Cover to Transmetropolitan Vol. 2 TPB.
Art by Darick Robertson.
|Publisher||Helix, Vertigo (imprints of DC Comics)|
|Genre||Cyberpunk, science fiction|
|Number of issues||60|
|Main character(s)||Spider Jerusalem
Transmetropolitan is a cyberpunk, transhumanist comic book series written by Warren Ellis and co-created and designed by Darick Robertson; it was published by American company DC Comics in 1997-2002. The series was originally part of the short-lived DC Comics imprint Helix, but upon the end of the book's first year the series was moved to the Vertigo imprint and DC Comics shut-down the Helix imprint. Transmetropolitan chronicles the battles of Spider Jerusalem, infamous renegade gonzo journalist of the future, an homage to gonzo journalism founder Hunter S. Thompson. Spider Jerusalem dedicates himself to fighting the corruption and abuse of power of two successive United States presidents; he and his "filthy assistants" strive to keep their world from turning more dystopian than it already is while dealing with the struggles of fame and power, brought about due to the popularity of Spider via his articles.
The monthly series began in July 1997 and concluded in September 2002. The series was later reprinted in an array of ten trade paperback volumes, and also featured two "specials" (I Hate It Here and Filth of the City) with text pieces written by the Spider Jerusalem character and illustrated by a wide range of comic artists. These were later collected in trade paperbacks.
Some time in the future (how long precisely is never specified, but said to be in the 23rd century) Spider Jerusalem, retired writer/journalist and bearded hermit, lives in an isolated, fortified mountain hideaway. Following a call from his irate publisher demanding the last two books per his publishing deal, Jerusalem is forced to descend into The City, a twisted hedonistic amalgam of pervasive consumerism, sex, violence, and drugs where one can indulge in taboo activities such as cannibalism and child prostitution as a part of daily life. This futuristic culture is highly self-centered and focused almost exclusively on the present. "Revivals" from cryogenic stasis are largely ignored and left to fend for themselves on the streets, and people almost never visit the cultural "Reservations" that were established to preserve past civilizations; these are now left to run the course of their timeline in peace, with the sole exception of the Republican Party Reservation, which has its own television show because it is a hotbed of sex and erotica. No one even knows the current calendar year (this fact revealed by Jerusalem in Issue #42), so dates of events are always referred to in relation to the present day or to famous events that occurred around the same time (such as the death of a celebrity); this disassociation from time causes a very odd relationship with infamous events of the past, including a chain of restaurants named after Jeffery Dahmer and the heavily sexualized glorification of Hitler and Nazi Germany.
Jerusalem returns to work for his old partner and editor Mitchell Royce, who now edits The Word, the City's largest newspaper. His first story is about an attempted secession by the Transient movement, people who use genetic body modification based on alien DNA to become a completely different species, who are forced to live in the Angels 8 slum district. The leader of the movement, Fred Christ, is paid to incite a riot and provoke the police, who use it as an excuse to clear out Angels 8. However, Jerusalem publishes a story revealing the truth and the brutal methods of the police; Royce publishes it live all over the city, and the public outcry forces the police to withdraw. Jerusalem is brutally beaten by police on his way home, but defiantly says that he is here to stay.
The first year of the series consists of a set of one-off stories exploring The City, Jerusalem's background, and his often tense relationship with his sidekicks, Yelena Rossini and Channon Yarrow (referred to as his 'filthy assistants'), who as the series progresses become full-time partners in his journalistic battles.
The main storyline of the series, the election and corrupt presidency of Gary Callahan (or "The Smiler"), begins in the series' second year and lasts the rest of its run. Spider initially considers Callahan the lesser evil compared to the incumbent president ("The Beast"), but his investigation into Callahan's past and his ties with a right-wing hate group lead to Callahan having his own campaign manager, Vita Severn, a friend of Jerusalem's, murdered. In a one-on-one meeting, Spider realizes that Callahan is not merely corrupt, but a complete lunatic who wants to be President solely to hurt people with his new power. To Jerusalem's horror and disgust, the people vote Callahan into office by a wide margin.
Once elected, Callahan begins to use his presidential power to torment Jerusalem, the source of his trouble during the campaign. Jerusalem narrowly escapes a police massacre of people protesting how a recent hate crime was investigated. The police refused to release video of the incident because it reveals several police officers watching the crime occur without interfering. Jerusalem writes a story revealing the truth about the crime and subsequent engineered massacre, but Callahan spikes it via "D-Notices", government censorship of stories that could "embarrass" the country and the Callahan administration. After being informed of this, Jerusalem leaks the story via a straight-text news feedsite called "The Hole" and follows it up with a story exposing Callahan's corrupt circle of advisers, one of whom is a pedophile. When Royce runs the story, Callahan forces the paper's board of directors to fire Jerusalem, who makes an agreement to publish his future stories with "The Hole". However, Callahan arranges for the City to be left defenseless from a hurricane-like "near-near-near ruinstorm" (an actual ruinstorm can skin anyone caught in it) that ravages the City and kills thousands, using the chaos to destroy the evidence Jerusalem has gathered against him, and places the city under martial law after the storm ends. Royce reveals that he had archived most of Jerusalem's evidence and delivers it to him on disk, but during the storm Jerusalem collapses and is diagnosed with an incurable degenerative neurological illness with similar symptoms to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, caused by constant exposure to the now-defunct informational substance known as I-Pollen. With about a year before dementia renders him dysfunctional and with only a 1% chance of escaping this fate, Jerusalem increases his vendetta against Callahan, ultimately exposing his evil deeds and bringing the President down.
