BACK ON THE STREET
From something old comes something new
Artists: Darick Robertson, Keith Aiken, Jerome K. Moore, Ray Kryssing,
Colorist: Nathan Eyring
Letterer: Clem Robins
Published by DC Comics/Vertigo, 1997
by Paul Hanna
the new century comes, in theory, a new movement in art and literature.
The postmodern movement brought everything in the past under scrutiny.
What was discovered, among other things, is that depravity is everythere.
No one can escape it. Postmodernism shocked us, twisted our perception
of life by exposing its horrible flaws, and ultimately desensitized
us to itself. Sex? So what. Corruption? Oh, not again. Death? Happens
all the time. These became such a common occurrence in literary
culture that they were almost an aside to the events within a given
contemporary story. These ideas are details now -- even worse, theyíre
icons. And now that almost everything on this planet ceases to amaze
in such a gut-wrenching way, what is left? Apathy, unfortunately.
there is also the Truth. The truth that exists amidst the decadence
has unfortunately fallen to the wayside as well.
Ellis and Darick Robertsonís TRANSMETROPOLITAN: BACK ON THE STREET
is the first step towards something big. The next Big Thing. The
storyís beginning sees Spider Jerusalem, outlaw journalist, forced
away from his home atop a mountain and down into the City, a morally
degenerate yet physically thriving metropolis. An obligation to
fulfill the remainder of a book contract compels Spider to re-embrace
his job as a journalist. So, Spider becomes an observer, trying
to understand the madness within the City.
story revolves around the Transients, an artificially created minority.
The Transients have physically altered their physical appearance
for no apparent reason. Their seedy leader, Fred Christ, maintains
that they are discriminated against racially as a result. Of course,
what ultimately ensues gives the reader that impression, but Spider
observes that there is more to the story than whatís there. Itís
about reading between the lines -- or the panels. And Spider is
the voice that speaks between the panels. Spider reads for us, in
essence, because thatís what he does.
assaults the reader visually, challenging the peripheral vision."
Spider disentangle the apathy that seems to be the City? Maybe.
But if so, then what? Thatís the ultimate question, and 'Back On
the Street' certainly poses it, leaving the rest of the series to
give an answer.
Robertson brings the City a vibrant periphery; his illustrations
indicate a keen and almost obsessed eye for detail. The Monkey Burger
joints, the crazed media advertisements, the downright peculiar
City-dwellers -- TRANSMETROPOLITAN assaults the reader visually,
challenging the peripheral vision, drawing the eye this way and
that across each panel. It is truly unlike the bulk of American
comics, which often neglect backgorunds in an attempt to accentuate
character action. But in TRANSMET, the City is a character
all unto itself, and its presence can be seen on each page.
the beginning of something new. TRANSMETROPOLITAN aims for
the Truth, perhaps the only thing left to move us.
Paul Hanna is Reviews Editor of PopImage.
Discuss this article at the PopImage