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Monday, July 21, 2003

Transmetropolitan
Part 1 in an irregular series of deconstructions

I finally picked up the first in the Transmetropolitan series, now defunct but currently being gathered into trade paperbacks. It's a curiously harsh bit of futurism, set in a violent city of the future where people have been tinkering with their own DNA and the omnipresence of communication and advertising is taken to an irrational extreme. In one clever aside, we discover that people from our own era (or close to it) chose to cryogenically freeze themselves to be awakened in "the future" -- but when they're awakened in the City, they go insane the minute they look out a window.

The superhero (and he is a superhero, complete with ridiculous explanation for his uncommon attire) is a thorougly-tattooed newspaper reporter named Spider Jerusalem, whose dominant characteristics are his prediliction to violence and his leftist politics. I say leftist, but that isn't exactly right. He has utter contempt for the weakness of the downtrodden, but he has even greater contempt for the restrictions imposed by the shadowy and repressive government, which means that he reluctantly comes out on the side of the Left. He's Hunter Thompson on cyberpunk: a strange combination of "The Punisher" and Rick from Casablanca. And I can't help but think that he represents some sort of dark empowerment figure for fed-up liberals who want to Fight The Power and who dream of taking out security guards with a cigarette to the eye. It's for everyone who suffers from a split personality, one half of which pays lip service to Jesus or Gandhi, while the other half secretly dreams of the Two-Fisted Fightin' Jesus!

You know how in The Matrix, people look like they think they look, not as they actually are? Spider Jerusalem is Adam Lipscomb when he's in The Matrix.

Anyway, one charming example of how Jerusalem represents the dark fantasies of the Left is the climax of the first book, in which Jerusalem manages to "do good" by doing nothing more than writing an op-ed piece that gets carried live on the communications network. It's not actual reporting, mind you, because he has absolutely no proof of his central accusation. It's the ultimate fantasy of every leftist blogger -- "as I was blogging about the Bush administration, Bush himself was reading my words, with a lone tear silently coursing down his cheek."

Anyway. It's primal entertainment for the Left, and I liked it very, very much. I just wish that I knew someone that would enjoy reading it.

 2:46 PM

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