Page 45 Review by Stephen
"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."