Kate’s Review: “Transmetropolitan (Vol.3): Year of the Bastard”

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Book: “Transmetropolitan (Vol.3): Year of the Bastard” by Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson (Ill.), and Rodney Ramos (Ill.)

Publishing Info: Vertigo, September 1999

Where Did I Get This Book: I own it.

Book Description: Investigative reporter Spider Jerusalem attacks the injustices of the 23rd Century surroundings while working for the newspaper The Word in this critically-acclaimed graphic novel series written by comics superstar Warren Ellis, the co-creator of PLANETARY and THE AUTHORITY.

In this third volume, Spider Jerusalem begins to crumble under the pressure of sudden and unwanted fame. Having had enough of the warped 23rd century Babylon that he lives in, Spider escapes into a world of bitterness and pills. As he stumbles through this haze of depression and drugs, he must find a way to cover the biggest story of the year, the presidential election. Armed with only his demented mind and dark sense of humor, Spider embarks on an adventure of political cynicism, horrific sex, and unwelcome celebrity which culminates in a shocking and ruinous ending.

Review: When we left of in “Transmetropolitan”, things got a bit existential and a bit off track of the main plot. That isn’t to say that I didn’t appreciate the stories that we got in “Transmetropolitan: Lust for Life”. I actually really did enjoy them for what they were and what purpose they served. I liked learning more about the world that this series takes place in, and the limits and limitlessness that society lives with. But I’ll be honest, I was stoked to see that we were getting back into the down and dirty nitty gritty with “Transmetropolitan: Year of the Bastard”. Spider’s assistant Channon has left him in the lurch, and he’s turned to drugs and angst. But then he is approached by Vita Severn, the campaign manager of the candidate who is going to rival The Beast. This man is known as The Smiler, as he perpetually smiles and tries to show off a chipper demeanor to counteract The Beast.

Spider, of course, is NOT fooled by any of this bullshit.

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(source)

As much as maybe in this moment I needed someone to rail against The Beast in any way, shape, and form, it was very nice to see that Spider Jerusalem stayed true to form and showed a blatant mistrust for any and all politicians, even ones that could possibly take down the monster in charge. The whole point of this series is that corruption is rampant and a simple answer isn’t readily available because of it. But along with that, we get to see that sometimes in an imperfect situation, there are symbols of hope. And I am, of course, referring to the lovely, strong, and badass Vita Severn, the one friggin’ symbol of true hope that The Smiler’s campaign truly has.

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Here she is with a literal Princess Leia ‘do. That’s deliberate. (source)

I had completely forgotten about Vita. I know why I did (no spoilers), but this time around she left such a positive impression on me she has skyrocketed up to my top five favorite characters in this series. I love that Ellis writes women so well and in such varied ways. You have Channon, a volatile and snarky, but ultimately supportive and caring, ex stripper who will protect Spider at all costs. You have Vita, a brilliant political mind who knows that her choice in candidate is not perfect, but truly feels that it’s the only way to take down an even worse threat. And then, there’s the introduction of Yelena, Spider’s new assistant. Yelena is so different from Channon, in that she has no interest in hanging out with Spider, and deeply resents that she is being made to (she’s Spider’s boss’s niece). And if you thought that Channon didn’t take crap from Spider, Yelena is the absolute master of not taking crap from him. On my first read through of this series I wasn’t as into Yelena, but this time around, I am really enjoying her thus far. Even if she’s a bit 2 Edgy 4 Me at times.

As far as the plot progression goes, as I mentioned before, we get back on track with the main plot in this collection. Spider gets fully pulled into covering the Election, pressured to speak out in favor of the Smiler in spite of the fact that he finds the Smiler pretty corrupt in his own ways. I liked the issues that this raises, bringing up the questions of supporting someone who is flawed and bad in different ways in the name of dethroning and taking down someone who is the evil you already know. I can see arguments for both sides, and I think that Ellis does a good job of showing why both positions have their pros and cons. Along with this, we get to see how flawed Spider himself is. Sure, in the first two collections he’s definitely brash, violent, bitter, and rageful. But in this one we see that he’s also spiraling now that Channon is gone, and that his addiction to drugs is back in full swing. Spider is certainly based in part on Hunter S. Thompson, and it’s in storylines like these that we are reminded that Thompson himself was incredibly screwed up, no matter how brilliant he was. I love Spider, but I applaud that Ellis isn’t making him free of critique or problems that could really do damage to him and to those around him.

Plus, the ending of this collection…… It just gutted me. I had forgotten about it, and I gasped out loud when the big climax happened, because damn was it unexpected, and DAMN did it hurt.

