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JohnMcMahon

Fuckbiscuitshitangels (Warren Ellis)

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My friend convinced me to pick up Ellis' JLA: Classified arc, though I'm really unimpressed with the digital cover.

 

Ellis is going to be at the Toronto Comic Con next week, which I'll be attending. I would ask him to sign my Haunted TPB, but I know he left that book on not-so-good terms, so maybe it's best if I didn't.

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Screw that, man, print out the digital copies of 'Shoot' you have and make him sign those.

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Iron Man #3 was excellent...I'm just blown away by the art work.

So was I. I liked the dialogue and the action, really everything about it. I didn't realize how tired I had become of the "rich playboy with beautiful woman on arm when not being hero in super-suit" version of Tony Stark until I had this chance to see Stark's private life through Ellis' eyes. Also I really liked the fight scene,

with an ordinary man trying to control what is basically a computerized piece of equipment in real time, when fighting a man who's perhaps as strong is Stark is, with the suit.  And the explicit portrayal of the consequences of a fight between two super-powered people in a populated area, a much darker view than the lighthearted, no-fatalities approach taken in so many superhero stories.
To me, this was at least as good as the action in #2, and I'm looking forward to more of it. And we get some pages that give us the motivation for the guy who Stark is up against, which impressed me very much. Maybe I'll see flaws later, but after a good first-reading, I can't say enough positive things about Iron Man #3.

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But does this quote from Warren Ellis (spotted it on the often frustrating, but intermittently amusing fanboyrampage blog) about his superhero work at Marvel not strike anyone else as quite astonishingly arrogant, childish and unprofessional?

 

I'm the guy who gets paid many thousands of American pesos to fix up the house and then does a runner before the clapboard drops off and the pipes explode.

 

Maybe it's just me.

I can't say much about his history because I only know it spottily, but I think there's some truth to what he's saying. Isn't he a guy who gets things started and then moves on? Maybe he is making cracks about his own work, and maybe about the materials that he's given to build a story with, but what do you think might happen, for instance, to Iron Man, once he's no longer on it? I don't think it's shoddy in any way, but I can't imagine who could possibly continue the book in its present vein other then Ellis. So a collapse of the title sometime after issue #6 is not out of the question.

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Guest spiderlegs

If you really want to piss him off, send him an email asking if he plays saxophone in an Australian band. He gets lots of emails like that becfause apparently there's an up & coming Australian band with a Warren Ellis on sax. He even took the time to write me back and bitch me out for my lack of originality at pointing that out. How was I to know he'd been beaten to death by it? I was just trying to get my own band on his rotation list. That's worth about 10-20 extra listens...

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He's also the violinist with the Bad Seeds. But I'd imagine that'd be a source of frustration, too.

 

The reason I objected to the comment above was that, in context, it smacked heavily of "We all know no-one could really believe an artiste such as myself would be doing mainstream superhero work, so you all know I'm slumming it really, and fuck anyone who takes this shit seriously". Over the last few years Ellis has been, very publicly, dismissive at best (and downright hostile and offensive at worst) towards the idea of working on non-creator owned series again. It would appear that reality has set in, and he's taken on jobs like Ultimate Fantastic Four and Iron Man, because, hey, he needs/wants the money. Nothing wrong with that - he's a professional writer, after all, and sometimes writers have to take jobs they aren't that excited by to pay the bills, and allow themselves to do the other projects they're more personally involved in. But why does he have to be so goddamn pissy about it? If you're writing for Marvel, you forfeit the right to make snooty comments about how 'above' that sort of thing you are. That's my opinion, anyway - judging by the general tone of his 'Bad Signal' e-mail messages, Ellis doesn't see it that way.

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Guest spiderlegs

Oops. You are correct, and that was the band to which I referred. Thank you for correcting me. Saxophone? What the hell kind of crack did I smoke!

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Heh - I honestly thought you were thinking of a different band. It was the 'up-and-coming' part which confused me - the Bad Seeds have been around for a while now (mind you, Ellis - the other one - hasn't been with Cave for that long - he joined them around the time of Murder Ballads, I think, which was 1996...).

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Guest spiderlegs

Since I forgot it was the Bad Seeds, I knew they were known, so my brain sought to fill in the blank with "up & coming." I don't question my brain as to its work arounds until they get me in trouble.

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Yeah, I remember flicking through my first Nick Cave album and thinking, "No... surely not...?"

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well, it's not like the head honchos at Marvel mind him slagging off the titles he's writing...

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I think this time it's the artists fault. The guys new "art" takes forever to finish. He's almost as lazy as Gary Frank. I didnt realy like the first two issue's, No action and just Ellis babbling on about crap, not to mention the wait. I swear by the time this first arc actually finish's my great great grand kids will have graduated college (I'm 22 by the way, so you do the math.)

 

They need to fire the current artist and put somebody who actually gets stuff done by the deadline. or Before it.

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Oops. You are correct, and that was the band to which I referred. Thank you for correcting me. Saxophone? What the hell kind of crack did I smoke!

 

Warren Ellis (the musician) made his name with The Dirty Three which is his violin, along with a guitarist, and drummer. Although it doesn't sound like it, they do rock. Especially if you can catch them live in a small club. There are no lyrics but the band is worth checking out.

