Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Transmetropolitan was a postcyberpunk comic book series written by Warren Ellis with art by Darick Robertson . It concerned the battles of Spider Jerusalem, infamous renegade gonzo journalist of the future. Jerusalem dedicates himself to fighting the corruption and abuse of power of two successive United States presidents; he and his assistants strive to keep their world from turning more dystopian than it already is.
The monthly series ended after five years in publication with the 60th issue, and is reprinted in ten trade paperback volumes. Two collections of short vignettes illustrated by different artists have also been published, I Hate It Here and Filth of the City.
Spider Jerusalem begins the story as a long-haired private estate dweller who has retired from the City life, and from writing for a living. When he runs out of money and is threatened by the "whorehopper" to whom he owes two books, he is forced to pack his car and drive south back into the City —a twisted amalgam of pervasive consumerism, sex, violence, and drugs. The City (never named, but the Statue of Liberty appears to give it away as New York) is the largest in the world, and the center of the political and social culture. Jerusalem returns to working for his old partner Mitchell Royce, who now edits The Word, the City's largest newspaper.
The first of the two main storylines centers around Jerusalem's relationship to the current president, the man whose common nickname "The Beast" is among one of the various reasons he has for hating Spider. Spider soon picks up two sidekicks, Yelena Rossini and Channon Yarrow, who become his full-time partners in his journalistic battles.
The second storyline involves the election and corrupt presidency of Gary Callahan, nicknamed "The Smiler," soon revealed to be even worse than The Beast, whom Spider had badly wanted to see leave office. Jerusalem's investigations delve into the new president's well-cleansed background, immoral campaign tactics, and the assassination of Vita Severn—the Smiler's campaign manager, to whom Spider had taken a rare liking.
Some of the characters and events in Transmetropolitan seem to be loosely based on reality. Spider Jerusalem (named after science fiction author Spider Robinson) himself is clearly a futuristic re-imagining of previous "yellow" or "gonzo" journalists such as H.L. Mencken and Hunter S. Thompson (as well as an alter ego for Warren Ellis). In this respect, Jerusalem is figuratively a half-brother to Uncle Duke from Trudeau's Doonesbury. Similarly, the Smiler is identified with Thompson's nemesis, President Richard Nixon, through caricatures of key moments in Nixon's career, such as the Checkers speech and his helicopter departure from the White House. Indeed, both the Beast and the Smiler paraphrase Nixon's comment, "When the President does it, that means it's not illegal." With his fixed grin, penchant for spin and self conscious 'man of the people' image, the Smiler also bears a passing resemblance to Tony Blair, Ellis' own Prime Minister. The mass uprisings and clashes with police forces that occur in the series may be inspired by the social unrest of the sixties and early seventies.
In addition, a campaign poster for the Smiler has the heading "there ought to be limits to freedom," a direct quote from George W. Bush. Bush made the remark during the 2000 presidential race, in response to a website parodying his campaign .
The series was originally published under DC Comics's then-new science fiction Helix imprint. When the Helix line was discontinued, Transmetropolitan—the only ongoing series of the line which had not been canceled—was switched to the Vertigo imprint, starting with issue #13. The entire set of paperback collections are now published under the Vertigo label.
Transmetropolitan contains a number of continuity errors. The most noticeable (and the hardest to explain away) occurs when the photographer Mary produces a picture supposedly taken with a camera which she did not receive until well after the event she had photographed. Another notable glitch occurs in the same storyline, in which the name of a hotel, originally reported as the Hotel Fat, is changed to the Hotel Avalon. Compounding the error, this renaming takes place in a speech repeated otherwise word-for-word from the original issue.
- Vol. 1: Back on the Street
- Vol. 2: Lust for Life
- Vol. 3: Year of the Bastard
- Vol. 4: The New Scum
- Vol. 5: Lonely City
- Vol. 6: Gouge Away
- Vol. 7: Spider's Thrash
- Vol. 8: Dirge
- Vol. 9: The Cure
- Vol. 10: One More Time
- Vol. 0: Tales of Human Waste (containing I Hate It Here and Filth of the City)
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