Warren Ellis’ “Transmetropolitan” comic series is set in a not terribly distant, messy, chaotic future (far from any idea of a future utopia) with one lone journalist intent on telling the truth, Spider Jerusalem. As described by a friend, he is “a dirty bastard and a moral vacuum, but you couldn’t have a better friend.” Through Spider, Ellis gives a blistering indictment of politics, religion, and humanity in general. Lust for Life is the second graphic novel in the series. The first, Back on the Street, is a slim volume that gives Spider’s brief backstory. Annoyed with his level of fame and with cash advances for two books, Spider moved to the mountains to get away from the City. Five years later the novels aren’t written and the cash has run out. Reluctantly he heads back to the City, a place he loathes and loves. Reconnecting with an old editor, Royce, gets him a gig writing a column called “The Word”.
Lust for Life finds Spider back in the swing of being a journalist ever in search of next week’s column. Royce being wise to Spider’s procrastinating ways has hired a live in assistant, Channon, to keep him on track. Channon is a journalism student and hopes to learn from Spider. His first lesson, how to seek out a story, takes them to the President’s re-election speech. A chance encounter gives Spider the opportunity to unload on the President.
President: “Bullshit. You’re afraid of a real America. All you bleeding-heart pissants are the same.”
Spider: “There is no “Real America,” you living afterbirth! … All there is, is what we make it! And what you want to make it is a big fucking sore that oozes money like pus!“
Spider sets out to immerse himself in City television for an entire day to find out how TV works on the minds of City residents. Many hours in he comes across call in shows and begins calling in to correct the lies, also to berate the hosts and audience members.
You people don’t know what the truth is! It’s there, just under their bullshit, but you never look! That’s what I hate most about this fucking city–lies are news and truth is obsolete!”
Other adventures include visiting a religious convention with every type of faith imaginable. Helping Channon through a friend transitioning from a human body to becoming a ‘foglet’, a million tiny machines strung together with lightning. Sharing the story of the mistreatment of people who were cryogenically frozen in the past, reanimated, and then shoved into an uncaring world.
The Transmetropolitan comics started being released in 1997. I discovered them in the early 2000s and thought them brilliant social commentary. Sadly the commentary is still just as relevant today, 25 years later. These are definitively adult comics. Garth Ennis describes Transmetropolitan thusly, “Here is a city filled with every sin you can imagine, and a few that have been imagined for you. Here is Spider Jerusalem, the cranky, miserable bastard who will guide you through the future Babylon. Here is the finest, blackest humor, and purest hate, and a sense of justice hissed through gritted teeth. And here, as unexpected and natural as a stripper’s tears, is a little vein of ordinary humanity.” The series isn’t for everyone but worth the time if that description appealed to you.
I did my first bingo black out!!!