I finished these months ago, and am just getting around to the review now, lamely.
I read the first in this series two years ago after receiving it as a gift, and then picked up the next four from my lovely local library this spring. I enjoy the graphic novels, but am not sad that I do not own the series, as I don’t think I am eager read them again. They are clever and detailed, and the art is kind of amazing, but they are very dark and depressing at their heart.
Spider Jerusalem is the main character, and is a gonzo journalist in the vein of Hunter S. Thompson, but living in an dystopian future. He is enormously offensive and violent, a drug addict, and a relentless investigative journalist in a seriously strange world. He is a deeply unpleasant character, but as the series progresses it is easier to admire him and his work – not only does he try to defend the defenceless living in the city, but the sheer corruption of the world around him, particularly in politicians and the mind boggling number of religions, would probably be enough to drive anyone mad. Spider is helped by a few people, notably two young women he calls “the filthy assistants,” his editor Royce, and a few informants and collaborators.
Transmetropolitan presents a very rich world – the characters are interesting and imbued with personality, and the art is enormously detailed and colourful. The stories themselves are complex, dealing with complicated problems – the power of media, choosing between two terrible political candidates, how to deal with poverty, the manipulation of religious entities, etc. They are dense, and dark, and witty, characterized by a overwhelming sense of anger at the general complacency of society and how easily people are manipulated. I think the series is great, and look forward to finishing it, but it isn’t one that I would revisit immediately as I do with The Sandman series.