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Cyberpunk Review » Transmetropolitan (10 Volumes)
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Comments

April 17, 2006

SFAM said:

Yes, I know, the header is fucked for this entry. This is the first time I’ve done a book review. I’ll have to go and update the book review type tomorrow.

Glam Creature said:

You say one of the best graphic novels cyberpunk has to offer. But the scans show very average drawings, sometimes even pretty poor, if compairing too suh artists as Enki Bilal and Moebius.

gwyddon said:

And also I don’t see much of the cyberpunk feeling.. just gritty urbanity with a few science fiction elements. Sure, it may be good but you don’t say anything about how much it uses the cyberpunk ideas and methods. This would be a good review for a generic site, but as this is a site about cyberpunk, talking a little more about the cyberpunk elements would be desirable.

curt said:

I’ve only read the first TPB, SFAM, but I have to say I was pretty underwhelmed. Specifically, I was disappointed in the City. This quote from this review prompted me to go out and buy it:

The City is bigger and noiser than anything you’ve ever seen, but Darick Robertson’s stunningly detailed panels in the first issue recreate the awe you felt when you saw that opening aerial shot of LA in Blade Runner.

That wasn’t my experience at all. I’d have to agree with gwyddon’s reaction above. This shot of real-life Hong Kong looks a zillion times more cyberpunkish to me than anything I saw in Transmetropolitan.

Still, I’m very glad to see you moving into comics, graphic novels, and manga in your reviews. Looking forward to seeing which of them you’ll cover next!

SFAM said:

Hi Gwyddon, in all honesty, I’m not sure how much more cyberpunk Transmetropolitan could get. We have a society absolutely destroyed by run-away technology, corrupt power ruining the masses, body modifications of all varieties, including having your consciousness turned into an AI system, and an anti-hero who does everything possible to expose the hypocracy. The punked underground of society is always at the forefront.

Truly, whether you hate the visuals or not, it’s really not in doubt as to whether this cyberpunk. I think I state this pretty clearly in the first two paragraphs. I also go into this in depth in the page scans on page two.

SFAM said:

Hi Curt, at the risk of asking you to spend more money, the first TPB is actually pretty short, and only sets up the context. The second one is actually one of my favorites. The story is just awesome, and this issue really gets in to a lot of the deviants within the City. That said, Transmetropolitan is really not supposed to be in ANY way glitzy like that image you link to - in fact it’s the exact opposite. Imagine taking that image and then going down to the seediest area in the (futuristic) city - this is where Transmetropolitan resides.

BTW, just in case people might be missing it - I do have a second page of images. Also, if the complaints are with the scans themselves, my apologies. Part of what you may be seeing is the quality of the images I’ve put up - I had to reduce the JPGs to 25% quality to get them down to halway-reasonable filesize (about 140K each).

SFAM said:

Glam Creature Said: “You say one of the best graphic novels cyberpunk has to offer. But the scans show very average drawings, sometimes even pretty poor, if compairing too suh artists as Enki Bilal and Moebius.”

Hi Glam, I’ll be getting to those too. I would certainly agree that Bilal’s images especially look more polished, and I definitely like both stories at lot. But in terms of story, Transmetropolitan is far better, far more intricate and well thought out than either of those two. If you’ve looked at both pages of the review and hate the artwork, then there’s really not much I can say about it, other than it works in context of the story.

Incidentally, I chose the images for the first page of the review (this page) far more based on the text than the images themselves. If you read them, they really do give a sense of what Spider is about. The second page probably has more visually grabbing images, although there I also chose a good number of them to help expose the story.

DannyV_El_Acme said:

Aaah, Transmetropolitan. What a great book, I loved every issue of it. Warren Ellis is just a gifted storyteller, and Darrick Robertson is the absolute dirtiest artist ever. His art is just downright FILTHY, no wonder he got picked up by Marvel to draw The Punisher and Wolverine.

And Curt, you REALLY need to read the rest of the series. The concepts of technology gone SERIOUSLY out of control and corruption in our leaders just gets really crazy later in the series. And Spider Jerusalem is just about the most charming asshole ever written. The series is just full of laughs and cringe-inducing moments. I recommend it to anybody, cyberpunk fan or no.

Glam Creature said:

Sfam said: “But in terms of story, Transmetropolitan is far better, far more intricate and well thought out than either of those two.”

Maybe. But in animation and comics, style of drawing and level of art is much more important for me than the narrative.

Glam Creature said:

What I wanted to say, once I saw work of Bilali or Moebius, I’ll always remember them as great and talented artists, and those drawings of “Transmetropolitan” I’ll be forgotten next day. If I want a great story, I’ll pick up the book.

