Global Frequency: Planet Ablaze
Global Frequency: Detonation Radio - Warren Ellis et al.

This is Aleph. You're on the Global Frequency

After reading Ellis' Ministry of Space, I checked out a few more of his comics. Planetary: Crossing Worlds is one of his superhero comics, but that particular volume probably wasn't a good place to start. It's about a powerful covert agency named Planetary, in three stories that cross over with several other comics (The Authority, also by Ellis; an alternate-universe Justice League; Batman in several incarnations). But not being familiar with Planetary or The Authority, the stories didn't really make a lot of sense to me.

But then I got to Global Frequency, which grabbed me right away, and I zipped through the first two collections (six issues each). They're all written by Ellis but drawn by a variety of artists, so each story has its own style, ranging from typical comic-book fare to photo-realism. The premise: a mysterious (of course) Mirando Zero heads a rescue organization called Global Frequency, made up of around 1000 operatives, each an expert in his or her field. They communicate with fancy satellite phones, connected to a central hub run by Aleph, a punk girl with a gift for multi-tasking.

The stories run the gamut from government conspiracies and military secrets to alien invasions to action-movie shoot-em-outs, and a few are a little weak, but on the whole it's a fun concept that allows for a broad spectrum of threats. Some are more fanciful, but a lot are probably inspired at least in part by actual events, theories, or phenomena: satellites armed with kinetic harpoons, memetic attacks, weaponized viruses... Also, while the "experts" seem to be pretty heavy on the action-hero variety, some stories bring in characters like magicians, parapsychologists, computer geeks, and even a Le Parkour runner.

One big plot problem I found had to do with the public perception of Global Frequency: it seemed to be the sort of thing people had heard of but weren't sure existed. Yet many times operatives use the line "You're on the global frequency" as if to say, "Hey, you're in on this now, get moving." And everyone responds. In a world like that, wouldn't Global Frequency impostors crop up all the time? Oh, well.

The stories that are almost entirely action sequences aren't nearly as captivating as the plotlines with more subtlety and mystery. One storyline from "Detonation Radio," set in Japan, is one of the creepiest things I've read in comics. My other favorites are about an angel sighting in Iceland and a race to save Chicago.

Not without flaws, but a great read nonetheless. Exactly the sort of thing Hollywood will probably take and make into a terrible movie.

Fed to jonathan's brain | August 07, 2006 | Comments (0)


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