Global Frequency: Planet Ablaze

July 2, 2008

Highly innovative ideas are only sometimes ideas that no one else has thought of before. Some are ideas that aren’t too unlikely to pop up, but one brushes them aside quickly for being too commonsensically stupid to pursue. Take, for example, this plan for a comic series: have a worldwide rescue organisation made up of ordinary folks. Imagine it so vast that you practically re-begin with brand new characters every chapter.

Now, that’s suicidal. It means that you must establish characters in rapid strokes and that, once this is done well, you throw them all out on your next outing to start again from scratch. It means that you don’t have the luxury of relying on familiar knowns to help carry your tale through the random lulls; you literally have to strike the right note all the time, frame after frame. Hit the wrong note and a plot either fragments or spins into dull predictability or a protagonist fails to attract or appear rounded enough.

To succeed as consistently as Warren Ellis has in Volume 1 is a narrative wonder. Global Frequency is the name of a secret telecommunications network for 1,001 chosen individuals around the globe trained to stop a disaster or end a crime at the push of a phone button. Its gungho leader Mirando Zero and its resident Oracle-like information broker and point-woman Aleph are the only 2 persons who will re-appear in the series.

Each chapter has an ingeniously different crisis with different sleeping operatives recalled; it also has a different drawing team with the first volume starring Garry Leach, Glenn Fabry, Liam Sharp, Steve Dillon, Roy Martinez, Jon J. Muth, and David Lloyd. Ellis’s crazy project almost seems to consider these distinctive artists as Global Frequency operatives themselves.  The standalone episodes are so tight, snappy, and elegant that you would be waiting with bated breath in no time for each of their brilliant 3-panel finishes.

Gweek gives this collection 10 eerie ringtones.

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