Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Book Review: Transmetropolitan, Vol 3

book cover for Transmetropolitan, volume 3The first two volumes got readers acquainted with Spider Jerusalem and the city that he loves to hate. The stories were primarily single or double issues with the overall narrative running in the background. Volume three gives us a story over six issues, "Year of the Bastard."

The presidential election is coming up, and the Opposition Party convention is in town. Spider is assigned to cover it. Two candidates figure prominently, and Spider wants to know if either is capable of taking down the current president, aka "The Beast". He interviews one and attends a campaign rally for the other. Neither of which make him feel good inside. As the convention convenes and a candidate is nominated, Spider smells a rat and digs until he finds the truth.

With the departure of his first personal assistant, Spider receives a new one: his editor's niece, Yelena. Spider's not exactly a charmer, so it doesn't take long for her to hate him. While resolving their conflict, Ellis gives a bit of insight into Spider. There's also a back-and-forth between Spider and Vita Severn, a political director for one of the candidate's campaigns. She recognizes the importance of having the press on her side, and he enjoys the access to the candidate that she provides. But there's more going on there.

Written over 1998-1999, it is just as relevant now as then. Besides the obvious oversaturation of media in our daily lives, there's the politics. This quote from Vita Severn about one of the candidates sounds like it could've been about the 2016 campaign:
"His Florida campaign for the candidacy rested entirely upon cultural and economic divides, the exploitation of tensions and the vestiges of prejudice. His appearance in Sanford looked like a Nuremberg rally."
Spider relies on the usual assortment of cigarettes, booze, pills, and sex to help him cope with his resurgent celebrity as well as sift through all the political bullshit. Inspiration is typically the result of intuition and amplified by the biochemical mixture in his system. After the binge required to write a column, there's always the comedown and hangover. Copious amounts of coffee and cigarettes get him through it. Going forward, it might take more than that. While this volume has concluded, it is clearly just the first act in a much larger story arc.

Darick Robertson's artwork continues to vividly convey the story. All of the characters' emotions, the action, the minutiae of city life, and the chaos of the political maelstrom are exquisitely rendered in fine detail.

4 stars.


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