Transmetropolitan Review: Fond Memories Of Yelling At Society

In lieu of my usual tactic of reviewing things out of the mainstream, I am reviewing one special comic. I know what you are all thinking, “Is he going to be writing about The Sandman, The Crow, or The League of Extraordinary Gentleman?” That answers is a resounding “No”. But I will give you a hint; it stars comic’s favorite handheld “bowel disrupter” totting journalist. You might know him as Spider Jerusalem, lead in Transmetropolitan Back On The Street as well as what I am reviewing tonight (and yes, he has it set to Prolapse and is pointing it right at you).

Transmetropolitan is written by CTBF returning champion, Warren Ellis (so instead of rewriting some of the things that he has written, I will just refer to Alex Hajdar’s article) so there is no reason to reintroduce this man. Taking the role of artist is The Boy’s very own Darick Robertson.

Transmertropolitan starts in the mountains in some far off year, where a naked Alan Moore looking man is arguing into a telephone. Introduce Spider Jerusalem, the once famous journalist who has been living away, coped up in the mountains for five years to try and escape his fans. Unfortunately for Spider, he still owes his publisher two books. Fear of being in a lawsuit if he does not comply and personally out of money, Spider decides that he must return to that one detestable place where he knows the can write effectively, the City. Spider packs his things and cuts all ties to his mountain life. Once in the bloated city, Spider tracks down his former friend/editor Mitchell Royce for a job. Royce tells him to start by handing him an 8000 word article by tomorrow; they will continue from there. Spider then moves on to his new run-down apartment where after mistakenly having all his hair removed by a malfunctioning cleaning unit, he sees the topic of his new article right on the T.V. screen. A group of humans that have been manipulating their genetic code to transform themselves into aliens, called the “Transient”, have been making an uproar spear-headed by Spider’s past friend Fred Christ. Now, Spider is off to interview Christ in the Transient ghetto known as Angel 8.

In Angel 8, Spider discovers the oppression the Transient people face on a day-to-day basis. Spider finds and interviews Christ, all the while piecing together the real reason the power grubbing Christ wants to help these people. He leaves Angel 8 feeling that all hell is going to break loose very soon. After returning home, Spider learns from the news that riots have started in Angel 8 and the police have been called. Back outside, Spider returns to the Transient Ghetto to get a first person look at the police brutality. Atop a strip club with the other employees, Spider reports the atrocities he sees directly to Royce, who is concurrently selling the feed to the local news. As Spider finishes, he mistakenly brings back his baneful fame, while being surrounded by crying strippers. One of them will become Spider’s future assistant, Channon Yarrow.

Warren Ellis is pushing the snark meter all the way to the max with Transmetropolitan. I consider Spider Jerusalem to be the mouthpiece for Ellis’ complaints and problems with modern society (well, late 1990’s modern society). Concepts like politics, organized religion, mind-rotting television, and oppressed minority groups are all covered within this first volume. Ellis’ fictional world of The City is a futuristic Manhattan mixed with a hint of the Men In Black’s headquarters. He creates a world that promotes health problems while at the same time promoting the drug/product that works as the cure. For instance, during Channon’s first day with Spider, Spider tells her to start smoking and start building immunity to the cancer with some of his anti-cancer prescription. This is all in the pursuit of being a Journalist.

If there is one word that can summarize Darick Robertson’s art style, it would be “rad”. He is not afraid to use vibrant colors for fear of off-setting the comics’ dark tone. Robertson knew that Ellis wanted The City to be run down, but still a place filled with cultures from around the world, especially their choice of colors. Take for instance, Spider himself; he is an almost hairless medium height man covered in tattoos with a tendency to enjoy being naked in his own home. He wears a black jacket over an exposed chest and black slacks. Does that not sound like the coolest main character ever? And it all came from Darick Robertson’s talent.

Pros: The City is a vibrant extreme of human progression as well as regression; the little details in the background do almost as much satirical biting as Spider himself. Spider and Channon are well rounded leading the exhibit new dimensions of character and likability as the series progresses. The first few chapters contain beautiful panels filled with purples and greens.

Cons:
Warren Ellis’ commentary can best be described as a lion tamer’s whip with bits of teeth sticking out in a jagged array. I bring this up because the first chapter had me wondering if that whip of his was going into overdrive right off the bat. The introduction to Spider is this long rant that misses more then it lands. After that he finds some ground and paces himself better. Darick Robertson’s art hits its mark early, but drops down after the first story arc.

Well that is it. I reviewed Transmetropolitan; probably one of the most popular talked about American comics of the last ten or so years. But you know what; this review was more for those who have not yet looked into Transmetropolitan. Everyone else should just be sitting at their desks, thinking about fond memories of knocking over religious zealots’ tables and getting T.V. adds shot directly into their brains. You can do a lot worse with your time then picking up Vertigo’s release of Transmetropolitan.

This review copy was provided by Children of The Blazing Fists’ friend Les Webster.

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