April 3, 2012

Getting Graphic: 'Transmetropolitan Vol. 1: Back on the Street' by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson

Transmetropolitan Vol. 1: Back on the Streets 
written by Warren Ellis
illustrated by Darick Robertson
DC Comics/Vertigo (2009)
originally published in 1997
ISBN 9781401220846

Spider Jerusalem might be insane. Scratch that--there's no "might" about it. He's a nutter. That's not his biggest problem, though; it's the fact that he might be the sanest man he knows.

In one of those not-too-distant types of futures, Spider is living in seclusion on top of a mountain, and he's been doing it for the past five years. Why the Grizzly Adams routine? Well, he was a hotshot reporter turned author turned celebrity, which drove him up a wall, so he took his hefty advance and retreated to a cabin in the woods with a small armory of weapons in case anyone came looking for him. Then someone found him--his old employers. And they want the two books Spider still owes them. So, Spider packs up and goes back into the city and finds an even more depressing and dystopian version of commercialism run amok.

The series seems to be a not so subtle chastisement of all the B.S. in the modern world. Corporatism, religion, cosmetic surgery, hyper-partisan politics, and of course journalism. Spider's disdain for everything from his boss, the President of the United States, to even his drug-addicted replicator. That lone could make for some caustic style of comedy, but throw in a stripper-turned-chaperone hired by the newspaper to watch after Spider, the comedic chemistry is doubled.

Spider seems like Warren Ellis' and Darick Robertson's sounding board on society at large. Works for me, and depicting the American President as a reviled con artist who Spider actually assaults without consequence was especially humorous. And the cyberpunk-ish backdrop had a tone that was almost as funny--and definitely more cynical--than what Futurama ever had to say about the future.

I think I'm going to like this series. I hear later volumes get a little dull, but this first volume was a pipe-bomb.

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