We've talked before on #30in30 about the weirdness that is Jojo's Bizzare Adventure's latest arc, #Jojolion. With its strange references to previous storylines sprinkled between a looming mystery that's only just starting to be revealed at 70 chapters in, it's not exactly the easiest beast to crack. That's really why I've avoided bringing it up too often just yet: while things are fresh, they're hard to take in fully, given a real lack of perspective. But sometimes you hit a point where you just have to start talking. Sometimes you read a chapter and say you yourself, "There's more at play here, and someone has to know!"
Sometimes you have a single page flip you completely upside-down.
So, yes, today we'll be coming all the way forward to the most recent release of #JJBA, looking at Jojolion #70. If you're not caught up with the translation, which just dropped from Ultra Jump scans and the Hi Wa Mata Noboru team yesterday, you can do so here.
Otherwise, consider yourselves sufficiently prepped with a Spoiler warning ahead!
So, in the latest issue of Jojolion, things started off as normally as one would imagine: we picked up with the conclusion of the fight that Josuke and company have been involved with for the past few issues, they solved the puzzle at hand, defeated their enemy, and made plans for recovering the mysterious Rokakaka plant from the Higashikata grounds. Good, great, awesome. Classic stuff, just the way we expected things to go for the series!
But then you notice that there's a conspicuous number of pages still left...
Instead of giving us more time with the heroes, showing them gathering their resources or traveling to their destination, Araki chooses to cut back to Jobin, eldest brother of the Higashikata family and assumed villain of the arc. We see him walking around a mall parking lot, trying to locate a contact for the next stage in some plan, when he shoos off a small child. Of course, in true Jojo fashion, it turns out that kid isn't a kid: he's an old man, and the Rock Humans' master Jobin was looking for.
Enter Poor Tom, a crotchety and perverted man with wicked intentions for Josuke and the rest of Jobin's family, should they interfere in their plans. This is our first introduction to him, and we only know him by his dress, his Stand's name, and about a dozen pages of dialogue, but there's quite a bit that we can parse out from just these scant details. Because, boy oh boy, does it seem like this guy has something interesting up his little sleeves.
The first thing that popped out to me was the button on his lapel. It says "CODA" in big block letters, and Araki even focuses in on it at one point. At first, I thought this was just a clever nod to his own work: you see, Coda was the name of the band who played the intro to the adaptation for Battle Tendency. That'd be pretty novel, since he's only rarely made reference Japanese bands so far in the series, most notably in Steel Ball Run with the pair of Wekapipo and Magenta Magenta (both by the hip-hop group, SOUL'd OUT). No, instead we need to put all the pieces together: the CODA button, the Stand "Ozone Baby," and his name: Poor Tom.
This new villain is a Led Zeppelin reference.
New readers may be wondering, why is this so important? To grasp the full weight of this revelation, you have to understand just how much this band means to Jojo's creator. He's been on record multiple times listing Led Zeppelin as perhaps his most favorite musical group of all time, and one he doesn't make reference to lightly in his work. In fact, when he first wrote Stone Ocean, Pucci's final Stand was named "Stairway to Heaven," but he later retconned this.
So far in the official JJBA cannon, there have only been three references made to Led Zeppelin, all in the same family. I am of course talking about the impeccable Italian Zeppeli family.
Yes, the original Zep' tributes themselves! Yet even when Araki created William, he mentions some conflicting emotions, looking back.
"Mr. Zeppeli was named after the rock band 'Led Zeppelin.' They are top-tier musicians to me, so I felt I had to reference their name with this character, albeit it's really a shame I used it so early" (Jojonium Vol. 2 Interview)
The author constantly looked to perfect his usage of the band's good name, referencing them again with Caesar in Part 2 and Gyro in Part 7, but every time, they're part of the Zeppeli family, and they're always good guys. So suddenly having a villain with a Zeppelin tribute that sticks (and three pretty big ones, no less!) seems pretty important.
So the question becomes, Who is this Poor Tom?
Well, once again, we know very little, since he was so newly introduced, but we can posit some theories. Since Araki started a fresh Jojo universe with Steel Ball Run, there's less for us to consider, which is actually a plus. But let's come back to our original point: Araki doesn't use Led Zeppelin references lightly, and so far, he's only tied them to one family. So who's to say this is any different? Who's to say Poor Tom isn't our first evil Zeppeli?
Crazy, right? So how would this theory work? We know that Gyro dies in Steel Ball Run, and he didn't leave behind any children before being exiled to the States to reclaim his honor in the race. Simple: Gregorio had four other sons.
So far as we know, Poor Tom, himself, isn't a Rock Human. So it's quite possible this vulgar little man is a descendant of the Zeppeli line. In fact, he's got quite a bit in common with his predecessors from the original universe. In the Jojonium Vol. 2 Interview, Araki commented, "Mr. Zeppeli may look weak at first glance, but he's actually strong." Clearly this is at play here with Poor Tom, as even his latest ally, Jobin, overlooked him as just some punk kid, and neither he nor the reader are meant to believe that this strange little man was actually getting advances from the attractive women in the parking lot. It's also possible that, if he were to be a Zeppeli child, that he could be driven by a sense of revenge, in a twisted play on Caesar and Joseph's original interactions. Tom could view Josuke as the inheritor of Johnny's sins, and feel the need to repay him for the death of his uncle Gyro!
Reading these pages and hopping online to find that "Poor Tom" and "Ozone Baby" were both Led Zeppelin tracks off of the Coda album got me so excited, I knew I had to get my thoughts on the page and into the wider world. If you're caught up with Jojolion and have your own theories, please don't hesitate to drop them in the comments so we can have a chat! I don't remember the last time I was this hyped up about a chapter, so I'd love to hear your thoughts!