SFAM said:

Again Glam, I can’t really say anything to your objections of the artwork except to say that it fits the narrative like a glove. Honestly, Robertson’s style is PERFECT for the narrative. I also happen to love the artwork here - its creativity is constantly top notch. Robertson doesn’t settle for a single view as many do - instead, each story gives you completely new looks - sometimes its to the point that you have to check the front to make sure the artist hasn’t changed. I’m sorry you’ll be missing out on this.

curt said:

Robertson doesn’t settle for a single view as many do - instead, each story gives you completely new looks - sometimes its to the point that you have to check the front to make sure the artist hasn’t changed.

I think David Mack does a great job with changing looks and styles in Kabuki: Circle of Blood. Hmmm . . . would you consider that cyberpunk? I would! And I love it. It’s blown me away every time I’ve read/reread it.

SFAM said:

Hi Curt, I haven’t read Kabuki - I’ll give it a go though. I’m still compiling my cyberpunk graphic novel/manga list. I’m afraid I’m far more behind on these than I am my movies :(

April 18, 2006

Neuromancer said:

Haven’t read a comic since school but it sure is great to see you are still expanding on the site!

gwyddon said:

Ah, didn’t notice the second page. Some of the pictures there do look more cyberpunky, yes. So maybe it’s just unfortunate choices of pictures in addition to not discussing much of the cyberpunk elements(avoiding spoilers, I guess?) that causes the reaction in some of us that it doesn’t look like cyberpunk.

SFAM said:

Hi Gwyddon, my apologies if the review sucks - it is my first graphic novel review. I did certainly mention the cyberpunk aspects in the first two paragraphs. Also, as I mention, the selection of the images was more due to the text in them. The hope was that you’d read them and get a sense of what the story is like.

curt said:

The review doesn’t suck, SFAM. Please don’t get discouraged from keeping on into graphic novel territory!

DannyV_El_Acme said:

Fun fact: Before being a Vertigo title, Transmetropolitan was actually part of a new mature sci-fi line of DC Comics called Helix, but the people at DC Comics felt that they could just absorb the Helix titles into Vertigo, since Vertigo was a much more recognizable(not to mention critically acclaimed) brand. Turns out all the Helix titles fizzled, only Transmetropolitan survived, and thrived for 10 volumes, becoming one of the more memorable titles on the line and opening the door for more sci-fi/cyberpunk titles in the line, like Y: The Last Man and Tank Girl.

But that’s not the fun fact: the fun fact is that before being called Helix, the line had another name, but it was changed at the last moment at the request of Warner Bros., DC Comics’ parent company, because it conflicted with the name of a project they were going to release. The name of the project? Here’s a hint: it ends with -ix as well and is a 10 star movie in this site :p

gwyddon said:

no no, the review doesn’t suck. I said earlier that it is a good general review - what I’m trying to say is that I’d like you to go deeper in detail about the cyberpunk aspects since this is a site about cyberpunk and thus can comment better on such details than the general film/comic review sites. It’s true that you do mention some cyberpunk-related things in the Setting section, but for some unknown-to-me reason I’m still feeling that Transmetropolitian seems more like a urban dystopia with a few scifi elements..
Compare with one of your film reviews(take for example Blade Runner, Tetsuo, Ghost in the Shell) and you’ll notice that you go in more detail about the cyberpunk elements of the films, that’s what I was/am looking for.
I’m not belittling your efforts at all - I know just how hard it is to review something and wouldn’t even dare try reviewing a 10-volume comic..

April 19, 2006

SFAM said:

Hi Gyyddon, I see what you mean. I’ll try to go through this and add some cyberpunk linkages. Perhaps I took some of these for granted. The biggie that Transmetropolitan does is exposing fascades of those in power through various technologically wierd means (soaking himself in nanotech source gas, which allows digital feeds to pick up the conversation, for instance). But in terms of a visual depiction of a gritty, underground cyberpunked future, I really can’t come up with another graphic novel that does it even close to as well.

Truly, maybe my review doesn’t capture this, but cyberpunk oozes out of every pore of this 10 volume series. I think one change I’ll do next time is not try to capture the essence of the dialogue style for the page scans, but just use them to focus on the visuals. I actually spent hours picking out page scans, but again, did them more for the dialoge (I LOVE the monstering concept, for instance :D )

April 24, 2006

Bergo said:

Hey SFAM,

Thanks for doing the review. I have purchased a copy of back on the street that will arrive “real soon now”. I had seen transmetropitan kicking around as cyberpunk, so now i’ll give it a go.

Did you have a list of Cyberpunk graphic novels? I noticed the book list kicking around on the forums (and elsewhere).

I definetely be interested in seeing more graphic novel and novel reviews !

SFAM said:

Hi Bergo, I’m still putting a list of graphic novels together. Probably we should make a thread about this in the meatspace, as I know I’ll be missing many titles.

March 27, 2007

85% Is Still Sheep! | Cyberpunk Review said (pingback):

[…] modified sheep liver for a song!” Truly, at first glance, this sounds like something out of Transmetropolitan. Apparently others have similar thoughts, given their […]

March 28, 2007

Caelum said:

wow I never saw that you reviewed Transmet!

awesome! thanks SFAM!

