Transmetropolitan, Vol. 1: Back on the StreetTransmetropolitan, Vol. 1: Back on the Street by Warren Ellis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A wild and wacky ride through a dystopian future society as seen through the lens of renegade journalist Spider Jerusalem. Apart from having one of the coolest names I’ve come across in fiction, this guy is a certified nut job who seems like he can go off at any given moment. However, the mastery of the writing ensures that he also elicits some level of empathy and sympathy from the readers. And the world built up here definitely needs all the help it can get to elicit something other than a general sense of disgust.

The comic opens up with a wild a feral looking Jerusalem, who has been living up in the mountains for the last 5 years to get away from the city life he grew to despise, receiving a call on unheeded contracts for which he had received payouts 5 years prior. Reluctantly, he realizes he would need to return to the city and start working in order to pay off his debts. He walks back right into an even more depraved society than the one he left, and in no time finds himself smack in the middle of a riot involving transients (humans who want to live as other animals and are in the process of transforming) and the police force sent to put them down. The resulting coverage gains him new stardom and an assistant from the paper. The rest of this volume is made up of the ensuing adventures of the two with various aspects of this world. This includes a highly entertaining one where all Spider does is watch television, streaming between hundreds of channels and despairing at the gist of the broadcasts. Another one, which felt a bit over the top in its sermonizing was one where he and Channon attack a religious convention set up for the rapidly burgeoning number of new religious leaders. Though, in principle, I agreed with his rants.

The point is, apart from still being relevant (perhaps even more so now) and topical, it is also incredibly entertaining and engrossing. The world building is not laid out to us immediately, but through the stories we can piece together the varying levels of debauched sensibilities which exist. And Spider is a genuinely interesting protagonist (or antagonist?) for the most part. I would love to indulge in a few more volumes of this fascinating series. Highly recommended. But a word of warning. The language, while amazingly innovative in its vitriolic usage, can get a trifle too colorful for those of weaker disposition. Oh, and watch out for the bowel disruptor too.

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