One Punch Reviews #67: The Line
Did you know Anthony Bourdain has a comic published by Vertigo? It was a surprise to me. It’s called Get Jiro!, and he describes it as a “gourmet slaughterfest”. I suppose this sounds like yet another random mash-up to some … but to me, it’s a perfectly logical extension of a chef’s duties.
It just never occurred to me until now that chefs may be more desensitized to violence than the average person. While we get to experience violence from the comfort of our living room chairs, these hearty souls must deal with blood, gore, and viscera on a daily basis. Perhaps the most gruesome thing I’ve seen on TV was the original Japanese Iron Chef, where, on TV, they grab live fish, slap them onto a table, and gut them as the spark of life goes out in their fishy eyes. Chef’s view it all with a jaded eye, only thinking of how in death they will be transformed into something glorious. Then they chop it, fry it, and transform it into something that distances the eater from its violent origins.
That’s probably why the characters in Kevin Church and Paul Silvi’s The Line seem to be one foul outburst away from snapping and murdering someone in cold blood. But really, given their hectic conditions, who could blame them?
As our story opens, we’re introduced to our main character, Linda Park. She sort of an average girl who works as a server at a pizza place. Then, one day, Paul walks in, yadda yadda yadda, suddenly she’s drunkenly offered a job at a classy, high-end restaurant with two Michelin stars. Paul, the head chef of the restaurant, doesn’t remember any of this, but as the staff is filled with similar outcasts with little experience, she gets the job anyway.
And that’s where the craziness starts. Much of the staff is pretty chill, but the people at the top are pretty certifiably loony. Paul is a brilliant chef. He is also a little autistic, which, to put it kindly doesn’t make him much of a people person. His demands of meeting that original Iron Chef freshness quality runs him afoul of Greenpeace (and the Twitterverse) after it’s discovered that he has chickens slaughtered out back.
Then there’s Chase, a business manager who’s concerned with updating practices with technology and social media but doesn’t bother to train anyone how to work anything. Oh, and she’s also violently unhinged. This becomes a big problem when, say a huge online social media promotion gets out of hand and starts bleeding the restaurant money.
And that’s not all! Through the course of the comic, Linda sees it all. Violently allergic reactions. Pushy customers who feel it their duty to give the staff a piece of their mind. And
Guy Fieri Guido Dudebro. She may be well adjusted now, but you’ve gotta wonder that, given time, if Linda won’t end up just as cracked as the restaurant’s brilliant chef.
My main criticism of The Line is that the storylines seem to end fairly abruptly. The resolutions — such as, say, the appearance of a sex tape? — feel a little deus ex machina. Sure, there’s a little set-up earlier in the story … but there’s a huge leap between a chef commenting on how hot Guido is to the filming and distribution of a sex tape. (I’m not disputing that it doesn’t happen though, as Kitchen Confidential has be expecting every restaurant kitchen to be quasi brothel of sorts.)
That shouldn’t eclipse where The Line succeeds. Despite all the setbacks, the blows to self-esteem, and the huge amounts of stress, Linda at some point admits that this is the only job she’s ever wanted to keep. And you know what? You can actually see why. It goes just beyond money or camaraderie. It’s the glory of being a part of a team that’s taking on the challenge of creating something new and wonderful.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5).