Transmetropolitan (or TRANSMET as it is abbreviated) was conceived as a limited run series of 60 issues telling the story of 5 years in the life of journalist Spider Jerusalem when he is forced to return to the City (never named) which he hates (but is the only place he can work). He became famous for a Hunter S. Thompson style political journalism about the incumbent President during a previous political campaign.

Whilst Warren Ellis provides the edge and barb of the stories and ideas, it is Darick Robertson who gives both the City and Spider their distinctive look and style. From the bizarrely styled live shades and the three-eyed gekko eating cat to the graphitti and characters in the backgrounds on the streets. The covers are also amazing with some of the great and good of the comics world providing art in three-issue sets including Moebius, Geoff Darrow, Dave Gibbons, and Frank Quitely.

The story is written in 3 (and occasionally 6) issue arcs with major breaks at each year end. These are enjoyable and satisfying on their own but are building up into a single epic tale of politics, betrayal, and two-fisted journalism. Mister Ellis is on record as stating that he is writing TRANSMET with an eye to it being read in collections rather than particularly for the individual comics (not a lot of recap etc.).

There are 10 volumes collecting the entire 60 issue run of the comic. Apart from the first couple they are 6 issues each. The collections (in order) are:

  1. Back on the Street - 3 issue introductory story to the characters and feel of the series. Spider is forced to return (to fulfill a book contract) and becomes involved in a riot.
  2. Lust For Life - 9 issues of stories showing the diversity (and 'anarchy') of the City whilst introducing a lot of the background that will become important later (read it - there will be a test!).
  3. Year of the Bastard - The Country is gearing up for the election and the candidates are coming to the City. Spider is in his element pursuing his old adversary the President (or "The Beast" as Spider christened him and even his children call him). But is the challenger "The Smiler" any better (this character's similarity to Tony Blair is not accidental).
  4. The New Scum - It's Election time and Spider continues to investigate (and harrass) the two candidates. Are either of the candidates worth supporting?
  5. Lonely City - The Election is over and Spider is upset about the outcome (not that any result would have pleased him). New technology and old prejudices lead to problems for the authorities and a column for Spider. But will he survive to see it published? (note: the introduction to this volume is written by Patrick Stewart of ST:NG).
  6. Gouge Away - Digging deeper Spider finds things that some important people want buried, and they will stop at nothing to keep them hidden.
  7. Spider's Thrash - Spider is on the run after his revelations at the end of the last volume. But he is still digging and has found a new publisher for his columns.
  8. Dirge - The city press is under seige, with no police to protect them. Then the mother of all storms hits wreaking severe damage. In its aftermath comes a more personal disaster for Spider.
  9. The Cure - With all his evidence destroyed in the storm and a unavoidable deadline, Spider has to face his demons whilst the threat of martial law hangs over the City. With a little luck and some help from his 'friends' he might still make it.
  10. One More Time - As the troops invade the city Spider pulls out all the stops to bring the truth to the people. But even if he survives his confrontation with the President can he face his own mortality?
The later summaries are written from the original issues not from the volumes.

There is a lot of interesting background and throwaway details that make this a very deeply textured and enjoyable book. Particularly there are all sorts of things that seem irrelevant until 20-odd issues later. There are also all kinds of underplayed jokes like the references to The Night of the Phone in Prague ("Spider is bored in a room with a telephone and people will die").

There have also been two collections of Spider's Columns called "I Hate It Here" and "Filth of the City". They are short prose pieces over single and double page illustrations by a veritable Who's Who of current comic artists. It is not clear whether these will ever be collected.

Of interest is the fact that this was originally one of the last comics published under DCs science fiction imprint Helix, but it switched to their general Vertigo line when Helix folded after TRANSMET's first year.

Warren Ellis has noted that at least thematically this is a sequel to his Lazarus Churchyard and City of Silence comics.

A large number of the story and volume titles are drawn from songs by groups like the Pixies.


One warning, anyone with a low tolerance for swearing may not enjoy TRANSMET. I lent it to my Brother who showed it to our Father who's response was "I don't know if you should be reading this - in fact I'm not sure I should be reading it.". For the irony impaired I'm 40 my Brother is 38 and my Father has a good sense of humour (but basically never swears - except when he hits his thumb with a hammer).
Apologies to dokool for not updating this often enough.
The Definitive Transmetropolitan Capsule Guide

Here it is, descriptions for Issue #1 through #60. Spoilers abound, of course. If you plan on reading the entire series, then don't read this. The first three issues were released under Helix, but then the comic switched to DC’s Vertigo label. All writing by Warren Ellis, art by Darick Robertson, inking by Rodney Ramos.

