Joe McCulloch
T2 Fragile & The Horde here at TFO
T3 Sanctum & Transgenesis 2025 Vol 1: The Ancestor here at TFO
T4 The Incal (Preparations) by Joe McCulloch
T5 Son Of The Gun here at TFO
T6 The Incal (Execution) by Joe McCulloch
T7 White Lama here at TFO
T8 The Technopriest here at TFO
T9 Bouncer, Megalex & Metal Hurlant by Joe McCulloch
T10 The Metabarons by Joe McCulloch
T11 Memories here at TFO
T12 The Chaos Effect here at TFO
T13 The Bilal Trilogy here at TFO