Thousand faced-Transmetropolitan

Writer-Warren Ellis
Artist: Darrick Robertson
Publisher: DC Comics

This is a series that puts the “dis” in dystopian. What sick road are the likes of the Koch brothers, Fox News and The Tea Party taking us down? It is the road to ruin and that’s where Spider Jerusalem dwells. Spider is the natural heir to journalists who use words like blunt instruments of savagery. He is Dr. Hunter S. Thompson in a grave new world where science has only streamlined the horror and made it deliverable to the maddened masses at speeds light years ahead on mere internet. Soon we will live in Idiocracy with drooling morons clutching rusty razors scratching their scabies-ridden crotches in a urine-pooled alleyway happy to kill because it’s much more fun than the video game they spend eighteen hours a day on; and we will be happy to have it because we will be told by a guy in uniform carrying a gun that we better just shut the fuck up and lovingly kiss the whip hand. Ohhh. That was yesterday’s news. In the future it gets worse. That’s good science fiction. It gets just a step or two from the news feeds and reveals the tiny man behind the curtain who cries for himself copiously while he self righteously robs his neighbors and his nation. I’d like to call it “cyberpunk” but I suspect it would seem trendy in an 80’s kind of archaic futurism way. Multi-colored mohawks anyone?

They say there will be a movie made of Transmetropolitan soon. Perhaps it will be the story arc from this very book. They say they have Tim Roth to play Spider Jerusalem. Tim Roth. I can tell you this: he is the perfect actor for this character. I am so invested in that idea that in Spider’s words, “I wouldn’t give two tugs on a dead dog’s cock” to see anybody else in the role. Spider-fucking-Jerusalem. He taints you. I’d love to be erudite and pour forth with the tasteful wordage to describe why you should like this book but I just can’t. I reread it just recently and it still slams you in the gut while blasting you in the face with nitrous oxide. I am giddy with anger and awe at Warren Ellis’ vision of the far too near future. The skill and cleverness by both Ellis and Robertson packed into Transmetropolitan is impressive. Ellis has created a character that simply bitch slaps your engrams into stinging awareness. Oh but it’s just a comic book isn’t it? Soon you’ll go back to diddling your consciousness with tweeting about your sorry-ass phone app when I’m done. Wanker!

This series begins with a naked, hairy Spider hiding in the mountains looking considerably like Alan Moore on a mescaline bender. Oh I’m sure that was a bloody accident weren’t it? He gets a call from his editor to investigate a deluded group of wackos who are protesting their society by injecting themselves with extraterrestrial DNA. You know the kind, fast and bulbous heads and large dark eyes sans pupils. They have a self-appointed messiah Fred Christ who leads this street level movement of disaffected youth and Spider is the only journalist who he will speak to because Spider knows him from the last time he oozed through the city. After an armed assault on his editors’ offices and acquiring an apartment with an AI on drugs, Mr. Jerusalem is ready to get down to work. On his way to the enclave he brutalizes some self-mutated guards who presume their small portion of power gives them the right to fuck with Spider. Oh you pitiful fools. He gets his interview to find Fred Christ is just another egomaniac determined to lead by delusion and knowing it. He doesn’t even drink his own Kool-Aid while he happily impregnates the stupid girls who swallow his bullshit while squeezing out babies. Spider has seen this all before and knows where it’s headed and he is right.

Soon the authorities have had enough of these graphic examples of just how much they are hated if the children are willing to make themselves monsters in order to be outside of society where Patti Smith wants to be. I’m sure Joe Jackson felt the same way whenever he saw Michael in the last few years. The riot police surround the neighborhood and move in as a wave of implacable violence and a media blackout comes with them. It wouldn’t do to let the public witness what atrocities are done to the naive for the temerity of wanting escape no matter how silly the method. Stop me if you’ve seen this before; or rather if you are seeing it now. Spider rushes to the scene leaving behind his three-eyed cigarette smoking kitty cat in his stoned domicile. Ellis and Robertson are wickedly funny and then just get wicked for awhile. Spider talks a bunch of strippers and their steroid-pumped dyke bouncers into letting him onto their clubs roof which overlooks the street where the horrible ultra violence is taking place. He is a talker and they follow him to witness because he makes them feel the need to. As truncheons break skulls and blood runs in the streets he types and smokes furiously. The feed from his laptop goes directly into network feeds and the city and even the whole world gets Spider’s insight and it is as repulsive as truth gets. Soon the police withdraw because exposure of their activities is always damning and might cause uncomfortable questions to be asked and perhaps budgets to be cut. The massacre ends and Spider in his dysfunctional way has made truth the ultimate weapon against the whores of power. Nobody but nobody is allowed to get away with that. A car full of cops finds him and delivers a savage beating, Broken and bleeding Spider watches the cops leave and begins to laugh his ass off. Why? He knows that if they were motivated to do that he must have really got to them and made it sting and more than fame, money, or even professional respect from his peers, striking back at “the man” is what makes it all worth it and that he was right to return to the city in order to nettle the shit-heels that have stolen the reins of power to do as they please. You see. I told you Spider Jerusalem taints you. I feel like getting the shit kicked out of me right now. Like in Wisconsin maybe?

by Bill Hilburn

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