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Transmetropolitan

Transmetropolitan

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Transmetropolitan is a cyberpunk
Cyberpunk
Cyberpunk is a postmodern and science fiction genre noted for its focus on "high tech and low life." The name is a portmanteau of cybernetics and punk, and was originally coined by Bruce Bethke as the title of his short story "Cyberpunk," published in 1983...

 comic book
Comic book
A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

 series written by Warren Ellis
Warren Ellis
Warren Girard Ellis is an English author of comics, novels, and television, who is well-known for sociocultural commentary, both through his online presence and through his writing, which covers transhumanist themes...

 with art by Darick Robertson
Darick Robertson
Darick W. Robertson is an American artist best known for his work as a comic book illustrator. Highly prolific, Robertson has illustrated hundreds of comics in his twenty plus years in the industry. His body of work ranges from science fiction characters of his own creation to headlining on...

 and published by DC Comics
DC Comics
DC Comics, Inc. is one of the largest and most successful companies operating in the market for American comic books and related media. It is the publishing unit of DC Entertainment a company of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which itself is owned by Time Warner...

. The series was originally part of the short-lived DC Comics imprint
Imprint
In the publishing industry, an imprint can mean several different things:* As a piece of bibliographic information about a book, it refers to the name and address of the book's publisher and its date of publication as given at the foot or on the verso of its title page.* It can mean a trade name...

 Helix
Helix (comics)
Helix was a short-lived, science fiction and science fantasy imprint of DC Comics, launched in 1996 and discontinued in 1998. Helix was a short-lived, science fiction and science fantasy imprint of DC Comics, launched in 1996 and discontinued in 1998. Helix was a short-lived, science fiction and...

, but upon the end of the book's first year the series was moved to the Vertigo imprint as DC Comics cancelled the Helix imprint. It chronicles the battles of Spider Jerusalem
Spider Jerusalem
Spider Jerusalem is a fictional character and the protagonist of the comic book Transmetropolitan, created by writer Warren Ellis and artist Darick Robertson, introduced under the now-defunct Helix imprint of DC Comics before being moved to the Vertigo imprint.-Background:Spider is a renegade gonzo...

, infamous renegade gonzo journalist
Gonzo journalism
Gonzo journalism is a style of journalism that is written without claims of objectivity, often including the reporter as part of the story via a first-person narrative. The word "gonzo" is believed to be first used in 1970 to describe an article by Hunter S. Thompson, who later popularized the style...

 of the future, a homage to gonzo journalism founder Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter Stockton Thompson was an American journalist and author who wrote The Rum Diary , Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 .He is credited as the creator of Gonzo journalism, a style of reporting where reporters involve themselves in the action to...

.
Spider Jerusalem dedicates himself to fighting the corruption and abuse of power of two successive United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 presidents; he and his "filthy assistants" strive to keep their world from turning more dystopia
Dystopia
A dystopia is the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian, as characterized in books like Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four...

n 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 1997
1997 in comics
-January:*Avengers #3 - Marvel Comics*Captain America #3 - Marvel Comics*Fantastic Four #3 - Marvel Comics*Iron Man #3 - Marvel Comics-February:...

 and came to its conclusion in 2002
2002 in comics
-March:* Adventures of Superman #600: super-sized anniversary issue by Joe Casey, Mike Wieringo, and Jose Marzan, Jr. -April:* Batman #600: "Bruce Wayne: Fugitive," part one, 64-page giant, written by Ed Brubaker.-January:...

. The series was later reprinted in an array of ten trade paperback
Trade paperback (comics)
In comics, a trade paperback is a collection of stories originally published in comic books, reprinted in book format, usually capturing one story arc from a single title or a series of stories with a connected story arc or common theme from one or more titles...

 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.

Story synopsis



Some time in the future (how long precisely is never specified, but said to be in the 23rd century) Spider Jerusalem, retired writer and bearded hermit, lives an isolated existence in a fortified mountain hideaway, retired from City life for the last five years. Following a call from his irate publisher demanding the last two books per his publishing deal, Jerusalem packs his belongings and descends the mountains before traveling back into The City
The City (Transmetropolitan)
The City is a fictional megacity which forms the main setting for the Vertigo comic Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis. Located somewhere in the United States, the City is the largest metropolitan area in the futuristic world of the series , and the center of political and social culture. The City...

