John Tallow is a New York City cop who accidentally finds an apartment full of guns. Not just a few shelves of them, but guns arrayed on the walls and floor like a shrine. Once they start getting analyzed it becomes clear that this isn’t just a gun nut’s shack; each weapon has been used in an unsolved NYC murder. Investigation ensues.
There’s a lot to love about this book. Tallow is a detective who is very believable in his “just going through the motions” before he starts working the case. Ellis writes likable foul-mouthed weirdos as Tallow’s sort-of assigned partners. The story (and the case) moves quickly, but it works. I bought that this didn’t need to be five seasons of a TV series (though The Wire made me right at home with the police politics on display in the story). There are a few coincidences at work that might make your eyebrow raise but Ellis is playing fair with you. It all works.
My least favourite part is the Native American history that gets bandied about, and that was mostly because I know Warren Ellis is an Englishman and this stuff is easy to get wrong. But anything here is way less problematic from my point of view than Johnny Depp as Tonto.
Though Pappa Warren writes great violence — “From his vantage, three steps back and to the right, Tallow could see Rosato’s eye a good five inches outside Rosato’s head and still attached to his eye socket by a mess of red worms.” — I think my favourite bit of pure wordsmithery was a cooking scene late in the book. There are all these details that work into Tallow’s mental state and the realization he has works so well with them, I wanted to applaud.
It’s a pretty quick read so if you’re not a huge Warren Ellis fan, you might want to go for an ebook edition, but the jacket design is great. There’s also a website with some interesting supplemental materials.
I love Ben Templesmith’s work with Warren Ellis on Fell, and his art is really cool in 30 Days of Night (even if I wasn’t a huge fan of the story). Wormwood, Gentleman Corpse sells me on Templesmith as a writer (well, this and his Twitter feed).
In Birds, Bees Blood and Beer we meet Wormwood and his clockwork genital-less companion. An ex-girlfriend of Worm’s is supposed to be guarding a portal between realms and stuff keeps on sneaking its tentacly way through and erupting out of people’s bodies. Wormwood has to get things sorted out to keep his beer supply and the rest of reality intact the way he prefers it.
I love Templesmith’s art. It’s got this rough, yet digital nature to it that a lot of people try to imitate, but man, he’s just good. And then i loved the characters. Because Wormwood is possessing a corpse, terrible things can happen to the body with little serious trauma to the character (he gets his head blown off and his body ripped in half in this volume). I love that kind of posthuman type stuff, even when it’s dressed up in magickal garb instead of nerd-rapture accoutrements.
Lots of blood and cussing and strippers so probably not a book destined for the shelves of younger readers, but it works really well for tough-talking neo-noir magicky stuff (for my money this is similar to and better than Sandman Slim)
Supergod is the story a British scientist tells of how the world was destroyed by nations putting their trust in hugely powerful beings who can fly. It’s an interesting read for the ideas and the pictures of superbeings reshaping the world.
There aren’t really any characters to get attached to apart from the narrator, who basically takes the place of Uncle Warren telling creepy tales of mushroom sex and soviet robots. Also, because it’s a Warren Ellis comic, of course the British space program plays into the story.
It’s a different take on superhumans than something like Black Summer; a much bigger picture story, and one that highlights how badly people would really deal with that kind of thing.
Setting Sun collects the end of Warren Ellis’ run on Hellblazer. It’s an assortment of short horror stories, all of which I liked. John Constantine is such an arrogant bastard he seems made for Warren Ellis to be giving him words. One of the stories in the book was about a guy who thinks he’s stumbled onto the great conspiracy, and Constantine just feeds him more and more and then disappears, all for the sake of a laugh. The idea that magic is real combines really well with the idea that believing in any old thing because it says it’s magic is completely stupid.
One of my favourite things about reading Hellblazer is that I’ve never felt the need to start at the beginning. Storylines just kind of float around and work. That makes this just as good a starter volume as any.
Two-Step is a light little story about a Zen gangster and a woman who gets paid to walk around London and look at interesting things (with all her cameras she wears). It’s a really colourful book, collecting a three issue miniseries (and the script to the first issue, which is an interesting document in how little there is to it, making comics-writing look super easy).
