The weekend is here! Work is finished and it’s time to celebrate, and how better than with Transmetropolitan, by Warren Ellis? Escapism mixed with some real messages, it makes me laugh and think at the same time and gets me suitably inspired for the weekend of creating ahead.
Spider Jerusalem is a journalist, and not one of those namby-pamby research on the internet ones either. He gets to the heart of the story, often literally and is afraid of no one and nothing. He operates in ‘The City’, a mish mash of humanity, based some-time in the future and a combination of all the most exciting places you’ve ever been. What’s important? The truth, without compromise.
Why I love it:
I spoke about characters earlier in the week, so I won’t mention the wonderful development that Ellis brings, oh so subtly to his main protagonists. I also spoke about plot development so won’t mention the slow burning story that grows beneath the monthly helping of humour and righteous anger.
So, to pick something else that made this comic so successful, I’ll focus on the sheer creativity and prescience present in every issue. It’s easy when you are falling in love with characters and trying to figure out the plot, to overlook the many small touches that populate the best comics. With a comic like Transmetropolitan, where the world is ripe for invention, Ellis manages to be endlessly original whilst keeping it grounded in something that feels horribly like our reality. From the ‘makers’ present in each flat (and the different available models, based on how rich you are), to Spider’s cat, sorry 3 eyed mutation that it is, there are a wealth of details that enrich and realize the world. Ideas, such as having physical aspects of other cultures medically embedded come very close to real life and, you feel, can only be a short time away. This grounding of science fiction makes the story that much more powerful and relevant, despite the insane antics that happen within it.
Nextwave: Agents of Hate by Warren Ellis
Having just blogged about the wonderful, irreverent world of Warren Ellis, what could be better than reading a comic that feels so uniquely him? This collection of issues 1 – 6 of this Marvel comic package everything he does well into one, pant-wettingly silly volume.
Ellis has dug through the archives for some minor Marvel heroes, forgotten about by all but the most fervent of fans. Collecting them together into a distinctly disparate and somewhat disagreeable group he pits them against a number of foolish foes, from a giant lizard in pants to an entirely barmy army general, via soldiers made from plants. As per usual the ideas come thick and fast, as do the constant, mostly respectful jokes at Marvel’s expense.
But, as per usual, the thing that really does it for me are the characters. Gone are the classic Marvel tropes, replaced by sly though affectionate real-world versions. In Warren Ellis’ Marvel universe the characters argue, swear, take the piss and generally do their best to annoy their team mates. His bad guys rant about their marital problems and have serious mother issues. Things, you get the feeling, will rarely end in peace and harmony, but will almost certainly be far more entertaining as a result.
Ellis has released a huge number of different comic series, most only a few comics long and almost all completely his own creation. Perhaps because of the link with Marvel, or maybe just for the heck of it, he seems to have let himself go with Nextwave and really pushed the boundaries of both silliness and being over the top. Needless to say, it’s fantastic and you should go read it right now.
Warren Ellis, the fabulous comic author, in particular the creator of Transmetropolitan. I love his ability to combine things in one story that simply shouldn’t work. The skill I am most jealous of though is the way in which he can bring humour into pretty much every frame yet never detract from the story that is playing out, or seem cheesy or over-the-top.
His comics blend so many different factors that all demand an emotional response; yet never seem forced or shoehorned in for the sake of it. His characters are incessantly railing against all manner of inequalities and wrongs yet at the same time will exhibit views both shocking yet head-shakingly right. It is impossible not to become invested in them. Whilst this is going on, they are also cracking obscene jokes and using appalling yet casual violence, the kind that would get you banned from TV long before you got anywhere near the censors. Surrounding these actions and opinions will be lives that can have tender moments, horrible sadness and wonderful highs, all of which again endear and connect them to you.
Throughout all of it, Warren will bring the funny; visually, through story and situation and through the characters themselves. I think someone may have said in their introduction to one of his graphic novels that secretly everyone would like to be a Warren Ellis character. They were right. And if they didn’t say it, then I just did.