Warren Ellis’ cyberpunk dystopian comic ‘Transmetropolitan’ tells the story of a muckraking journalist several centuries into the future. It has aliens, clones, cyborgs and politics, and not enough fans for how amazing it is.
“You like political satire? Buy this. Like sci-fi? Buy this. Like black humour? Buy this. Like comics in any way? BUY THIS.” – Amazon reviewer
The most impressive thing about Transmetropolitan is the setting. Set at an indistinct point in the future, the City is a huge, sprawling metropolis, full of rampant consumerism, corruption and self-absorption. This is a place where your kitchen appliance might be a drug addict, where fashion victims grow new organs and religions are founded bi-weekly.
Enter Spider Jerusalem, the comic’s main protagonist, a controversial journalist who removed himself from City life for five years – until his publisher finally tracks him down and demands the two books owed him under contract.
When Spider returns to the City to write, he’s immediately embroiled in a number of scandals, from the exploitation of the Transient community (who use genetic engineering to become extra-terrestrial sentient beings) to corruption within the Presidential campaign. As a journalist, it’s Spider’s job to explain to the audience what is going on and why it’s happening, and the story is occasionally put on hold to linger on another weird aspect of City life.
Our other protagonists are Yelena Rossini and Channon Yarrow, Spider’s two assistants. To briefly sum up their relationship to Spider; Yelena is the brains, and Channon is the brawn. They both hate him, although as the series continues they discover the method to his madness, and grow a grudging respect for him and his work.
Transmetropolitan builds its real strength by stringing together a broad group of information into a cohesive story. Just like in real life, the truth comes from unlikely places, and Spider can’t always trust his usual methods to be reliable. When important information vanishes, the audience understands what a blow that is. When someone dies, the grief is real.
Through careful mood-setting and information-seeding, the City takes on the very real feeling of a dangerous, busy place where people live, die, work and relax.
If you like sci-fi, satire, comics & the work of Hunter S Thompson, you’ll love this.
Amazon: Transmetropolitan vol.1