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Warren Ellis is a Writer with a capital W. Planetary is just awesome. Yes there is the slow decompressed state but I still feel its one of the best books in the past twenty years. Lately the only other thing of his to really wow me was is ORBITER. His Iron Man and Ultimate Nightmare are average at best to me.

 

What in your guys opinion is the best five things Ellis has written?

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Any 5 issues selected randomly from Transmetropolitan #1-20.

 

;)

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I just hate it how Ellis drops good ideas in the background, lately, and concentrates on the NU-TECHIE stuff instead...

 

 

The Atomic Bar from his Stormwatch series is a perfect example of him just dropping a cool idea, instead of developing it further...

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What in your guys opinion is the best five things Ellis has written?

 

Oooooooo....good question.

 

In no particular order -

 

* Transmet #1-#3 : A lot of folks highlight "Another Cold Morning" as the highpoint of the series but I loved that opening story arc, Spider hammering away on his keyboard as a riot raged below was the fucking business. I have a lot of time for the whole series and admit to smilinging like an idiot for days after reading the final issue.

 

* City Of Silence/Lazarus Churchyard : Precursors to the characters and themes explored in Transmet. City Of Silence is fucked up nonsense but for whatever reason it clicked with me.

 

* Stormwatch, Volume One, #37-#50 : THE best superhero stories told in the last 15 years at least and up there with classics like MiracleMan as far as I'm concerned.

 

* Hellstorm/Druid : The books that introduced Ellis to a mainstream US audience as well as teaming him with Leonardo Manco, one of the best horror artists in comics (for my money, anyway). Druid #4 features the best ending EVER and I stole it several times for numerous short stories I wrote way back when.

 

* Planetary #1-#12 : The opening salvos were excellent but things have dropped off since the revalation of the Fourth Man's identity - still good stuff but not classic material like the early issues. The Vertigo one is brill and the Japanese cop issue is just stunning.

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The Atomic Bar from his Stormwatch series is a perfect example of him just dropping a cool idea, instead of developing it further...

 

The one on the nuke testing site ? I believe that's a real bar as he's used it in serveral different comics.

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I was, obviously, kidding with my first comment here. Ellis has indeed written some top-notch stuff outside of Transmet, but none of it except Planetary has really come close to grabbing me to the same degree. I'd love to read his Stormwatch, though, if only because his run on The Authority wiped the floor with Millar's stuff, for my money, and I'd be keen to see more of the same. Kind of.

 

Transmet is still the measuring-stick for Ellis' best work, though. For the record, my favourite issues are probably:

 

#1-3 'Back on the Street' (although the whole opening story-arc is every bit as aces as McMahon claims, and still probably ranks as the best full story-arc in the series)

 

#6 'God Riding Shotgun' - Funny, biting, chock-full of brilliant ideas, and the last, almost-throwaway line about Spider's father still packs a genuine emotional punch.

 

#8 'Another Cold Morning' - Yes, I actually cried. Speculative sci-fi at it's most imaginative, and simultaneously it's most human. There's a reason so many people cite this as the best single issue of any comic Ellis has ever written - it probably is.

 

#18 'Bastard' - The whole 'Year of the Bastard' arc is good, but it's the finale which really makes it something special. Vita Severn was an interesting character, and I'm happy to admit that the last few pages of this issue really knocked me for six. It also marked the turning point in the overarching plot of the series - after this, it was a much more serious (and, to be honest, not really quite as good) comic, with perhaps fewer stand-out issues, but still some absolutely cracking ideas and scenes. From here on in, it really was a 'read-in-trades-only' title, though.

 

#60 'One More Time' - Unlike just about everyone in the world, apparently (apart from McMahon, who is clearly a man of impeccable taste), I loved the end of Transmet. Sure, it went a bit wonky in the final couple of years (although the iiiinnnnncccccrrrreeeeeedddiiibbbbbbbllllllyyyyy sllllllloooooowwwwwww pacing is, on the whole, far less problematic when read in trade form), but I really can't imagine a better final issue than this. It captures the sense of fun which characterised the series at it's best, and gave the central character a happy ending which, while undeniably (and self-avowedly) contrived, simply worked on an emotional level. A warm, heart-felt goodbye to the characters who I'd grown to love, and it beats the end of Preacher into a cocked hat, and then pisses on it. Repeatedly.

 

Too many other highlights to mention, but those are the issues which really stand out for me - bear in mind that it's a while since I read the series, though.

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The Atomic Bar from his Stormwatch series is a perfect example of him just dropping a cool idea, instead of developing it further...

 

The one on the nuke testing site ? I believe that's a real bar as he's used it in serveral different comics.

 

 

where else?

 

 

 

(oh and i agree with everything Mark said about Transmet... 'cept i forgot what the God Riding Shotgun issue was about...)

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It's the one where Spider goes down to the religious sector and rants about how shit religion is for 22 pages. More or less. Something of a polemic, but Ellis is a lot better at polemics than he is at measured debate, and he really gets to play to his strengths here.

 

I may be overrating this issue in my memory, but I remember absolutely loving it when I first read the Lust for Life trade, which was years ago now. I'll need to re-read Transmet at some point soon, either way...

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Guest spiderlegs

That in my opinion is the very best Transmet EVER! My next favorite comes later in the series collected in Dirge: the sniper in the print district during the near superstorm. I also thought that was some of Darick's best work on the series.

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