Comic: "Transmetropolitan"
Published by: DC Comics
Written by: Warren Ellis
Artist: Darick Robertson

Reviewer: Protoclown
Posted: 2/7/2008

Plot: Perpetually enraged gonzo journalist Spider Jerusalem uses his media fame to fight corruption in the government and bring down not just one, but two power-abusing Presidents.

Review: Like Neil Gaiman's Sandman, Garth Ennis's Preacher, or Alan Moore's Watchmen, Transmetropolitan is Warren Ellis's magnum opus, the work against which all of his subsequent material will be judged. I'm sure that writing something of this caliber is a mixed blessing--while it's no doubt extremely satisfying to have created such an awesome work, it's also got to be frustrating for a writer to hear fans say about their later work "Eh, it's not as good as X". And that's not to say that these guys haven't gone on to create some wonderful things--it's just that some stuff is damned near impossible to top.

Transmetropolitan is a series written for cynical, snarky bastards, and its main character Spider Jerusalem (based not so subtly on Hunter S. Thompson) is the snarkiest, most cynical of them all. Set at an undefined time somewhere in the future, Transmetropolitan takes place in an also-undetermined City (most analogous to New York), and it is upon this backdrop that Warren Ellis pins his scathing socio-political commentary. And if you think politics are boring, you've never seen them dealt with like this.

Spider's quest for justice is anything but dull, as he employs weapons like his Bowel Disrupter and the "Chair Leg of Truth" to get to the heart of his story. He also frequently enlists the aid of his two female sidekicks, or "filthy assistants" as he likes to call them. You'll have a lot of fun watching this team-of-three setting up two presidents, the Beast and the Smiler (as Spider has nicknamed his arch-nemeses) for a long, hard fall. Both of these presidential characters clearly take a lot of inspiration from Richard Nixon, but it's also hard not to see echoes of our current US administration in here (which is interesting, because this book ended in 2002).

But Transmetropolitan doesn't limit its scrutiny to politics, dealing with many other interesting themes and issues, including religion, racism, sexuality, drugs, class warfare, the media, the effects of advertising, the destructive nature of fame, and countless others. It's a testament to the popularity of the comic that Spider Jerusalem is one of the most iconic and recognizable non-superhero comic book characters of all time. How cool is he? In a foreword to one of the trade paperback collections, Patrick Stewart discussed how much he loved the book and would love to play the character some day (unfortunately he's a bit too old for it). You can't beat an endorsement by Patrick Stewart.

When the President known as "the Smiler" uses his influence to get Spider fired from his job at The Word, the largest paper in "The City", our heroic journalist is hardly deterred from his quest, and strikes out on a personal independent crusade. Spider's just the kind of guy you wish we had in our sad, spineless real-life media, the kind of guy who has the visibility, resources, and most importantly, the nerve to take a bold stand against something he knows is wrong. In Spider's world, the truth really does transcend all else.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWholeHalf
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Amicable Herculean
Feb 7th, 2008, 08:32 PM
I've been hearing a lot of good things about this book, But I could never seem to find it. The closest thing I have to this book is the Action Figure. I don't know if you take requests or not, but if it's not too much trouble, I would love to see a review of "Red Son" on I-Mockery sometime.
The Goddamned Batman
Feb 7th, 2008, 09:10 PM
You know, I haven't actually read "Red Son" yet. But it's on my list of things to get around to...
The Magnificent Bastard
Feb 7th, 2008, 11:02 PM
Wow, this sounds fantastic!

Next time I'm at the comic-book store, I'll definitely see if they have it.

Anyway, I'm kind of hoping to see a "Johnny The Homicidal Maniac" review on this site. It's a favourite of mine.
I see you!
Feb 8th, 2008, 12:18 AM
I was actually thinking of picking this up already as a friend had mentioned it to me a while ago. But since I found your recommendations "Preacher" and "Y-The Last Man" so interesting that your endorsement is enough to convince me.
CEO Boobs
Feb 8th, 2008, 01:19 AM
I just read through the whole series recently and it instantly became one of my favorite books ever. The ending really put a smile on my face.
Feb 8th, 2008, 02:38 PM
We need more people like Spider Jerusalem.
Pickleman's Uncle
Feb 8th, 2008, 09:47 PM
Definitely great. Sort of naive in a way with the whole "fight the power" message and whatnot, but all the jokes that pertain to futuristic situations and gadgets are awesome.

Not epic, but still great as hell.
Still, Preacher is the best thing ever.
Official Punching Bag
Feb 8th, 2008, 10:33 PM
Somehow I know my Hunter S. Thompson fan buddy would love this.
Official Punching Bag
Feb 9th, 2008, 02:39 AM
You know, it's about time there was an article done for The Sandman. Preacher and Transmetropolitan have got their own articles, but Sandman has been left out.

Apart from this, other comics like Strangers in Paradise deserve a review.

However, a good balance of Marvel/DC/Indie comics reviews would, I feel, introduce I-Mockery visitors to more than their usual horizons of the medium.

It's a good series of articles, Protoclown. It really is.
The Goddamned Batman
Feb 9th, 2008, 03:13 AM
Sandman is coming. We've got to mix it up a bit, and we don't want to blow through all the good stuff right off the bat.
Fookin' up planets!
Feb 9th, 2008, 03:48 AM
It's funny you say that Jakeofalltrades, I am a "Huge" Hunter S, Thompson fan and could never really get past Spider Jerusalem's overly caricatured version of one of this nations most absurd, prolific and amazing journalists Hunter S. Thompson.
Official Punching Bag
Feb 9th, 2008, 06:36 AM
Interesting. Well, you can't keep them all happy. I guess it all depends on what viewpoint you have of Thompson.

Proto: I understand completely. There's been so many reviews of good stuff I can't remember the last time you reviewed something awful outside of a Tales From The Longbox article!
From the Home of MST3K
Feb 9th, 2008, 10:40 AM
I love this comic so much it hurts.

And yeah, I wish that our media had someone as bull-headed about the truth.

Or that I had the balls to be one myself.
Forum Virgin
Feb 9th, 2008, 01:23 PM
Why aren't people clamoring for an article on Marvel/MiracleMan? It's a near-perfect piece of art. I'm not clamoring myself, as I understand the concept of not wanting to blow the graphic-novel wad all in one month, but I keep seeing questions about Sandman and other fan-faves and no mention of the big Double-M. On the other hand, it may be kinda frustrating to try reviewing an unfinished story.
The Goddamned Batman
Feb 10th, 2008, 03:18 AM
There's that, but there's also the frustration of it being insanely difficult to find copies that aren't insanely overpriced, so a review will only serve the purpose of telling people "here's something really cool that you'll never ever find and be able to read for yourself". I was fortunate enough to borrow and read it all a while back, and I have a few of the early issues myself, but it's been years since I've read it and unfortunately my memory's a bit fuzzy.
Fookin' up planets!
Feb 10th, 2008, 05:07 AM
Don't get me wrong, the comic had it's bonuses, I just always felt that the only person who should toy with Dr. Thompson's likeness (in any form) it should be Dr. Thompson....
Or Johnny Depp (He had the good Dr's blessing, even spending massive amounts of time with Thompson).
Ordinary Blogger
Feb 10th, 2008, 08:43 PM
I would love to hear your thoughts on Great lakes avengers wither theyare good or bad and the comics our cheap to find
mmmm....custom user title
Feb 22nd, 2008, 08:47 PM
Ive only been able to find one of the collections but its one of my favorite comics. The way Spider delivers his opinion is brutal and i suppose thats why its refreshing