Friday, 22 January 2016

Review: Transmetropolitan Volumes 1 - 4 by Warren Ellis

Publication Date: January 1998
Publisher: Vertigo

After years of self-imposed exile from a civilization rife with degradation and indecency, cynical journalist Spider Jerusalem is forced to return to a job that he hates and a city that he loathes. Working as an investigative reporter for the newspaper The Word, Spider attacks the injustices of his surreal 23rd Century surroundings. Combining black humor, life-threatening situations, and moral ambiguity, this book is the first look into the mind of an outlaw journalist and the world he seeks to destroy. 

I’m not a huge reader of graphic novels, I’ve dabbled in the past with things like ‘Watchmen’ but honestly they and the fan-base that surrounds them has always kind of intimidated me. But then Mum got rushed into hospital with heart failure at the end of November last year and I just stopped reading. I couldn’t focus or persuade myself to settle to more than a page or two of any books, no matter how much I was enjoying the story. So a friend handed me the first couple of volumes of ‘Transmetropolitan’ and told me to read them.

I was expecting to enjoy them, I wasn’t expecting to love them. They’re dark, they’re filthy and twisted and a little bit depraved in places, but what surprised me were the complex the characters, and the sucker punch to the feelings that they deliver with alarming accuracy.

It’s a messed up, twisted and utterly brilliant world, but the true heart and drive behind these books is Spider Jerusalem himself. He of the filthy mouth, bowel disruptor gun, and surprising heart that shows up at unexpected moments and completely floors you. There’s a depth to these books that I wasn’t expecting, an intensity and morality that is what shifted these swiftly from an enjoyable read into something extraordinary. They are now an all-time favourite.

The first two volumes offer more disjointed but no less enjoyable and interesting stories, before shifting into a lengthy and more cohesive whole for the third and fourth. There’s so much more to this world than is obvious at first, a complexity and sometimes painful view that left me in turns breathless with laughter and close to tears.

Brutal, brilliant, and definitely not for younger readers, Transmetropolitan will offer a surprisingly insightful view of the world we live in, through a very surreal lens on a very different future with a complex lead at its heart.

“Trust the fuckhead.”

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