Transmetropolitan Vol. 1: Back on the Street  - Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson, Garth Ennis
A broken, disturbed brain-baby that occurred when a clone of Hunter S. Thompson got influenced by Jonny the Homicidal Maniac instead of The Great Gatsby. Ah, well, that's how I like to think of it, at least.

The collection is very much a character piece, and hinges on the idea of its protagonist anti-hero being a character who you can hang your hat on, so to speak. If you have a stomach for intelligent, obviously insane bad boys with a taste for firepower, then you more than likely have your foot in the right door with this series. If you like good science fictions set in a dystopian future (think along the lines of the Dark Knight Returns), then how have you not read this yet, seriously?

A Thomspon with his rantings toned down just the tiniest of smidges and a mind that matches the array of tattoes that cover his body, Spider Jerusalem pulls off the tightrope walk of being a fully dimensional character while jumping up and down gleefully in satire. The bizarre and the starkly realistic make for good bedfellows in the first few issues of the series. You may not know, precisely, what Jerusalem will do in a given situation, but underneath the fire bombing and the bludgeoning is a surprisingly sweet character who almost seems to dare his readers to not like him at first panel. Despite his assurance that he would enjoy being alone for the rest of his life, he takes to human interaction with the zest of a child on pixie stix, and despite the air of cynicism that seems to surround him there exists humanity that can be glimpsed as he watches the innocent get hurt and abused.

The art and the story are great in this collection - amazing, really, with the art in the panel in which Spider peers at his then-new glasses (the creation of a sort of atomizer who is literally high off of drugs) being my hands-down favorite in the collection. The subtlety of Spider's crooked teeth and the surprising vulnerability in his eyes never fail to amaze in the artful manner in which both are drawn. The world feels fully imagined while retaining a bit of whimsy that is reminescent of not-quite a dream and not-quite a nightmare, and sex and violence are as ho-hum as a Happy Meal - but, like the story's protagonist, there still exist emotional vulnerabilities that are always unexpected when they are found.

I drove out to get this book from the library, and I do not regret in the least that I had waited to borrow it. After reading this, I can only wonder how it is that the city survived the second that Spider had left it for the mountains.