illustration (c) Josť Villarrubia 2000 digital
illustration (c) Josť Villarrubia 2000
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Art by Chip Zdarsky. Copyright 2002.

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Spider turns his attention to the last great spectator sport...politics

Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Darick Robertson and Rodney Ramos
Colorist: Nathan Eyring
Letterer: Clem Robins
Trade paperback
Published by DC Vertigo 1999

Reviewed by Rick Beckley

They're not kidding either. Spider Jerusalem isn't the only bastard in this book. In fact, You'd have a hard time finding a character who isn't a bastard.

YEAR OF THE BASTARD concerns itself with an upcoming American Presidential election. And given that everything in TRANSMETROPOLITAN takes place in the City, everything political is also happening in the City.

"Outlaw journalist" Spider Jerusalem, having spent years in isolation after becoming a victim of his own success, has been back in the City for one year. During that year he's avoided direct political commentary like the plague. But now slowly, and extremely reluctantly, he's drawn back into it.
"This is only the second time I've actually cared about any of the characters in TRANSMETROPOLITAN"

The City in TRANSMETROPOLITAN is both a fetishist's and conservative's dream. Everything is available, in every combination. Many of the stories in TRANSMETROPOLITAN show the seamy, rabid or just plain disgusting side of the City, but if you take them as a whole the people who live there have it pretty good. Technology is everywhere, offering incredible opportunities to those who can afford it, and even making the lives of those who can't better. All of society's problems exist, but they seem to be on a smaller scale -- and thus in sharper contrast.

As the selection process in the Presidential election begins to heat up, Spider finds himself drawn to Vita Severn, campaign director for Senator Gary Callahan. Callahan is candidate of the Opposition party, who is nicknamed "The Smiler" for obvious reasons. The Party in Government, meanwhile, is headed by the Beast, whom we encountered earlier in the series.

Amazingly, this is only the second time I've ever actually cared about any of the characters in TRANSMETROPOLITAN (the first was the poor lady who was thawed out to face the future). Usually, Ellis sets up obvious candidates for sympathy who are little more than plot devices, but this time it actually worked for me. Much as I dislike the character of Spider, I was somewhat touched by the interaction between him and Vita. And "that bit" with poor Yelena is hilarious, but how is the poor girl ever going to live it down?

YEAR OF THE BASTARD twists and turns to its conclusion, the inevitable nomination of the Smiler, with Ellis's usual skill. Ideas must crackle in his brain like Pop Rocks. And Darick Robertson's artwork is amazing in this book; I can hardly believe this is the same guy I hated doing the JLE and loved doing New Warriors.

Recommended (with reservations: definitely not for children, and maybe even some adults without supervision)


Rick Beckley is an alumnus of PopImage.
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