Asterisks (*) indicate self-contained issues or storylines. You can read these issues independently, with no back-story required. Of course, a knowledge of Transmet is preferential. For books 1 and 2, I just Asterisked the TPB titles, because neither of them are about the main storyline. TPB 1 is for learning about Spider. TPB 2 is learning about the City. Then the fun begins.

At signs (@) indicate issues that end without the Transient symbol in the bottom right-hand corner, as is custom in most issues of Transmet.

Ampersands (&) indicate personal favorites, whether it be for art, quotes, or the story. Read these with a vengeance.

Groups of issues are spaced by their grouping in the trade paperbacks.

FINAL WARNING: LOTS OF SPOILERS! TONS OF THEM! BY THE BARREL!

(*TPB 1: Back On the Street)
Issue 1 - The Summer of the Year. Famous ex-journalist Spider Jerusalem is called back into duty, in order to fulfill a lingering two-book contract with whom we know only as The Whoremonger. Upon returning to The City, he gets a job working under editor Mitchell Royce at The Word after invading the newspaper's office. Spider gets an apartment (with a maker), but loses all of his hair, becoming the bald Jerusalem we all know and love. His first column? An expose on the Transient movement, led by the alien love messiah Fred Christ.

Issue 2 - Down the Dip. Spider crosses into Transient territory and finds his old buddy, Fred Christ, after stomping a couple Transients who wouldn't let him past checkpoints or doors. Fred goes on to talk about the history of the Transient movement, and how they've had enough ill treatment and how the Angels 8 District is suceeding from The City and joining the Vilinus Colony. Sick of Fred's lack of ability to get the picture, Spider leaves, noting several lawyers hanging out at a bar. Something's up. Outside his apartment, Spider meets a three-eyed, gecko-eating cat, and takes him inside. The phone rings, which is strange because he thought it was dead. Turns out that Royce controls the line ("Remember what happened when you were alone with a phone in Prague? Remember how many people died?") After discussing the status of his column, Jerusalem turns on the TV to see that there's a riot going on in Angels 8, and the cops are shooting anything that moves. The issue ends with him rushing back to the scene.

Issue 3 - On the Roof. Spider reaches Angels 8 to see cops smashing in heads of Transients. Realizing that unless he does something, there won't be a Transient alive by sunrise, Spider goes to the best vantage point he can find - a strip club. Getting past security, he goes up the stairs to the roof, followed by a party of interested strippers who have decided to "trust the fuckhead." Spider calls up Royce on his laptop and starts typing, beaming his column straight to his editor's desk. Knowing a good thing when he sees one, Royce sells the column to SPKF, which broadcasts the column live on all of it's feedsites. This results in Civic Center getting flooded with calls, causing the cops to retreat from Angels 8. Spider finds out what Royce did, regretting the fact that while he's saved the Transients, he is once again famous. While walking home from Angels 8, Spider gets stomped on by CPD cops.

(*TPB 2: Lust For Life)
Issue 4 - On the Stump. Spider is writing his column from a new apartment given to him by The Word, when Royce shows up on the laptop, with news of a new assistant for the journalist. Unenthusiastic about the idea, Jerusalem preps his newly-bought bowel disruptor as he opens the door. Channon Yarrow, a stripper who was working at the time of Spider's visit during the Transient riots. After a discussion on house rules and journalistic concepts, the two head to Arkadin Hall, where the President is seeking money (now that the Secret Service is charging for protection). They manage to slip past Arkadin Hall security, and when Spider has to go to the bathroom ("I quit Jumpstart pills, and now I'm looser'n a Catholic womb"), he must bypass the Secret Service, to find that the President is urinating. The two argue (with a soundproofing can active), and Spider leaves- but not before putting his bowel disruptor to good use.

