Transmetropolitan: Gouge Away

Transmet6The Short Version: His column having been “D-Listed” by the government, Spider Jerusalem is feeling a little listless these days.  He’s become a part of the system – there’s even a freaking porn parody of him.  It’s enough to get a man down… or get him thinking about new creative ways to get back up.  And if there’s one thing Spider will always be, it’s one crafty son of a bitch.

The Review: After the scary conclusion of Lonely City, it was anyone’s guess as to what would happen next for Spider.  There was a real sense of… not mortality, not quite – perhaps just fear.  Real fear, for himself and for Channon and Yelena – and, just maybe, for the city (and the country) too.  So it wasn’t a surprise to see him open this collection bouncing around the apartment jacked up on a crazy amount of drugs, raving about something or other.

But that lack of surprise – that sensation that, oh yes, we know exactly what’s happening for Spider – made me a little concerned.  I picked up this volume today on purpose: it’s a rainy day here in the City and I wanted something to take my mind off of an otherwise rather irritating day.  I wasn’t – gasp – desensitized, was I?  Or worse, Ellis & co hadn’t lost their touch, had they?  I mean, there are some inspired moments (and some wonderful guest art) in that first issue – the various faux-Spiders were particularly funny – but even a few issues in, I was wondering if the shock had worn off.

I should take a moment here to interrupt myself and say that even as I was ‘worried’ about getting ‘used to’ this series… I was still reveling in the character development Ellis brings to these people.  The one-shot with Channon and Yelena going shopping – and the further hints that Yelena is becoming her own version of Spider – was beautiful, especially coming on the heels of that first-issue flashback, with the TV show about Spider’s life.  Seeing Channon again for the first time, admittedly cartooned out in every way, made me realize just how far these girls have come and almost without us noticing.  Spider’s noticed, of course – that’s probably been the whole point – but for the reader, they’ve just grown naturally.  It’s the same way that you can’t really chart your own growth as a kid – you can measure it and say “wow, I’m two inches taller than I was a month ago” but you never really feel it in the moment.  Rather, you’re suddenly six feet tall and wondering how that happened.  Same thing here.

Anyway, back to my nerves:
HOWEVER.  In the back half of the collection, the three issues that give this collection its name, I saw that my fears were misplaced: the sentiment has changed, a little, and the shock of the future-metropolis has maybe gotten a bit old hat… but it most certainly hasn’t stagnated, if that paradox makes any sense.  Indeed, Spider’s crusade has stepped up to a whole new level of depravity and insanity: he’s taking the fight to where the Smiler can’t touch him.

Also, side note: that little blip of the Smiler we got?  With the American flag?  Firstly, I didn’t even recognize him – the Presidency seems to’ve cracked that facade a bit.  But secondly?  Hilarious – and terrifying.  Equal amounts of intense emotions there.
Anyway – so we’re looking at a whole ‘nother angle for Spider now.  This is, perhaps, what Spider has been meant for the whole time, ever since Royce convinced him to come down out of the mountains.  Even that first setup, with the dingy apartment and all that… I think (and it seems like Ellis bears this out) Spider felt bored.  As though this was old hat – the same as it ever was.  But now, the stakes are raised – and Ellis leaves us at the edge of uncharted territory.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.  This one gets a happy ending, as these things go, but I’ve not got my hopes up in any measurable sense.       I fear that things are going to go dark before they get lighter for our dear Spider… but as I look into this world of present shock and idiotic media outlets, I once again cannot help but long for a Spider of our own.  Someone to shake the people up – although even Ellis manages to poke fun at himself on this one, in one of those aforementioned TV episodes, when “Spider” quells the riots because his column was **LIGHTS AND CHOIRS AND AHHHHH** THE TRUTH!!
Still, a world with Spider Jerusalem is better than one without.  Just hope you aren’t on the wrong side of his bowel disruptor.

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