Saturday, May 31, 2003

Transmetropolitan: Dirge, written by Warren Ellis, pencils by Darick Robertson, inked by Rodney Ramos

Spider Jerusalem Lives!

At least, for me he does. I know the regular series has finished its run, but for those yuppies like me who get their Transmet fix through the trade paperbacks (this volume, the eight, collects issues #43-48), Spider is still ranting, acting like a pig, and fighting the good fight.

(OK, I take it back. I'm not a yuppie, really I'm not.)

Callahan is still tyrant president, Spider is still fired and writing for the underground (undernet?) news organization called the Hole. Yelena and Channon still love and hate Spider in equal measure. And Spider's feud with Callahan is still coming to a head, which would be even more frustrating if not for the occassional verbal slugfest between the two. I have to admit to some impatience with the pace of the story. Spider's ailment is finally revealed, and Callahan makes a big move, but other than that not much happens in this volume. I want more.

The Big Book of the Weird Wild West, by John Whalen (and over sixty writers and artists, whom I'm not going to list here)

I really think all the Big Books should be in every home. That said, this particular edition is not the best of the bunch. There are some great and creepy stories here, like those of Liver-Eatin' Johnson and John Joel Glanton, but there are some which are neither so weird nor so entertaining as to warrant a mention here. Still, as I said, you should collect them all!

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

The most overhyped novel of 2000 is actually a pretty good yarn. I don't hold with some of the critical lauds of Chabon's prose: some of the "rapturous passages" and "gorgeous sentences" were obstructions, I felt, to the thoroughly engrossing story. Still, it's a minor quibble. Chabon writes cleanly and honestly, gives appropriate weight to the pulpy tales of the Luna Moth and the Escapist, and never disrespects the medium in which his titular characters earn their living. What's more, the impact of the Holocaust on Josef Kavalier's family (and on Joe himself) is deeply felt, despite the physical distance between their story and the main narrative.

I enjoyed this, but I still think it was overhyped. If the very concept of taking comic books seriously wasn't foreign to so many critics, I doubt it would have made the splash it did. It's a good novel, but I'm not sure it's great.