Global Frequency: Detonation Radio

July 3, 2008

Before Heroes, there was Global Frequency — that is, had Warner Brothers not canned the series after someone leaked its unaired pilot onto the internet in 2005. Way to go, TV gurus: this could have been the X-Files for a post-9/11 paranoid but bellicose generation with common uncommon enemies the world over. You just couldn’t think big enough.

What is so intelligent about Warren Ellis’s Global Frequency universe is not only its compressed use of pictures and words which forces even wordless sequences to describe in exact vivid terms. It is not only the dense and sometimes almost Beckettian dialogues that go to the heart of each personal struggle with an unexpected “out-of-the-ordinary” and yet intuitively familiar crisis being confronted.

It is also how the rather radical notion in our age that direct and immediate action by individuals can change things precisely matches the frightening new world of our 21st century. The sci-fi genre here is merely a guise for the range of postmodern fears that leap at us from the secret corners where they brew while we worry about other fears. You know them all by now: commercial planes with bombs, unethical stem-cell research, black biotechnology, alien invasion via neuroprogramming, Star Wars weaponry, deep security compromise, etc.

This volume continues Ellis’s exciting title with a revolving door of artists: Simon Bisley, Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, Lee Bermejo, Tomm Coker, Jason Pearson, and Gene Ha. It also brings a sense of vulnerability closer to home by having a story each for Miranda Zero and Aleph, one captured and the other forced into taking offensive defence. The speed with which the series converges here, though, hints at what must be the obvious risk with such a project: Ellis appears to be running out of steam and plot variations to keep both his readers and himself interested. So Global Frequency may have been able to stop the bangs, but it goes out here with a whimper. You can almost hear Ellis shuffle.

Gweek hits this collection with 8 paint bombs.

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