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So much pain. SO MUCH PAIN. (source)

This series continues to be great, and I can’t wait to see what I rediscover next. Even if I know I’m going to get emotionally ravaged again and again. Thanks, Spider. Thanks a lot.

Rating 9: We are back on the main storyline and it goes as dark and darkly funny as you’d expect from this series. It was great seeing Yelena finally show up, and Spider continues to be both the best and the worst.

Reader’s Advisory:

“Transmetropolitan (Vol.3): The Year of the Bastard” is included on these Goodreads lists: “Great Non-Superhero Graphic Novels”, and “Bibles for the Revolution”.

Find “Transmetropolitan (Vol. 3): The Year of the Bastard” at your library using WorldCat!

Previously Reviewed:“Transmetropolitan (Vol.1): Back on the Street”, “Transmetropolitan (Vol.2): Lust for Life”.

January 2017 Highlights

Happy New Years everyone! Christmas is over and January has arrived, that time of year where we really should be in the gym working off the the cookies, but instead just want to curl up with all the new books we got for Christmas! And avoid the bitter, bitter cold. The year ahead looks great for new books, so let’s start things off right with our list for January.

Serena’s Picks

28962896Book: “The Cold Eye” by Laura Anne Gilman

Publication Date: January 10, 2017

Why I’m Interested: I haven’t reviewed it yet on this site, but the first book in this series, “Silver on the Road,” was one of my favorite reads in a long while. It’s essentially a fantasy western novel featuring a great heroine and unique magic system. The first book was almost a travelogue and had a very apprentice/mentor story line as Isobel learns her role as the Left Hand (pretty much a magical enforcer). I’m excited to see where the author takes this story! There were a lot of strings left hanging, especially with regards to her companion Gabriel’s back story.

28818314Book: “RoseBlood” by A. G. Howard

Publication Date: January 10, 2017

Why I’m Interested: This is a risky pick because it’s another one of those that is based on an original classic that I loved and so as all the more opportunity for disappointment. This time, a modern re-make of “The Phantom of the Opera” featuring a female Phantom? I think? I love this story, especially the musical version, so I’m intrigued by the idea of a young adult retelling of it. Of course, it could also be hugely disappointing based on these same high expectations and I’m also a bit unsure about its being set in the modern era? (Will there be texting and stuff??) But I can’t not check it out either, so we will see what comes of this!

30037275Book: “Heartstone” by Elle Katharine White

Publication Date: January 17, 2017

Why I’m Interested: I can’t help myself! Whenever I find a re-imaging of “Pride and Prejudice” I just have to read it, no matter that I’ve been burned so many times in the past! (And also, there are always exceptions like “Shades of Milk and Honey” that I mostly liked and the brilliant “Death Comes to Pemberley” that I very much liked). Anyways, this is yet another retelling somehow mixing Jane Austen’s classic tale with tons of magical beasts. Sounds kind of like “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” except insert gryphons, direwolves, and dragons in there instead of the zombies. Could be fun! Could be awful! Only one way to find out!

Kate’s Picks

29430791Book: “Little Heaven” by Nick Cutter

Publication Date: January 10th, 2017

Why I’m Interested: Nick Cutter is an author who has intrigued me, but i haven’t been able to read his last few books. With “The Troop” it was because it was parasite themed, and I am NOT here for that! With “The Deep” it was ocean horror based, and I’m not here for that either (unless sharks are involved, otherwise nope)! But now this one sounds like wilderness, paranoia horror, and THAT I am here for! He’s had a lot of good buzz, and so I’m finally stoked that my neuroses can be held at bay as I read this one.

29244734Book: “X-Files Origins: Devil’s Advocate” by Johnathan Mayberry

Publication Date: January 3rd, 2017

Why I’m Interested: BECAUSE DUH! It’s “The X-Files”! Also, it’s a story about Scully when she’s a teenager! I love both Mulder and Scully, but I think that of the two Scully is the more interesting one. One of the reasons for that is that she is a skeptical and grounded scientist, but she is also deeply religious. And this story goes back to her teenage years and tries to give origins to why she is a skeptic, with a backdrop of Satanic Panic and murder serving to set the scene. I am beyond excited for this. And not just this, because….

29244700Book: “X-Files Origins: Agents of Chaos” by Kami Garcia

Publication Date: January 3rd, 2017

Why I’m Interested: BECAUSE THERE IS A SECOND ONE FROM MULDER’S SIDE! If I find Scully the more interesting of the two, I find Mulder to be the more relatable of the two (I am such a believer, or at least want-t0-believer). So of course I’m also going to read this book! Is this a cheat to pick both? NO. They’re totally different stories from different writers. The description for this one is just as vague as the one for Scully’s, but I don’t even care because I will be on board for this no matter what.

What books are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments!