Transmetropolitan - Warren Ellis & Darick Robertson
Volume 1: Back on the Street
Volume 2: Lust for Life
Volume 3: The Year of the Bastard
Volume 4: The New Scum

I've read the first four (of eight?) volumes of Transmetropolitan in the past month. I forget where I first heard of it, but it's another of these comics that's been talked about in the media, and now they're finally done (or just about) printing the collected serials so I can find them in the library and read them for free.

The stories are set in 21st century America, in the sort of world pictured in sci-fi flicks like "Blade Runner" or "The Fifth Element." Super high-tech stuff, drugs without the consequences (thanks to anti-cancer traits and the like), pervasive floating advertisements, and pretty much any other "America going down the drain" scenarios you've imagined, plus some you haven't. The Transients are genetically mutating themselves into aliens (think Roswell); Foglets have uploaded their minds into clouds of nanomachines.

In the midst of all this craziness is Spider Robinson, a cynical, hateful journalist who fled the City and lived in the mountain for several years after his fame caught up with him. He's back, writing a column called "I Hate It Here," and once again becoming wildly famous. He's your call-it-like-it-is man, the one who pulls back the curtain to expose anything and everything, and you love him and hate him for it. He's not a nice man by any stretch of the imagination, but when he speaks, people listen.

Although it's set in the far-fetched future, it does address current issues. Volumes 3 and 4, for instance, deal with the presidential election: the Beast, who's currently in power, a man who sees his job as making sure 51 percent of the American people have food to eat, and the Smiler, a chipper-looking man who gets a few boosts in the polls when one of his staff is murdered. The future as depicted by Ellis and Robertson borrows from both Orwell and Huxley—government has gotten more controlling; the population is even more addicted to entertainment.

It's off to a roaring start, and I plan to see where it ends up.

Fed to jonathan's brain | September 28, 2003