Sunday, August 14, 2011

Yes, We Know You Hate the City: Cryogenic Culture Shock, Gonzo Journalism
& A Election of Greater Evils in Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan

This is going to be a unusual post for me, as I'm making it before having finished the reading. After having spent since 2004? 2006? searching for a complete set of the issues that make up this story, and neither wanting them trashed as many of the beret wearing post-post Mod's tend to leave them second-hand, or even the damn difficulty of finding all the issues in one place, much less not wanting/being able to afford 60+ issues at three dollar cover price... my patience, perseverance and pissed-off-ed-ness paid off! Warren Ellis' "Transmetropolitan" in it's entirety for about 1/4 of cover price an issue. And the previous owner even took care of the books! Alright, enough on me and my find, here's the 101, or in this book's case, the 100001: Created by Warren Ellis back in 1997 and inspired by the 1969 science fiction novel by Norman Spinrad titled "Bug Jack Barron", the series covers the work of Gonzo Journalist, Vulgar Misanthrope, and all-around Total Bastard of the Hunter S. Thompson mold, Spider Jerusalem in a sprawling futuristic/Dystopic vision of New York, so chaotically, over- reachingingly advanced that outsider subcultures splice genes with alien refugees, previous era's cryogenic deep-freezers are hit hard by culture shock, matter re-compilers are as common as microwaves (and get hooked on mechanical 'dope') and new media-religions are invented every few hours. Spider's story begins with him returning The City after a lengthy self-imposed state of exile from the madness, as a Nixonian thug nicknamed The Beast prepares for his re-election to the presidency (the reason Jerusalem went into exile in the first place), and a primary battle is heating up between a virulent racist and a charismatic senator whose rictus grin masks some seriously warped realities. And of course, claiming to 'Hate The City' all the while, Jerusalem delves into the machinations of the race, and in doing so, breaks into a web of conspiracies that threaten the future of the country. Ha. And that's just within about the first 13? 17? issues of what I have read.

Link to Vertigo Comics Warren Ellis "Transmetropolitan" - Vol.1

Link to Vertigo Comics Warren Ellis "Transmetropolitan" - Vol.2

Link to Vertigo Comics Warren Ellis "Transmetropolitan" - Vol.3

Link to Vertigo Comics Warren Ellis "Transmetropolitan" - Vol.4

Link to Vertigo Comics Warren Ellis "Transmetropolitan" - Vol.5

Link to Vertigo Comics Warren Ellis "Transmetropolitan" - Vol.6

Link to Vertigo Comics Warren Ellis "Transmetropolitan" - Vol.7

Link to Vertigo Comics Warren Ellis "Transmetropolitan" - Vol.8

Link to Vertigo Comics Warren Ellis "Transmetropolitan" - Vol.9

Link to Vertigo Comics Warren Ellis "Transmetropolitan" - Vol.10

It's curious, as Ellis' work, especially outside the mainstream superhero realms, from around this period, ie; late 90's to mid 00's has been all of his strongest writing. At the time of it being initially published, for a confluence of reasons, "Transmetropolitan" struck me as a pretender to the throne in a cool-Postmod, Anarcho Journalism, Political Satirical, hyperactively Dystopian, sprawling Meta-City, kind of way. The 'Hunter S. Thompson-ness' of it just too much. But having begun some years ago to delve into the meat of the book, I've found it significantly more rich, original and compelling than my initial assumption that Ellis was just flaunting those concepts while doing a bit of Grant Morrison coattail riding, in themes and style. I since recognize that I was totally amiss on that assumption. So here it is. A decade later I finally get to read/own the thing. What those-in-the-know have described as Ellis' greatest or second-greatest work only to "Planetary".

Link to DC Comics Warren Ellis "Planetary" - Vol.1

Link to DC Comics Warren Ellis "Planetary" - Vol.2

Link to DC Comics Warren Ellis "Planetary" - Vol.3

Link to DC Comics Warren Ellis "Planetary" - Vol.4

Which is, to me, easily one of the pinnacles of comic book storytelling this decade. "Planetary" being tales of the historic legacy of the 'Archeologists of the Impossible' through the centuries, but more precisely what it is, is the greatest of meta-literary explorations of the history of 'Pulp' ever written. In comic book form. Tarzan, Lone Ranger, Doc Savage, Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, Godzilla, James Bond, Land that Time Forgot, Journey to the Moon, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Hong Kong action films... you name it... as the 'shadow history' of the human race. If Transmet even begins to deliver qualitatively on par with Ellis' other higher-ranking works, finally finishing the reading of this book is going to be a wild, great ride.