Propaganda on Warren Ellis’ magnum opus: Transmetropolitan

Published On August 8, 2008 | By Richard Bruton | Reviews


by Warren Ellis & Darick Robertson


Transmetropolitan was fiction with bile, black humour and an inbuilt nasty taste in the mouth. When I slagged off Doktor Sleepless a little while back this was the reason why. I know Doktor Sleepless isn’t brilliant, because this came first, it’s so much better and is still perhaps the most perfect distillate of Ellis’ writing style. Across eleven volumes Ellis said everything he needed to say on so many things. He looked at the nature of truth, humanity, the media, politics, dissected science fiction clichés and played with bowel disrupters a little too often.


(Spider Jerusalem. He’s got your mission statement right there.)

Welcome to the city, welcome to the future. Everything is different, technology enables you to do everything and anything you want or can dream of. The possibilities are endless, breathtaking and yours for the taking. Unfortunately, you (and all humanity) just want to drink, get laid and generally be as vile and nasty as always, only now you all have bigger and better toys to play with.

This is the premise of Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson; people are vile, evil and small. Of course this isn’t the thing that makes it such a great read; hell, everybody with eyes and half a functioning brain can work out that people are horrible, nasty little things (a cynic might say the ‘half a brain’ criteria rules out an awful lot of people though – Joe). What makes it great is the passion and intensity Ellis puts into the embodiment of his hatred; Spider Jerusalem, outlaw journalist whose only major flaw is his desperate search for the truth. Killer stories and Robertson’s artwork make TMP a real treat. Just take a look at the very first page below, isn’t it just making you want to read on?


(Transmetropolitan issue 1, page 1. The start of something very special)

The scary thing, looking back on Transmetropolitan just a few years after it’s finished, is how relevant so much of the media and cultural references were and how many of the insane ideas Warren came up with are either here or are going to be with us soon.

We’re living in the future right now.


(A more recognisable Spider by the end of issue 1. Back in the city. Back seeking the truth.)

I was going to write more but really, what more do you need? It’s great. It’s Warren Ellis writing at the top of his game. It’s one of those books where, if you’ve already read it, you probably love it anyway and if you’re just starting on the first volume then I’m genuinely jealous of the joy you have to come. Go and buy it now. Of course, maybe one day DC will wake up enough to realise this deserves that old Absolute Edition treatment and will finally do it justice.

Obviously, you are already out the door scurrying to buy the book. But if further incentive is needed Vertigo have put a download of the complete first issue here.

Warren has a website that regularly breaks the Internet. Darick’s website is here.

Richard Bruton

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About The Author

Richard Bruton

– Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he’s written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard’s day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children’s graphic novel library in the country.

2 Responses to Propaganda on Warren Ellis’ magnum opus: Transmetropolitan

  1. Vana C says:

    i finished Transmet a few days back and promptly blog about it because i loved it so much. what i didn’t realize before i was reading this is Robertson’s art… how detailed it really is and how perfectly it complimented Ellis’ words.

  2. Joe says:

    Vana, you’re not wrong, I always had to go back over each volume of Transmet to spot all the little background pieces Darick put in, from Ebola Cola to having Tubbs and Edward from the League of Gentlemen in a few frames visiting the city (then being shot by a sniper!).