In the final issue epilogue, Jerusalem returns to his mountain home. Royce comes to visit, and the assistants show him around the house while explaining that Jerusalem's disease is progressing. It is revealed that Channon has a book deal, and Yelena is taking a journalistic role similar to Jersualem's; Channon and Royce note that Yelena is his spiritual successor, displaying his trademark rage and passion as well as his talent. In the garden, Jerusalem tells Royce that the disease is so advanced that he cannot light his own cigarettes, and he forgets one day out of seven. However, when Royce leaves, Jerusalem pulls out a package of cigarettes and what appears to be a handgun. He appears to be placing the barrel under his chin, until it is revealed in the next panel that it is a lighter. He lights the cigarette and then spins the lighter on his finger, suggesting that he was in fact one of the 1% of patients who recover from the disease, and is now merely faking his illness so that he may enjoy his retirement in peace.
The series was originally published under DC Comics's then-new science fiction Helix imprint. When the Helix line was discontinued, Transmetropolitan was the only series of the line that had not been canceled, and was switched to the Vertigo imprint starting with issue #13. The entire set of trade paperbacks are now published under the Vertigo label.
In June 2015, Vertigo began releasing Transmetropolitan in the premium hardcover Absolute Edition format. The first volume included issues #1-18. The second volume, published in May 2016, included issues #19-36.
|Volume||Old Printing||ISBN||New Printing||ISBN|
|Vol. 1: Back on the Street||#1–3||ISBN 1-56389-445-9
|Vol. 2: Lust for Life||#4–12||ISBN 1-56389-481-5
|Vol. 3: Year of the Bastard||#13–18 and story from Vertigo: Winter's Edge II||ISBN 1-56389-568-4
|Vol. 4: The New Scum||#19–24 and story from Vertigo: Winter's Edge III||ISBN 1-56389-627-3
|#19–24 and stories from Vertigo: Winter's Edge II and III||ISBN 1-4012-2490-3
|Vol. 5: Lonely City||#25–30||ISBN 1-56389-722-9
|Vol. 6: Gouge Away||#31–36||ISBN 1-56389-796-2
|Vol. 7: Spider's Thrash||#37–42||ISBN 1-56389-894-2
|Vol. 8: Dirge||#43–48||ISBN 1-56389-953-1
|Vol. 9: The Cure||#49–54||ISBN 1-56389-988-4
|Vol. 10: One More Time||#55–60||ISBN 1-4012-0217-9
|#55–60 and the specials Transmetropolitan: I Hate It Here and Transmetropolitan: Filth of the City||ISBN 1-4012-3124-1
|Vol. 0: Tales of Human Waste||Contains specials Transmetropolitan: I Hate It Here and Transmetropolitan: Filth of the City along with "Edgy Winter" from Vertigo: Winter's Edge II||ISBN 1-4012-0244-6
|Content moved to Volume 10 (specials) and 4 (Winter's Edge)||N/A|
In other media
Co-creators Ellis and Robertson were approached about making a Transmetropolitan film adaptation, with Patrick Stewart's production company Flying Freehold Productions offering to option the rights in February 2003. Later, the burgeoning Internet boom led to an offer to create an online animated film series, with Stewart providing the voice of Spider Jerusalem, but the project never fully developed. Ellis and Robertson have been rumored to have indicated that they would like to see Tim Roth play Jerusalem; however, during a panel at London's Kapow! comic convention Ellis said that there is no chance of seeing Spider Jerusalem on the big screen and Tim Roth was not discussed to play him, and explained that production costs would be too high to bring Transmetropolitan to the big screen. In 2010, Ellis noted in his Twitter account that no production was underway.
Some items of Transmetropolitan merchandise have been made, Robertson himself having produced one T-shirt: a black shirt with a three-eyed smiley face on the front and the text "I Hate It Here" in yellow on the back. DC Direct has produced five products. One is a black T-shirt with an image of Spider Jerusalem from the comic with the text "Spider Jerusalem. Cheap. But not as cheap as your girlfriend". Early in the series they produced an action figure of Jerusalem wearing nothing but his trademark boxer shorts so as to show off his tattoos, and a variant that is giving the finger and holding a bowel disruptor. The third is a statuette of Jerusalem, in the same state of near-nudity, sitting on the toilet growling into his cell phone and arguing with his editor Mitchell Royce, who is visible on his small laptop computer on the base. The fourth is a wristwatch with the three-eyed Transient smiley as the watch's face; and the fifth is a replica of Spider's trademark glasses.
- Yayanos, Meredith (December 18, 2000). "Transmetropolitan's Warren Ellis". Publishers Weekly. Reed Elsevier. Archived from the original on December 7, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
- "COMICS: Mot Just For Speciality Stores Anymore". Publishers Weekly. October 16, 2000. Archived from the original on December 7, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
Sometimes the cart is pulling the horse--DC/Vertigo's Transmetropolitan, a dark science-fiction satire about a gonzo journalist in a sprawling future city, is the textbook example of a well-regarded comic for older readers that pulled itself up from poor sales with the help of some heavily promoted collections.
- Cascio, Jamais (May 22, 2004). "The Transmetropolitan Collection". Worldchanging. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
- De Blieck Jr., Augie (May 18, 2001). "Transmetropolitan: Filth of the City". Comic Book Resources.
- Bukatman, Scott (2003). Matters of Gravity. Durham: Duke University Press. p. 209. ISBN 978-0-8223-3119-3.
- "ABSOLUTE TRANSMETROPOLITAN VOL. 1". Retrieved 2016-07-18.
- "ABSOLUTE TRANSMETROPOLITAN VOL. 2". Retrieved 2016-07-18.
- Goodsmith, Edward (2008-01-29). "Warren Ellis on 'Transmetropolitan'". Comics2Film. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
- "Transmetropolitan Update". The Z Review. The Z Review. 2003. Archived from the original on 2008-07-19. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
- Warren Ellis on Twitter, June 12, 2010.
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