Friday, December 23, 2011

GN Review -- Transmetropolitan: Lust for Life / Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson

I picked up the first volume of Transmetropolitan, entitled Back on the Street, and was blown away by it. This second volume continues the story of Spider Jerusalem and his journalistic adventures in The City, with the raw, in-your-face tone and dark satire of human culture intact, as well as a healthy dose of mishaps in store for our favorite ball-busting columnist.

The first half of the book is a series of three stories, involving human consciousness downloads into a nanotech life-form, the woes encountered by humans cryogenically frozen and revived from the past, and a very futuristic and literal take on what a human cultural reservation is. The final half is a three-part story in which Jerusalem is systematically cut off from his support at his newsfeed, the Word, and then hunted by a group of people for a crime his wife committed right before she had her head cryogenically frozen.

Through it all we see Spider's relationships with people, past and present, and how his pursuit of a story for his column has wrecked people's lives in a big way. A police dog (who presumably used to be human) has a huge bone to pick with him due to a past incident or two, and his relationship with his assistant, Channon, crumbles further as he fails to demonstrate enough compassion for the situations she's currently enduring. And one of the Word's staff, a former assistant to Spider, has a big grudge against him, going so far as to sell him out to assassins, for a perceived wrong he committed while they were on the job years ago.

In a way, the former half of the book supports the latter half, since the exploration of different future cultures and life forms inform the people hunting Jerusalem, while the cryonics plays a part in how Jerusalem's wife was being preserved. Both arcs are engaging and entertaining, often swapping insightful and cynical observations about human nature with the teeth-gritting, eye-popping rage that Jerusalem so often feels or invokes in others. Whether it's his editor Royce's feverish cigarette-smoking anxiety over Jerusalem's status and fate; Jerusalem's wife, currently dead, loudly and viciously flipping her husband off from her virtual nirvana; or Jerusalem's own subdued condemnation of the human culture of the time, one that has no interest in learning from the past or its denizens, there's no doubt that Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson know how to pack a wallop when they tell a story.

Transmetropolitan continues to shock and entertain me as I read it. Spider's a cynical bastard who loves pressing people's buttons in his pursuit for the story, with friends who'd as soon punch his lights out as give him an exclusive interview or do him a favor. Lust for Life keeps the wheels spinning, ensuring I'll return to this series whenever I get the opportunity. In the meantime, I'd urge anyone who hasn't read this angry, insightful series to give it a try. It just may become your next guilty pleasure. Or un-guilty pleasure. Highly recommended.

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