It’s a science-fiction kind of story, with a bunch of banter and a stolen giant penis and an enforcer who fucks cars because they’re so sexy. It feels closest to NEXTWAVE as far as Ellis’ other work. Fun. Fluffy. I liked reading it but am glad I didn’t buy it.
Captain Swing and the Electrical Pirates of Cinderry Island is the story of a London constable in 1830 who tries to solve the murder of a fellow Peeler (or Bobby as the police are sometimes known) and gets mixed up with pirates in a flying electrical ship.
Written by Warren Ellis, it’s filled with cursing and scientific emancipatory exultation. Raulo Caceres’ art is dark and bloody. I liked it a lot. One of the cool things they do is have pages with the pirate captain discoursing in prose (over schematic engravings) explaining all sorts of history and background. It’s more effective than putting it in as expository dialogue, and enhances the notion of this being a document of secret history.
I haven’t read enough of Doktor Sleepless, but the two books feel connected. I’m unsure how deep that connection is.
Ocean is a great little scifi story about a UN weapons inspector who heads out to Jupiter’s moon Europa because a scientific team there found a shitload of billion-year-old alien coffins. There’s another corporation out in orbit of Europa too and they’re interested in the weapon potential of these alien devices.
The book is full of good Warren Ellis dialogue between bitter cranky people trying to save the world. The evil corporation guys have all had personality replacements for the length of their contracts so they’re full on corporate drones, while the heroic real people make terrible food and talk about sex a lot. There are some cool ideas about weapons in space, a great fight sequence using manipulation of the space station’s gravity, and Ellis’ old-school rocket fixation (transferred to the main character) helps to save the day.
I really enjoyed the book and it’d make a great movie.
Astronauts in Trouble: Live From the Moon could have been exactly the kind of thing I’d love. It’s a comic about journalism and space colonization (and had an introduction by Warren Ellis). But something about it never really clicked for me.
I had issues with telling the similar looking characters apart. The plot itself had some gaps that left me confused. The journalists fending off nukes with a jury-rigged camera wasn’t quite as wacky as it sounds so it was just kind of odd. The trusted onscreen personality talks about himself as growing up in the shadow of Generation X, though he was born in 1977, which seems all sorts of weird to me (though it was written in 1999, which might explain that a bit).
I did like how orbital dynamics were addressed when they launched prematurely though. I just think the book needed to open up the throttle a bit more and decide if it was being more of an adventure or a serious speculation. It kind of waffled around without melding the two.
I’ve only read Warren Ellis’ run on The Authority before reading Ed Brubaker’s Revolution (Book 1). The Authority is the Wildstorm universe’s Justice League analogue, except rather than just maintaining the status quo they take an active role in getting governments to behave better.
In this book, Jack Hawksmoor God of Cities, has taken over the presidency of the United States and is on his way to making the world a better place whether people like it or not. Renewable energy for everything, healthcare and all the good stuff. But not everyone is happy about it. The Authority has to deal with a rebellion by a bunch of “patriotic” superheroes who are much more powered than they used to be. And Midnighter (the Authority’s Batman analogue) has been brought into the future by Apollo (the Authority’s Superman analogue) to see what a terrible fascist dystopia the Authority hath wrought with the best of intentions. Midnighter is sent back to try and make sure that future doesn’t come to pass.
It’s a good story about politics and superpowers that deals with things differently than the mainstream DC or Marvel continuity really would.
My big problem with this book is that the VPL doesn’t have book two, so I haven’t been able to learn how it ends yet.
I picked up Newuniversal: Everything Went White because it’s written by Warren Ellis. It’s a different 2006 and a celestial event happens on Earth and at least a couple of superhumans are discovered. Government plans to neutralize these creatures are started up before they can find each other, because if superhumans meet then they will out compete humanity. They’re seen as an evolutionary threat. It’s the kind of issues that the X-Men as mutants sort of embody in a much gentler form.
What I wasn’t too big a fan of was the mythology behind these superheroic roles these characters have. They don’t quite understand them and because this is just the first volume it doesn’t need to be explained. I think I prefer these kinds of stories about new superheroes in a more self-contained format, like that DV8 book I recently read, or Warren Ellis’ Black Summer.