Hello everyone,

Please check out my latest piece for comicommand. I’ll have an original piece up tomorrow.

Here is the link to the piece on comicommand, or feel free to read it below.

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Written By Cadeem Lalor

The Commander recently suggested that I check out Vertigo’s Transmetropolitan. I’ve heard of the series before on numerous “best of” lists and figured it was time to start reading it. I ordered volume one last week, read through it yesterday and then ordered the next two volumes. I would have ordered the remaining nine if my budget allowed it.

Transmetropolitan (1997-2002) spans sixty issues, following journalist Spider Jerusalem as he battles corruption in “The City”. An exact year isn’t revealed so far, and from what I have read online, the series never gives an exact date. However, the technology and references to events like rebellions on Mars, makes it clear that the setting is a futuristic one.

Many outlets describe Transmetropolitan as cyber-punk, a subgenre of science fiction that focuses on futuristic earth settings where life is drastically impacted by A.I or other technological advancement. Like other sci-fi genres, the fictional world created by cyber-punk is often meant to mirror our own or to explore questions that are relevant to our own world.

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Spider is revered and reviled for his desire to fight corruption, which obviously brings up a universal issue that audiences can relate to. Of all the vices presented in the first volume (issues 1-6), the most striking ones are police brutality and consumerism.

At the beginning of the story, Spider is hiding out in a secluded mountain home armed with security that detracts any potential visitors. After years of solitude, book contracts force Spider out of hiding and back to the city to continue his work. In order to secure income while he writes his books, Spider goes back to journalism. His first story involves the transients, humans who modified their DNA with alien DNA and exist as an amalgam of human and alien features. When civil disobedience turns into a riot, Spider quickly realizes some transients were paid off to start a fight and give the police reason to attack them. Panel after panel shows the police killing one unarmed civilian after another and enjoying themselves. After Spider exposes their behavior, they assault him on his way home.

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The issue that comes to the forefront even more in volume one is the issue of mindless consumption and the people who take advantage of it. Spider decides to spend a day watching television, hoping to immerse himself in the culture that he spent five years isolated from. Throughout the day we see him slouch further and further, burying himself in his couch as he watches “Anthrax Cat” and sees commercials for shows such as “JFK’s Magic Penis” and “Anything for Drugs”. Later in the day Spider experiences his first “buybomb”, ads that unreel in your dreams. The buybomb is a living manifestation of a subliminal message, but technology has now allowed it to advance and become an even more effective tool for advertising.

New religions also abound in the new world, with a new one emerging every hour according to one of the characters. These new religions range from ones supporting cannibalism to ones that proclaim “God Loves Guns”. Issue six ends with Spider ransacking one of their conventions, lamenting how the people who start these religions feed off people’s need to believe in a higher power. Like our society, technology now allows these groups to register themselves and attempt to recruit through public meetings and newer outlets such as television. The advertising itself isn’t that different from out society, but the level of depravity and manipulation is. The City is routinely described as a hotbed of vice and sin, where morals have decayed while technology progresses.

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Spider’s journalistic breakthroughs give him some level of fame and notoriety. It is implied that the fame, the exposure, is what drove Spider into exile: He couldn’t get at the truth anymore. The fans, the noise, all the garbage that was so saturated in the media distracted him from the evils of the world. In many ways, our lives are the same. Comics are after all, a tool of escapism; just like reality television and all the other entertainment we might mock. Transmetropolitan satirizes society, but we can’t always assume that we are in on the joke.


The Old and The New

Hello everyone,

Below is my latest past for comicommand



The popularity of Marvel and DC Comics almost leads to word association. Superhero comics are often tied to one of the two behemoths, since they are the oldest producers of superhero comics. However, it is this longevity that leads to one of the biggest issues of the big publishers. The plethora of comic book titles, events, authors and timelines for each character can make jumping in seem overwhelming for prospective readers. Not to mention relaunches such as the ultimate comics for Marvel, and rebirth for DC. These relaunches can serve the practical purpose of giving newcomers a fresh start, but that impact quickly fades once the new series reaches a certain point. In the case of the ultimate universe, catching up with sixteen years of comics is better than fifty, but can still be daunting. In the case of DC, I have heard great things about Rebirth, but it appears some of the most poignant moments I have heard of would not be as effective without some prior knowledge of certain story-lines. Entries on this site, such as the lists by the Commander, acknowledge this problem and are meant to provide recommendations for tackling the medium. However, the fact that lists like these are necessary attests to the issue.  Before readers get their pitchforks, I want to clarify that I am not trying to criticize the format of superhero comics or their rich history and diversity. I am only saying that, objectively, it does lead to of the strengths (in my opinion) that smaller imprints such as Vertigo and Image Comics have.


The last comic series I read was Vertigo’s Y The Last Man, a post-apocalyptic story where all male mammals spontaneously die, except for Yorick Brown and his pet monkey. I heard about the comic, it sounded interesting, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take another series on. What convinced me was seeing that it was only sixty issues. One weekend later, I binge read the entire series. It wasn’t only sixty issues because it got cancelled, but because that was the end of the story. Yorick’s journey ended, and the series ended with it.

I am also currently reading Image Comics’, The Walking Dead. Although the series is longer, currently on issue 155, it is likely to be a more straightforward read than decades of comics from other characters.

Marvel and DC titles do of course have graphic novels, or certain series for each character, like The Dark Knight Returns and the ongoing Injustice series. These stories can either be an alternate version of a character or simply an isolated story arc. These can provide a great introduction to characters but can also lose some impact for new readers. In the case of Injustice, the set up to the story is rooted in references to Doomsday and Scarecrow. If someone reading the series didn’t know the characters, then the story could lose its effectiveness. Some of these self-contained stories, do not really function as self-contained ones, still requiring some level of knowledge from other comics. Of course, this is typically only an issue for more popular characters like the Justice League, with (relatively) smaller titles such as Transmetropolitan being truly self-contained.


With The Walking Dead and Y The Last Man, all of the world building is done within the series. There are no related tie-ins, background info or even general comic knowledge that needs to be consulted. The story can simply be followed with one issue after another, with no need to switch between events. I do not have a problem with burying myself in the history of DC and Marvel. I know that for many people, the sheer variety is what draws them to comics. They look forward to seeing how a new writer handles their favourite characters. They don’t dread having to catch up, they look forward to it. The success of Marvel and DC Comics makes it clear that many people may not even see the limited stories of Vertigo and Image as a strength. I do look forward to reading more DC and Marvel comics, and getting more caught up with the stable of writers and stories available. This viewpoint is very subjective, I only hope that readers may be able to understand my point of view.