The adventures of Spider Jerusalem, renegade reporter and eccentric seeker of the Truth (capital T at all times) have their origins collected in this book containing the first 6 issues of Transmetropolitan, a hard-hitting and humorous satire of the world of the future, where there are few gleaming ivory towers, and everything seems to have carried on much as you would expect from seeing the world today.
In the 1970s, largely as a result of the work of maverick reporter Hunter S. Thompson, a new style of journalism emerged, known as Gonzo Journalism. All claims of objectivity and remoteness were thrown out the door, and the author inserted themselves into the story, using their own view and experiences to describe the event. What this created was a method of writing that transformed the way social and political events were portrayed, by making them more personal, gritty and visceral for the reader. Thompson himself used this to spectacular effect during his coverage of the election campaign in which Richard Nixon was running for president.
Thompson himself probably contributed a great deal to the success of this genre, as the image of himself that was formed, of a person who took drugs, drank and smoked cigarettes the way the average person drinks coffee, certainly created a devil-may-care, acerbic persona that was certainly very unique for the public. What Transmetropolitan has done is simply take that person of Thompson and put him into a new body, called Spider Jerusalem, and put him in the world of the 23rd century; which is one way of showing us that the more things change, the more things definitely stay the same.
At the start of series, Jerusalem has left The City (the largest metropolis in the USA, implied to be New York, but indeed represents America as a whole) as a result of his disillusionment with the society there. He had previously found fame and fortune for his coverage of the election campaign of “The Beast,” the authoritarian and corrupt president, who is himself a very definite representation of Richard Nixon. Jerusalem now lives as a hermit in the countryside, until he gets an order from his publishers, with whom he still has an outstanding contract, to return. Jerusalem soon finds himself mixed up with alien riots, religious extremists, and the dangerous world of television Infomercials.
The beauty of Spider Jerusalem as a character is that while at times he seems like the sort of person you might want to hit, he is undoubtedly the good guy, and shows levels of goodness to those who deserve it, only taking out his madcap vengeance on those who have shown themselves to deserve it. The series is also deeply comedic, hitting the sweet spot of graphic novels where the text works perfectly together with the space and images to create humour. Transmetropolitan will always entertain in one way or another, and at the same time will also educate or enlighten in others.
Transmetropolitan may seem needlessly cynical at first viewing, showing a future that seems almost entirely ruined. But upon reading further, one can clearly see that people are still people, still subject to the same desires, hopes, dreams and fears, and still capable of great good and evil. The series is also incredibly entertaining for the fact of getting to see what idea of the future the authors have thought of next, as many are either new, or done in such a way as to function in a new way. Fans of speculative fiction will enjoy the series for this reason as well. At the end of the day, there is nothing else quite like Transmetropolitan out there, and any graphic novel fan should try and give it a read at least once.