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Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis et al.

November 5, 2012

Spider Jerusalem is a paranoid, drug addicted sociopath; he is also the gonzo journalist hero of the Transmetropolitan comic series, a version of the lovable rogue – a temperamental artist who is so good at what he does he can often escape the consequences of his actions, at least the ones directly tied to his work. In this case, the work is journalism.

Spider begins the series – and /FYI this review covers the first four books – at the end of a years long drug binge, having successfully published books that allowed him to retreat into the wilderness. He gets called back into the city, against his will, to write, and soon finds himself actually doing reporting, as he finds he is willing to see and then investigate things that others ignore.

This synopsis of the plot of the first book of Transmetropolitan does not do justice to exactly how bonkers the series is.  Spider basically survives on drugs, but that is just the beginning; he stubs out a cigarette on someone’s eye because he is irritated, dubs his helpers “the filthy assistants”, avoids responsibility whenever he can, and lives in a technicolor world that is instantly enthralling while conveying the utter dystopian rot under the surface – and the drawings of this world are top notch.

Transmetroplitan paints a specific world with interesting characters; but I wonder how it can sustain itself long-term, as Spider pretty much hates everyone and everything. Not only can that mentality grow tiring, but it can make someone like Spider seem like a righteous asshole – after all, if he’s above everyone, what is he fighting for?

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