52 Pick-Up Week 2:
Prior to my time here on PoP! and the recording of a weekly PoP! Cast alongside Lee Rodriguez and my fellow PoP! Stars, I had only the vaguest inkling of what a podcast was. Where most comic fanboys and girls go out of their way to download podcasts and get all the latest and greatest info on their favorite comic book properties, I prefer to be surprised when the books come out… for better or for worse. By the same token, I don’t do a lot of poking around websites that might inadvertently spoil a reveal for me. The downside is that I don’t hear about what else is out there very often. That’s how I missed Asterios Polyp.
Here’s the good news – thanks to this little quest I’m on, books like Asterios Polyp have been brought to my attention.
Apparently, if you’ve gone anywhere online in the past year that had anything at all to do with comic books, you likely have already heard of David Mazzucchelli’s masterpiece. If, however, you’re like me, strap in for a spoiler free look at the details of this transcendent tome.
The easiest way I can describe this book, if not entirely the most accurate, is that it’s like Memento in comic book form. I don’t mean that the story mirrors Memento, but the creativity of the book’s structure and the fluidity of the book’s timeline put it in a class not unlike that of the film. As for the story, it is one of an architect named Asterios Polyp; simultaneously the tale of his fabrication and deconstruction. And if you think that I’m oversimplifying by implying a duality to his story, trust me, I’m just being wry.
There’s not really all that much I feel I need to say about this book. The story is compelling, the construction innovative, the art perfectly evocative, and the characters themselves? Rich to the point of familiarity.
If the book has a flaw, it is that it succeeds almost too completely in broadcasting the voices of the characters. When Asterios is flexing his intellect and name dropping to prove his place among the literati, the reader may feel a bit lost. I assure you, it is all there simply to establish the protagonist’s voice, and it makes the experience all the more complete in the end. If you’re not “into it” at first, just give it a little time… you’ll come around.
Asterios Polyp gets a resounding 4.5 out of 5 empty Zippos
As week two of my experiment draws to a close, I find myself amidst a bit of an epiphany. I don’t love comic books. I love super heroes. And I’ve a special affinity for the X-Men, given our history together. This isn’t to say anything bad about comics, but… there’s very simply a reason I read what I read. Asterios Polyp could be a movie by the Wes Anderson. I’d undoubtedly love it, in fact. And there are other TV shows and movies that fulfill so many of my other entertainment “needs.” Superhero movies and television shows, however, are few and far between. Especially the good ones.
All I mean to say is that, if my tastes in comic books have been particularly narrow, it isn’t so much out of my disinterest in other things, but rather my extreme love of the genre to which I devote most of my time.
It should be interesting to see if this weekly endeavor changes any of that, or if this will just end up being a temporary diversion along my road to total superhero submersion.