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Comics You May Love (Despite Yourself): Transmetropolitan

Time to share another comic with everyone!  This is one of my all-time favorites, with lots of snarky irreverence and social commentary – a series called Transmetropolitan, written by Warren Ellis. The series hero is Spider Jerusalem, a kick-ass gonzo-style journalist in a sort of cyberpunk future. The series starts off with Spider living as a hermit with no technology, no hygiene and no clothes on a mountain outside the big city. The problem is that he has a two-book deal for books he has not written that were due probably years ago, a publisher breathing down his neck for them, and he’s spent pretty much his entire advance and has no more cigarette money. So he girds his loins with hatred, shaves his head and beard, puts on clothes and heads back to the city to write some articles again.

With the help of his filthy assistants, Spider fights the good fight, trying to expose the corruption and stupidity that is threatening to ruin the entire world (sound at all familiar?), hating his fellow humans and hating that he has to save them from themselves, but unable to stop himself doing something about it because it drives him so insane. He makes a laughingstock of the idiots who are mutilating themselves in ridiculous ways in the name of fashion; he uncovers severe cases of police brutality and stops a riot; and he takes on his biggest challenge of exposing the evil represented by the jackasses running for public office in the big election.  There is also – I won’t lie – a great deal of drug use and cursing and sex, but even that has its point – the only way Spider can deal with the horrifying society he lives in is by finding ways to temporarily escape it.

I like Transmetropolitan because I identify so much with Spider Jerusalem. He gets so frustrated by the way people around him refuse to think for themselves, instead letting the ever-present media tell them what to think and what to do. He hates them for their laziness and stupidity, and yet he really wants to believe they don’t have to be that way. I feel that way on pretty much a daily basis. The social and cultural issues that Ellis tackles are extremely relevant to our current sociopolitical situation, as all good sci-fi should be. And on top of all of that, it’s irreverent and hilarious and beautifully drawn by Darick Robertson. I highly recommend the series to anyone who revels in sharp, snarky societal commentary and/or is a Hunter S. Thomspon fan. I love this series, and I think it should be required reading in high schools to hopefully shock some of those kids out of the lazy complacency our society seems to prize these days. It should be required reading for society at large, actually.

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