digital
illustration (c) José Villarrubia 2000 digital
illustration (c) José Villarrubia 2000
Comic Industry Journalism
Up to the Minute Commentary and Discourse
Feature Articles, Previews and Interviews
Refined Comics Criticism
Original Online Comics
In-Depth Creator Profiles
Staff Info, Legal Information & More
Past Glories

Art by Chip Zdarsky. Copyright 2002.

PopImage is part of the PopCultureShock network.


Transmetropolitan: The New Scum
Open up and say "Ahhhh...."

Writer: Warren Ellis
Penciller: Darick Robertson
Inker: Rodney Ramos
Colourist: Nathan Eyring
Letterer: Clem Robins
144 Page Trade Paperback
Published by DC/Vertigo 2000
US $12.95 - ISBN: 1563896273

Reviewed by A.B. Schwartz

Ahhhhh…

The Spider.

Spider Jerusalem is a tattoo-wearing, bowel-disruptor-wielding journalist. Which, of course, is the best kind. Spider has returned to the City after several years, to fulfill an obligation to the "whoremonger', cause some trouble, and tell the Truth.

The New Scum does not represent my personal favorite Transmet. stories, but it does represent my favorite Spider Jerusalem stories.

Fresh off the death of a supporting character at the end of the Year Two storyline, Spider attempts to deal with the loss of said character, the impending election, his continuing popularity in the City, and his own place in the grand scheme of things.

TNS starts off on a high note, as Spider travels the City, and the people revel in the fact that his is "one of them", the new scum. Underneath his happiness, however, is confusion and sadness. The loss of Ms. Severn seems to have pulled the rug out underneath Spider's feet, and along the way, Spider starts to make some mistakes.

One of the reasons these represent my favorite Spider stories is because of the mixture of high and low points that Jerusalem is at throughout the book. While the interview with the President goes well, the interview with his opponent, The Smiler, does not. In an attempt to "get back" at the Smiler for Vita's death, he lets out some information that he probably shouldn't have. He also is not able to publish the interview, like he did the President's.

Smiler: 1
Jerusalem: 0

Throughout TNS, there are full page spreads of members of the "new scum"(the everyday regular citizens) going about their daily lives. This serves several purposes: It gives the reader an idea of the culture of Transmet, and it allows Ellis to explore the lives of the citizens that Spider has chosen to represent.

This book also some of the few genuinely altruistic Spider stories from the series. From helping a little girl find her mother, to buying a camera and checking in on a former column subject, TNS cover the ""high points" of Spider's life and personality quite well.

As for the low point…

It goes without saying that the ending of the six part story (One of the Winter's Edge stories is also included after the "main story") sets the tone for what looks like the rest of the series. A party, a revelation, and lots of explosions are the highlights of the last chapter of TNS.

Not to mention the results of the election; As the results pour in, Spider realizes that his relationship with the new scum needs to change. He put his faith in them, but they didn't return the favor. All along, he gave them the truth, but when the time to reciprocate arrived, the new scum failed.

Transmetropolitan is one of the smartest and well-written books available today. Warren's socio-political commentary, compiled with his innovative ideas, shine in The New Scum. I could waste serious space boasting of Robertson and Ramos' artwork, but the fact is that my words aren't good enough. This series is something you just have to read.

TNS is one of the finer volumes from Transmetropolitan; From his highest to his lowest, Spider is almost always at his best. And that is indeed worth reading.

Highly Recommended


A.B. Schwartz has recently become a Staff Writer at PopImage. This is one of his first contributions.


PopImage Forum - Discuss this message at the PopImage forum.