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posted April 17, 2007
Top Shelf, comic book 24 pages, 2007, $5.
I'm not sure of an easy comparison for James Kochalka's ongoing series about misbehaving teenaged superheroes, Superf*ckers
, although it's familiar enough that I'm thinking there should be one. One of the more impressive things about the tidal wave of depraved acting out and general bad behavior from its selfish, overpowered principals is that it captures that feeling one gets from dipping into reality television and the way participants in those shows seem to know they can benefit from acting like loutish shitheads, and further realize that you know this, too, and afford them permission. Kochalka's story is played without the media critique inherent in that kind of endeavor, becoming a confirmation of the worst impulses of human behavior that doesn't really feel like commentary on its genre except in the most oblique way.
I'm not certain how Kochalka manages it, but his book shares with similar exercises in humor an almost vicious pride in mining its central conceit for humor, like an improv sketch onstage that really gets going where you can see the performers smacking their lips over jokes two or three lines ahead. If you cotton to the central source of amusement, shitty behavior by over-privileged young people, you'll almost certainly enjoy what Kochalka does with it eight times a page, all exposed wieners and death wishes and sexual dysfunction and urination and tremulous egos. You might not remember any of the specific riffs when you close the book, and the plot moves so slowly you're not required to really pay attention to it, but it's a dense read for what it does and pretty to look at it in the PAAS way most of Kochalka's stuff is these days.