, a twisted amalgam of pervasive consumerism, sex, violence, and drugs. However, this futuristic culture is highly liberal, self-centered, and focused almost exclusively on present-day matters. "Revivals" from cryogenic stasis are largely ignored and left to fend for themselves on the streets. Cultural "Reservations" are established for the sole purpose of preserving past civilizations. Some people convert to "foglets," clouds of nanomachines that make anything from particles in the air and can spread thin enough to be invisible. No one even knows the current calendar year (this fact revealed by Spider in Issue #42), so everyone always refers to events in time relative to the present day.

Jerusalem returns to working for his old partner and editor Mitchell Royce, who now edits The Word, the City's largest newspaper. The first assignment he attaches himself to is an attempted separatist secession by followers of the Transient movement (a group of people who use genetic body modification based on alien DNA to become a completely different species, forced to live in the Angels 8 slum district) led by Fred Christ, a former rock group manager and impresario similar to Malcolm McLaren
Malcolm McLaren
Malcolm Robert Andrew McLaren was an English performer, impresario, self-publicist and manager of the Sex Pistols and the New York Dolls...

. Jerusalem manages to stop the (secretly staged) riots and police brutality
Police brutality
Police brutality is the intentional use of excessive force, usually physical, but potentially also in the form of verbal attacks and psychological intimidation, by a police officer....

 that follows, only to be beaten brutally by police on the way home for his troubles.

The first year of the series focuses upon a series of one-off stories exploring The City, Spider's background, and his often tense relationship with his assistants/sidekicks, Yelena Rossini and Channon Yarrow (known collectively as the 'filthy assistants'), who become his full-time partners in his journalistic battles as the series progresses.

With the second year of the series, the series shifts towards a lengthy storyline for the remainder of the book's run, involving the election and the corrupt presidency of Gary Callahan, nicknamed "The Smiler" by Spider. Though Spider initially considers Callahan to be the lesser evil when compared to "The Beast", his investigation into Callahan's past and his ties with a right-wing hate group (who provided him with a genetically cloned Vice President) ultimately leads to the murder of Vita Severn, the Smiler's politically naive campaign manager, to whom Spider had taken a rare liking. In a one-on-one meeting, Spider quickly realizes that Callahan is not merely corrupt but is a complete lunatic who wants to be President for no reason but to hurt people with his new power. To his horror, the people end up voting the Smiler into office by a wide margin.

Once elected, Callahan begins to use his presidential power to torment Spider. Spider escapes from a massacre conducted by the city's corrupt police against protesters during a scandal where several police officers watch as a young man is murdered by racists over his genetic background. Callahan spikes the story via "D-Notices", a form of government mandated censorship over any or all stories that could "embarrass" the country and the Callahan administration. After being informed of the "D-Notice", Spider leaks the story onto the internet via a news feedsite known as "The Hole" and follows it up with a story exposing Callahan's corrupt circle of advisers, one of whom was revealed to be a pedophile. When Royce runs the story, Callahan extorts the paper's board of directors into firing Spider, who by that point has already formed an alliance to have his future stories published by "The Hole". However, after Callahan arranges for the City to be left defenseless from a hurricane-like "ruinstorm" that ravages the city and kills thousands, Spider collapses and is quickly diagnosed with an incurable degenerative neurological illness with similar symptoms to Alzheimer's
Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's disease also known in medical literature as Alzheimer disease is the most common form of dementia. There is no cure for the disease, which worsens as it progresses, and eventually leads to death...

 and Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system...

 due to exposure to Information Pollen (which Spider had been exposed to multiple times earlier in the storyline—and which carries dangerous side effects). Diagnosed with about a year until dementia
Dementia
Dementia is a serious loss of cognitive ability in a previously unimpaired person, beyond what might be expected from normal aging...

 renders him dysfunctional and with only a 1% chance of escaping this fate, Spider increases his vendetta against Callahan, ultimately exposing his evil deeds and bringing the President down.

Spider returns to his mountain home in the final issue epilogue. Royce comes to visit. The assistants show him around the house while explaining that Spider's disease is progressing. He can barely do anything for himself. It is revealed Channon has a successful book deal, and Yelena is slowly becoming Spider's replacement. Out in the garden, Spider tells Royce further details. He cannot light his own cigarette and is forgetting one day out of seven. However, when Spider is left alone in his chair, he pulls out a package of cigarettes, along with what appears to be a handgun. He appears to be placing the barrel under his chin, until it's revealed in the next frame that it's actually a lighter. He lights the cigarette and then spins the lighter on his finger, revealing to the readers 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 ends on an overhead shot of Spider laughing boisterously.

