Thursday, August 26, 2010

Comics That Deserve Your Time & Attention, Part 4: The Warren Ellis Edition

As I was gathering together what I wanted to talk about for this fourth part of me telling you what the best non-superhero comics are that you should be reading, I came to the realization that all of them are written by Warren Ellis.

Who the fuck is Warren Ellis you may be asking yourself? He's a crazed Brit comic writer who spends way too much time on the internet researching all sorts of weird shit that he somehow puts to use in his material.

In terms of more mainstream-aimed comics, he's responsible for stints on "Iron Man", "JLA Classified", "John Constantine: Hellblazer", "Thor", "Excalibur", and currently on "Astonishing X-Men". His limited series "Red" has been adapted into an action flick starring Bruce Willis and is on the way as well. His material, mainstream-aimed or not, is always popping with strange and brilliant ideas, and the comics that I'm going to mention here are no exception.

By the way, if comics still aren't your thing, he wrote a novel a year or so ago called "Crooked Little Vein", which you should Google right now and check out regardless...

DC/Vertigo Comics
Artist: Darick Robertson

In the seedy future, gonzo journalist Spider Jerusalem is on the case as he gets himself into all sorts of mishaps and dust-ups, never forsaking his journalistic integrity...or something of the sort. Filled with equal amounts absurd hilarity and "holy shit" moments, Ellis' classic "Transmetropolitan" is a masterpiece of comic fiction, with more nods to Hunter S. Thompson than you can shake your schlong at.

DC/Vertigo Comics
Artist: Colleen Doran

A love letter of sorts to the space program and venturing into the unknown, "Orbiter" is a science-fiction mystery in which a space shuttle re-appears ten years after vanishing in deep orbit. Only one of the astronauts on board remains, and the ship itself is covered in an organic material and hastened with alien technology. It's only when a group is assembled to figure out just what happened that things start to come together, right before they take a left turn and you're left with an emotional, awe-inspiring conclusion. The stunning artwork of Colleen Doran only makes "Orbiter" all the more special.

Artist: John Cassaday

A pulpy, almost X-Files-esque ongoing series in which a whacky team of heroes learn some shocking truths about our world. Aliens, monsters, and various other sorts of unmentionable horrors are told with such deft precision and intelligence that you'll be surprised just how addicting "Planetary" ends up being. Plagued with shipping delays throughout its run, the series sadly came to an end a bit prematurely, but should be given a look regardless.

Avatar Press
Artist: Juan Jose Ryp

I'm cheating again a little bit here, because there are various types of superheroes and supervillains that appear in "Black Summer". However, when's the last time you saw a Superman-type hero murder the President and his top advisors? And that's just the beginning! "Black Summer" is fairly "Watchmen"-esque in terms of the world and costumed folk that it presents, and begs the question as how much power can one person have before it ends up corrupting them? The artwork of Juan Jose Ryp is some of the most detailed and graphic that you will ever see.

Avater Press
Artist: Raulo Caceres

Told from the prespective of a soldier during the epic Battle of Crecy (look it up), "Crecy" finds Ellis packing in so much information in terms of medevil weapon uses and battle strategies that you'll have a hard time not being impressed in some way, shape, or form. That, and the fact that Ellis draws so many interesting parallels between this war from centuries ago and the war in Iraq that your head will spin. Quite short, but the exquisitely detailed artwork of Raulo Caceres makes "Crecy" worth picking up by itself.

That's all the Ellis even I can handle for now, but more to come soon!


  1. I could've sworn I commented on this already, but no Authority? What's wrong with you?

  2. Nope, no Authority. I thought about it, but considering the fact I wanted to keep it superhero free (yet I included Wanted & Black Summer), so who knows. I am actually thinking about including The Authority in the next installment, so we'll see.