Page 45 Review by Publisher Blurb
DC has recently been repackaging its slimmer Vertigo volumes into heftier editions, and this combines the fifth and sixth - LONELY CITY and GOUGE AWAY - for little more money than those single editions. It also includes standalone stories such as 'Nobody Loves Me,' featuring guest artists Lea Hernandez, Kieron Dwyer, Bryan Hitch, Frank Quitely, and Eduardo Risso. Plus a story from Vertigo: Winter's Edge #3.
Crusading journalist Spider Jerusalem exacts vengeance on all he finds wrong in this future America, much of which being thinly disguised versions of the hypocrisy we see now, for as ever Warren is on top of the sagging spirit of our times. Witness this newsflash:
"English author declares US 'culture of victims'; beaten to death by crowd, participants sue author's family for damage incurred to knuckles, fingernails..."
And he has the knack of exposing social and legislative stupidity by reversing traditional perspective, as here when the city's chief pornographer pays a senator to filibuster the introduction of a progressive sex bill:
"Sure I did. Sexual freedom, the erasure of taboo by education, the intelligent discussion of sexual mores... these things are no good to a pornographer."
I don't know whether most of the graffiti and street signs are Warren's or Darrick's but these jokes also derive their humour from current trajectories, a supermarket providing particularly rich material (Spiced Seahorses In Brine, Dingo'N'Baby Stir Fry or the following trolley warning: "This cart releases an Ebola level virus when removed from lot" - well, that'll help clear up the canals). As the series progresses the art's becoming increasingly varied. The opening landscape shot, of a city drenched in rain while in the distance rays of sunshine burst through the clouds, is meteorologically perfect. Linger a bit and you'll see the odd explosion and rogue typhoon which signpost a future date.
It's raining again by the end of the book as Spider's defiance of the new President - in disseminating the truth - back-fires horribly. I couldn't, however, leave you without passing on this excellent restaurant outburst from one of Spider's Filthy Assistants which rates right up there with WHY I HATE SATURN for quotations that should be tried out in public:
"Waiter! I'll have another bottle of Chilean Merlot, the raspberry pavlova, ten minutes of oral sex and an ambulance, please."
Do let us know how you get on!
"What're you doing awake in the morning? Shall I call the paramedics?"
Spider Jerusalem is not a happy man. He's a ranting, raging, campaigning journalist of the future who doesn't like what he sees socially, politically, or on the telly. He doesn't like much, to be honest, except for his three-eyed cat and his filthy assistants. Spider Jerusalem is not Warren Ellis. <snort>
As the sixth volume kicks off, Spider's attempts to expose the President of the United States he's nicknamed the Smiler have resulted in a public massacre on Dante Street and a D-Notice banning its report. His next assault is on the public's perception of Jerusalem, turning him into a two-dimensional cartoon and an action hero, reducing him to a populist and ubiquitous media caricature so that he's perceived to be a sell-out, thereby extracting the journalist's sting. And it nearly works, sending Spider spiralling into a paranoid, drug-fuelled delirium:
"This is what you want, isn't it? All of us paying attention to you?"
"No, I wanted you to hear me!"
"We did. We just didn't listen."
"Of course we are. We're the public. We're the people who vote for blowjobs and soap opera. We're the people who take the news we're told at face value. We're the people who litter. We're the casual rapists, the idle mindfuckers, the parents every child remembers forever, the kids who beat old men because they smell funny. We're the people you've been talking to all along. We're the people you shriek at every week in your column -- But we don't read newspapers. God no. We're the ones who only see you on TV, or catch the diluted version quoted on feedsites. We've never listened to a word you've said.
"We're your audience."
Time to find a new audience. With Lea Hernandez, Frank Quitely, Bryan Hitch, Eduardo Risso and Kieron Dwyer each performing a guest-act on art during the opening chapter, it's a comedy treat that sets the stage for another: the shop-till-you-drop/drink-till-you-drown spree of his two female assistants who aren't about to take being targeted for assassination lying down. But that's as nothing compared to the cathartic satisfaction of the titular three chapters when Spider picks himself up, dusts himself down and kick-starts them all down a road from which there's no turning back. After all, a lot of the best art and all the best journalism is provoked by adversity.
"Alive and angry and directed.
"I'm not pretending that everything the Smiler's doing is all about me. That'd be insane, and I'm not that far gone yet. Dante Street was just killing a few birds with one stone, not just - perhaps not even a shot at me. But it was a clear message. He's prepared to delete the First Amendment. He's prepared to kill dissenting voices. He's prepared to do anything to get what he wants.
"Well, newsflash: So am I."
"I'm nobody's fucking cartoon."