Transmetropolitan: Lust for Life

July 22, 2009

A funny thing happened between my review of Volume 1 and this review of Volume 2. Vertigo has suddenly snapped to its senses and started to release a new edition of Transmetropolitan. In its revamped version, the first volume expands from its early sampler size (Prestige format in geek-talk) to standard trade-paperback thickness. This masterly trick is achieved by turning the formerly generous Volume 2 into a thinner offering. I suppose that vanity collectors everywhere will now be salivating at the thought of how stunning these evenly-wide Transmets will look on the shelf when the re-release is complete by — oh I don’t know — maybe 2050?

To be sure, I’m using the old edition, which still gives me one of the best thrills-per-dollar treats in comics ever. After the stunt pulled by Spider Jerusalem with his real-time riot news feed, he is back riding the wave of fame in The City. His editor rewards him with a swanky up-market apartment, in which he struts around butt-naked almost the whole time, and an assistant — read secretary, minder, bodyguard, eye-candy, and house-cleaner — a smart-mouthed ex-stripper called Channon Yarrow. Their strictly work (yeaaa…) relationship will form a key cornerstone of this series, as will the consequences of their first wild adventure: threatening the President of the United States (when he’s leaking, no less). It is a taste of things to come: Warren Ellis will go full gear into an all-out assault on the sacred cows of modern American world culture from mindless politics to mindless media culture, from religious commercialism to commercialised religions.

In fact, Ellis will have you in sacrilegious stitches very quickly as Spider goes on his own crusade against postmodern superstition and all that weird post-hyper-New-Age stuff. And he chooses to do the Jesus thing of booting the buyers and sellers in the House of God and to do it the Spider way, meaning, well, dressing up as Jesus. The point here is actually rather well made: by the time Spider is swearing and beating, ranting that all these are “getting away with it in a place no one could hear the truth if it were ever told”, you know exactly what he means. You know just who Spider Ellis is talking about. Such vulgar but hilarious commentary reminds us, lest we forget, that Ellis can do Garth Ennis as well as, if not better than, Ennis.

Then, it is off to the science-mad Foglet industry that has totally revolutionised hedonism by pushing the possibilities of digital transference. One can apparently upload one’s essence into a cloud of a few billion nano-machines, which then fulfils one’s wishes of becoming or creating anything at thought speed. Following this, we get a crazily moving sci-fi glimpse into a foundation that exploits twenty-first-century exhaustion and fear of death by cryo-freezing anyone for resurrection later in a new age and a new 20-year-old body. Very tempting? Well, the catch is not something you haven’t already seen in the news with all those wall-banging makeover dramas. Or just think Michael Jackson.

And Ellis is just getting started as this volume rolls on its non-stop assault on everything you had thought was exciting in the Near Future. There’s a trip to the Reservations where the old “natural world” and whole human cultures — a heaven for streaker-friendly Spider — are preserved. But, by this time, Channon has already moved beyond Mistake #2, that is, being employed for Spider’s egomaniac indulgences (Mistake #1 was being with her boyfriend), to Mistake #3: becoming a bride of Christ, Fred Christ. To stop Channon from making the worst error ever, Spider has to first keep out his own assassins and a very, very mean bulldog out for blood. But who is Fred Christ? Got you hooked, doesn’t it? This is easily the most perfect Transmet volume or, I dare say happily, comic collection of sci-fi stories to date.

Gweek gives this volume 10 shouts of Hallelujahs. Knock 1 off if you’re using the new edition and add it to Volume 1.

One Response to “Transmetropolitan: Lust for Life”

  1. […] here:  Transmetropolitan: Lust for Life « Gweek Culture: World of … Web Mirror | No Kindle Required — iPhone App Review – News …» […]

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