My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Transmetropolitan is a comic book, and anyone remotely interested in dystopias needs to immediately stop what she is doing, go buy all these books, and read them before continuing with life. Yes, it’s that good.
This is a review for ALL 10 collected volumes. I’m going to write the review in the style of the comics, so if you’re ridiculously sensitive to explicit language, you’d better stop reading now. (But it’s really your loss.)
To say Spider Jerusalem is a muckraking journalist is to put it lightly. No–Spider does not just rake muck; he wallows in it while tripping on sixteen kinds of heroine pumped directly into his veins through the City’s sewers while he ejaculates into the ensuing muck. He is dirty, foul, horrible–and the only goddamn person left in the entire City who has the balls to take on the corrupt government and the injustices of a city of the future.
He is a despicable, low-down uncaring asshole because he cares too much to let the city (and the country) destroy itself through ignorance and petty distractions.
So: Transmetropolitan follows journalist Spider Jerusalem as he gets reacquainted with the City, a (not far enough) far-future metropolis swarming with all the problems of real cities, if the problems were turned to 11 and injected with a form of swarming AIDS. In the style of many brilliant authors before him, Ellis is working with hyper-exaggerated features of the real world to show us the many problems with our own–and it’s unnerving.
First, be impressed with the level of deranged thought Ellis has put into his City: of course there is porn for children! And people commonly eat the meat of endangered animals–or heck, try out some food from Long Pig (don’t worry, they’re only clones!). “Maker” technology allows you to create pretty much anything at home, and journalists sometimes employ “source gas” to record info from unwitting sources while still managing to make it past security. While you’re enjoying the future, make sure you get one of the many DNA splices–try the one that allows you to take massive doses of drugs and alcohol without dying. Or maybe you’re totally past the human experience–why not join the Transients and splice with alien DNA? Or really embrace the cloud and become nothing more than a bunch of floating molecules. Groovy.
It’s amazing, and immersive, and simultaneously plausible and disgustingly far-fetched.
Much like Spider Jerusalem. It’s like the Deadpool of journalists, seemingly throwing normal tactics out the window. But really, he’s just good. In fact, I know journalists like him. Spider is, if anything, alarmingly realistic. He’s devoted in a time when many reporters seem like shills. He’s dogged and willing to take risks. He has a gift for it, something that can’t really be taught and must come from some burning fuel within. He’s addicted to the thrill of the chase–and sometimes that puts people he talks to in the line of danger. But mostly, that makes people want to open up to him. Because he loves them, even while he hates them to the core.
In other words, Spider Jerusalem is my hero. I want to give Warren Ellis a hug for writing something so transgressive, so daring and truly sickening, and I want to make this series required reading for EVERYONE. The world would be better for it if more people paid as much attention to goings-on as Spider does.
Go buy these books. You may find it hard to read them sometimes, but don’t you dare fucking stop. You need to take your medicine, world.