Monday, July 09, 2007

Transmetropolitan

Somewhere in Transmetropolitan: back on the street, the main protagonist Spider Jerusalem is questioned by bouncers on his way to a bar for an interview. So annoyed is he that he mercilessly beats the men to pulp. "I don't have to put up with this shabby crap!" he snarls just as he is about to stomp on them with his studded boots "I am a journalist!"

Spider Jerusalem used to be a gonzo-journalist. When we first meet him he's become a secessionist of sorts - choosing to live in isolation in the mountains away from the cesspool of the city. His hair runs down the small of his back, a straggly beard covers his face - he struts around naked, his body covered with tattoos and the soles of his feet dotted with blisters. People annoy him. He's hilariously filthy when he speaks. And he has a propensity for violence.


Jerusalem's hand is forced by his book publishers - who demand the two books he has been paid an advance for. However the money is long gone and Jerusalem needs both a job and the stimulus of a metropolitan area in order to deliver to his contract. He enters the city and lands himself a gig as a columnist. His automatic shower renders him hairless. A matter synthesizer gives him camera-sunglasses - with a circular red lens and a rectangular green lens. Jerusalem struts around town - looking like Keannu Reeves in Matrix: Punk Revolutions.

Writer Warren Ellis stages his futuristic vision carefully. He shows us the changes in the social fabric brought about by technology. And he is able to extend that vision to show us how these changes are further being circumvented by society. All of this happens seamlessly in the story - people make references to technology and use it with humor and familiarity - making the setting feel natural.


Take Jerusalem's "maker" for instance - a matter synthesizer that creates objects from garbage - is a terribly worn futuristic "invention", appearing in sci-fi projects from the beginning of time so to say. But Ellis tweaks this delightfully. The maker pops up a hologram of Marlon Brando from the Godfather. "I am a Godti 101 Maker" it says and eyeing Jerusalem's cigarette further announces "And I am not your fucking ashtray". Turns out the mafia-made Maker is on drugs.

Darick Robertson illustrates the comic book and his framing is superb. Mixing elements of cartoon, punk, horror and graffiti, he creates panels that are energetic and enjoyable.

Transmetropolitan is published by DC's Vertigo label.

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