Transmetropolitan - Review



Warren Ellis is considered one of the best comic writers of this generation. Everybody interested in comics relates his name to either two of his best works: the "Extremis" story arc of "The Inivincible Iron Man" and "Transmetropolitan".
Transmetropolitan was the first Warren Ellis comic i ever read. It was always said to present the pure essence of what Warren Ellis' writing is all about. Therefore it sounded like a good point to get into.
Is Transmetropolitan really as good as most people say?


Transmetropolitan consist out of 60 issues

The comic chronicles the battles of Spider Jerusalem, infamous renegade gonzo journalist of the future, an homage to gonzo journalism founder Hunter S. Thompson. Spider Jerusalem dedicates himself to fighting the corruption and abuse of power of two successive United States presidents; he and his "filthy assistants" strive to keep their world from turning more dystopian than it already is while dealing with the struggles of fame and power, brought about due to the popularity of Spider via his articles. (source: Wikipedia)
 
Transmetropolitan is an in your face criticism of society and a dark depiction of how the future could turn out to be. Though the setting of this (not dated) futuristic Earth is clearly showing us a dystopian future, it's by no means as dark ala Matrix or Mad Max but instead more like Robocop.

Though it's certainly scary to see how (agressively) realistically thought up this future is, Warren Ellis manages to tell his story with a certain amount of humor that avoids depressing the reader while he's reading. New religions are popping up everywhere and promoted for at big markets, the last green places on Earth are located in reservations, TVs become as big as livingroom walls, and pollution causes several mutations everywhere. The humor here mainly comes from the fact that most citizens still seem to feel comfortable in this future without realizing how downgraded it has become. Except the mutated, disfigured and poor citizens living in the slums, earning their money from drug dealing, prostitution,etc.
They are seen as the scum of the city and are not helped by anyone but instead exploited by the government.

"I can only write when i'm on the streets."

This is where Spider Jerusalem comes into play. He is like a way smarter version of Raul Duke/ Hunter S. Thompson. Don't get me wrong basically Spider Jerusalem still is a lunatic who can go from 1 to 100 in a milisec. No wonder. He has had enough of the life in this corrupt future, yet he doesn't want to give up fighting for the poor and helpless. And how does he do that? With journalism or to be more precise: his columns...oh and he has a gun that induces diarrhea to everybody who annoys him.

Accompanied by his two "filthy assistants", his bodyguard(-ess) Channon and his writing assistant Yelena (and a double-faced cat) his story follows his everdaily quest for inspirations for his columns to help the poor and exploited. As the story goes on, Spider Jerusalem gets more and more famous and feels how his words change peoples' attitudes. It's only later when he himself has to find out how the media basically "rapes" him and tries to silence him as well.
It all leads to Spider and his assisstants trying to bring down those corrupt politcians by revealing one conspiracy after another until it comes to the giant climax....which i won't spoil.

Not even he knows why his glasses are shaped like that.


Transmetropolitan features some of the most interesting, thoughtful and crazy people i have yet seen in a comic.
Spider Jerusalem is the best example here. He is probably the only guy beliving in morality and truth in this world. Unfortunately, since the world has gone down the drain, he basically went nuts.
Surrounded by stupid people accepting government and injustice as it is, he feels left alone. Wouldn't you go crazy if you find yourself in a future inhabited with idiots?
More than once you see him completely shifting his mood drastically from one second to the other.
Sometimes this happens so suddenly that you can't even quite follow his train of thought.
Switching between serious and intriguing thinking and funny, lunatic "fuck everything" behaviour and drug addiction, he incapsulates everything essential about this great comic as a whole.

Along with him are his "filthy assisstants", who, although loyal, most of the time hate his guts. While Yelena and Channon become best friends in the course of the comic, they still keep a weird love-hate relationship with Spider Jerusalem, which is the main fuel of the character comedy in the comic.

The other comedical aspect is the futuristic world itself. As i already mentioned, it's full of absurd ideas and gadgets that might seem incredibly weird and outlandish, still represent an agressively realistic view on a future if society's bad sides keep evolving the direction they are now:
Animals are basically extinct and every animal around is either a mutant or a clone, TV commercials get placed into your brain while you watch, so you see commercials in your dreams, etc.
It's both fascinating, scary AND funny.


They have their differences, but they are a team.


Summed up, I had very high hopes for Transmetropolitan. And for me personally, it didn't disappoint in the least. Though i still won't give this comic a full 10/10, because it's not for everyone (and because it has one or two pretty dry issues).
I basically dug everything from the story, to the characters, to the artstyle by Darick Robertson, yet still i would recommend for everybody interested to read at least the first 10 issues to know if it's something for you.
You don't have to be a hyper-politically interested person to understand or like Transmetropolitan. Though it does have some memorable action moments in it, that's not the primary point of the comic.
It's a very dialogue heavy but satisfying and incredibly funny comic that, while i still haven't read that much else from Warren Ellis, rightfully deserves to be at least named as one of his best works.



Final Verdict: 9 out of 10 



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