SFAM said:

Hi Caelum, I really gotta get to more graphic novels…there are TONS of great ones out there.

Nek said:

I am going to keep nagging you to write that list for me, if even a short one.
I’d be more than happy to buy and review a few titles, I’ve got a steady job now and I’m stinking rich :P

June 26, 2007

Anonymous said:

Did you READ it?

June 27, 2007

SFAM said:

Anonymous, perhaps you could clarify your comment somewhat. Are you asking did I, the reviewer read it? If so, why do you ask (noticed how details might help here)? Or are you asking someone else? For the record, I read and/or watch everything I review - usually multiple times.

August 15, 2007

Priscilla Picasso said:

WTF!!!! Hey ppl! I need a new bf any1 interested? Im sexy im cute im popular to boot im bitchin great hair the boys all want to stare im wanted im hot im evrithing ur not im pretty im cool and i dominate the skool who am i just guess?? im priscilla yeah yeah priscilla

September 21, 2007

  Max HeadRoom by Frikis.net said (pingback):

[…] ms famoso Edison Carter, un periodista de investigacin al ms puro estilo Spider Jerusalem de Transmetropolitan, encargado de sacar la basura y los abusos a las pantallas de su cadena, pero el pobre Edison tiene […]

October 29, 2007

  Transmetropolitan by Frikis.net said (pingback):

[…] crtica y valoracin cyberpunkreview […]

August 9, 2009

Kiski said:

This makes me incredibly unhappy.

Isn’t only appreciating the artwork in a graphic novel equivalent to a little kid looking at the pictures in a novel? A good graphic novel has to be a balance of quality artwork and good story, or you’re just doing the same thing fad gamers do, which is an ADD reaction of ‘Oooh, shiny’ that will leave you out of the appreciation of all the less pretty but phenomenal works of the past. SFAM is correct when talking about the art of Transmet; it’s incredibly detailed when it comes to landscapes or open shots, and very richly coloured, which really does work for the vibrancy of the story.

SFAM, great review. I felt you did a fine job characterizing the novels.

September 6, 2009

bolt151 said:

you should review more of warren ellises work especially the brilliant doktor sleepless

December 27, 2009

glycerine said:

SFAM, In the review you mentioned wishing that Spider was a real person. Oddly enough, he was based off of a real person: Hunter S. Thompson. If you’ve seen the movie “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” the link between Spider Jerusalem and Hunter S Thompson is easy to imagine. They even have a similar appearance!

Hunter S Thompson explored concepts of the news that no one else wanted to see, and wrote about them in a way that showed them as people needed to see them: gritty, dirty, grotesque, and REAL. His style of journalism, Gonzo Journalism, involved writing in first person narrative, a subjective review of events witnessed first-hand. Thompson’s struggle to meet deadlines also helped evolve this style of writing, wherein the writing itself lacks polish and is often submitted raw.

Spider’s dialogue throughout the series, as well as how he looks and how the story of Transmetropolitan itself moves along reflect not only who Hunter S Thompson was, but political and general issues of humanity in the time the comics were written, and constitute a warning for the future.

As to the degree of “cyberpunk” the series contains, I can’t think of any possible way that Warren Ellis could have made a more cyberpunk story. All the elements are there, they just appear in a less polished and more gritty scene than many are used to. The art in the series is perfect, when considering the context, and only adds to the cyberpunk themes shown in the story (control of the masses through media, drugs, cyberized/atomized humans.) The series also explores the concept of human, where it poses the question, “when does being human end?” when the population is modifying them selves, transplanting their thoughts into other bodies or forms, and replacing large quantities of themselves.

Great review, and thanks for putting it up!

[…] or writing some of the most acclaimed comics of the past two decades (Astonishing X-Men, Planetary, Transmetropolitan, The Authority, Stormwatch, etc.), he’s critiquing relatively unknown music for the benefit […]

March 1, 2010

Raoul Duke said:

you said at the end you wish spider was real? He kinda was… I’ve never read the series, but became interested in it because of Spider being loosely based on Hunter S. Thompson. If you pay attention to Hunter’s character in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Spider very closely resembles Raoul Duke.

April 3, 2010

[NRO] said:

Yea, Spider is based on HST. Great comic.
This is…excellent. Could not get more cyberpunk.

July 13, 2010

Sniper said:

Recently I got myself a new computer good enough to play Dragon Age. In the beginning of the game the player gets a chance of getting a combat dog into the party, just like good old Neverwinter Nights. Naturally a player can choose the dog`s name, so I thought of no-one better than… STOMPONATO!!! BTW, the dog looks quite like him :)

March 7, 2011

Cassandra said:

Whoa! Your review is great. I started reading it a couple of weeks ago when my girlfriend gave me her collection. I am devouring it, it is excellent cyberpunk and you said it all in your overview. I just love it because being made ten years ago is a very contemporary work of art.

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