Publishing


The series was originally published under DC Comics
DC Comics
DC Comics, Inc. is one of the largest and most successful companies operating in the market for American comic books and related media. It is the publishing unit of DC Entertainment a company of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which itself is owned by Time Warner...

's then-new science fiction Helix
Helix (comics)
Helix was a short-lived, science fiction and science fantasy imprint of DC Comics, launched in 1996 and discontinued in 1998. Helix was a short-lived, science fiction and science fantasy imprint of DC Comics, launched in 1996 and discontinued in 1998. Helix was a short-lived, science fiction and...

 imprint. When the Helix line was discontinued, Transmetropolitan was the only ongoing series of the line which had not been canceled. It switched to the Vertigo imprint, starting with issue #13. The entire set of trade paperbacks are now published under the Vertigo label.

Collected editions

Volume Old Printing ISBN New Printing ISBN
Vol. 1: Back on the Street #1–3 #1–6
Vol. 2: Lust for Life #4–12 #7–12
Vol. 3: Year of the Bastard #13–18 and story from Vertigo: Winter's Edge II #13–18
Vol. 4: The New Scum #19–24 and story from Vertigo: Winter's Edge III #19–24 and stories from Vertigo: Winter's Edge II and III
Vol. 5: Lonely City #25–30 #25–30
Vol. 6: Gouge Away #31–36 #31–36
Vol. 7: Spider's Thrash #37–42 #37–42
Vol. 8: Dirge #43–48 #43–48
Vol. 9: The Cure #49–54 #49–54
Vol. 10: One More Time #55–60 #55–60 and the specials Transmetropolitan: I Hate It Here and Transmetropolitan: Filth of the City
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 Not to be printed N/A

Film adaptation


Co-creators Ellis and Robertson were approached about making a Transmetropolitan film adaptation
Film adaptation
Film adaptation is the transfer of a written work to a feature film. It is a type of derivative work.A common form of film adaptation is the use of a novel as the basis of a feature film, but film adaptation includes the use of non-fiction , autobiography, comic book, scripture, plays, and even...

, with Patrick Stewart
Patrick Stewart
Sir Patrick Hewes Stewart, OBE is an English film, television and stage actor, who has had a distinguished career in theatre and television for around half a century...

's production company Flying Freehold Productions' offering to option the rights in February 2003. Later, the burgeoning Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

 boom led to an offer to create an online animated film series, with Stewart providing the voice of Spider Jerusalem
Spider Jerusalem
Spider Jerusalem is a fictional character and the protagonist of the comic book Transmetropolitan, created by writer Warren Ellis and artist Darick Robertson, introduced under the now-defunct Helix imprint of DC Comics before being moved to the Vertigo imprint.-Background:Spider is a renegade gonzo...

, but the project never fully developed. Ellis and Robertson have indicated that they would like to see Tim Roth
Tim Roth
Simon Timothy "Tim" Roth is an English film actor and director best known for his roles in the American films,Legend of 1900, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Four Rooms, Skellig, Planet of the Apes, The Incredible Hulk and Rob Roy, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for...

 play the character of Spider Jerusalem.

Transmetropolitan remains unfilmed. Ellis noted in his Twitter account that no production was underway.

Merchandise


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 with the text "I Hate It Here" in yellow on the back. DC Direct
DC Direct
DC Direct is the collectibles division of DC Comics, the Time Warner subsidiary that publishes comic books and licenses characters such as Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Batman, Batgirl and Hawkgirl. DC Direct produces statues, props, replicas and prints for the direct market, a...

 has produced five products: a black T-shirt with an image of Spider Jerusalem lifted from the comic's interiors with the text "Spider Jerusalem. Cheap. But not as cheap as your girlfriend". They produced an action figure in the early stages which featured Jerusalem wearing nothing but his trademark boxer shorts
Boxer shorts
Boxer shorts are a type of undergarment worn by men. The term has been used in English since 1944 for all-around-elastic shorts, so named after the shorts worn by boxers, for whom unhindered leg movement is very important.Reasons for a preference for boxers can be attributed to their variety of...

 so as to show off his tattoos, and a variant figure that is giving the finger and holding a bowel disruptor. The third is a statue
Statue
A statue is a sculpture in the round representing a person or persons, an animal, an idea or an event, normally full-length, as opposed to a bust, and at least close to life-size, or larger...

 of Jerusalem, in the same state of near-nudity, sitting on the toilet growling into his cell phone and arguing with his editor Mitchel 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.

External links