Issue 5 - What Spider Watches On TV - To re-associate himself with The City and learn more about its culture, Spider decides to stay at home all day and watch TV. Channon's boyfriend comes to pick her up, and gets scared by the cat. Spider flips through channels and, after being amused by the ad, buys a pair of Air Jesus sneakers. He continues to flip channels until the sneakers arrive (and he falls off the ceiling while testing them), until he finds a talk show. Jerusalem calls up the talk show and berates the guest. He instructs the TV to find more call-in shows and plays phone-terrorist, until the Whoremonger calls to remind him of the book deal. It turns out that Spider is on Amfeed news, since one of his call-in victim is being talked down from the ledge of a tall building. Channon returns with TV food, just as the TV begins to flash. She manages to cover her eyes, but Spider doesn't. When he goes to sleep, TV ads start playing in his dreams. Spider wakes up to find out that he has been hit with a "buy-bomb", compressed advertising that plays out in your dreams.

&Issue 6 - God Riding Shotgun. Now that Spider has gotten the IRS to write off his Jumpstart pills, he's dressed as Jesus and ready to cause some havoc. Waking Channon ("Stir your godless, fornicating ass out of your pit, woman! Roust! There is work to be done!"), he then orders her to bring up information on new religions in the city (There's one new church vested every hour). On the way to a religious convention, Spider confronts Channon with the fact that her boyfriend doesn't love her, which she admits to knowing and verbally assaults Spider for saying so. They go to the convention, where Spider reveals a fraud, beats up a minister in the Church of Release, and starts causing mayhem in the convention.

Issue 7 - Boyfriend Is a Virus. Channon's boyfriend has broken up with her, and today he's going to commit suicide. Pressed by Spider, Channon admits that he's really joining a foglet community. Spider knows which community this is, and declares that Channon will not only go to see her ex's "downloading", but will be writing this week's column. On the way to the Downloading Center, Spider educates Channon on the history of "downloading." At the Center, the two meet Tico Cortez, who demonstrates the power that the foglets wield. Channon watches the Downloading, and sees her ex-boyfriend turn into a foglet, a pink cloud of nanomachines strung together by an electrical field.

Issue 8 - Another Cold Morning. This issue isn't about Spider so much as it is about Mary Bannister, a photographer in the 20th century who was cryogenically preserved. Jerusalem writes about the process that Revivals go through, and how they are revived, given their money back, and released into a world that they were never meant to live in. Some go into shock, and most stay in Revival hostels, because we "wouldn't have it any other way."

Issue 9 - Wild In the Country. Spider is writing again, this time about the Reservations, artificial historical communities that are locked off from the outside world, but free to visitors. He visits the Caledonia Reservation, the Akita Prefecture Reservation, and the Tikal Reservation (the 10th of its' kind, as each Tikal Reservation dies out). Between each visit, he gets turned down by several women, including the director of the Reservations, a doctor preparing him for his visit, a random fan, and a SPKF listener. Spider also visits the Farsight Community, a reservation that studies advanced and dangerous technology through use, to prevent the problems of the future from happening. Upon returning home, Spider learns that Channon is becoming a Bride of Christ. Fred Christ.

Issue 10 - Freeze Me With Your Kiss Part 1 of 3. Spider gets a call from a cryogenic lab saying that his wife is missing. Uncaring, he hangs up to see Channon leaving to her nunnery. Jerusalem gets another call, this time from Royce. Spider's editor has a death threat on his desk, signed by 500 people. The conversation is interupted when Spider opens the door to see 3 men with guns. He dispatches all three, then calls the police to report a break-in and the use of deadly self-defense. The dispatcher] informs Spider that his insurance has been cancelled, and that an officer will be around to investigate. When Spider calls Royce to sort things out, he finds the line is dead. We then meet CPD K9 Stomponato, and learn of his unfortunate meeting with the journalist before he's called to the scene. Spider drops off the cat at a neighbor's before leaving, and we end in Royce's office, where a headless child is asking where his daddy is.

Issue 11 - Freeze Me With Your Kiss Part 2 of 3. Flashback to Paris, where a young Spider Jerusalem meets with a leader of the French resistence after the War of the Verbals, when the English language gained control of France. Coming back to the present, Stomp arrives at Pupin Grove, and leaves his mark on Spider's maker. Spider continues writing his column on a street sidewalk, while Royce investigates leads into the cancellation of Spider's insurance and the death threats. Using a credit card, Spider opens a phone line to reach Royce, and beams his editor some pictures of his would-be assassins. Royce reveals that they are the same men who brought in the death threat, which is related to a column Spider did about bad practices at a gene farm. Realizing who may be behind this, Royce detains his assistant, who admits to sleeping with the vice president of the Oncogene Farm and cancelling Spider's insurance. She also has her own motives as well. Meanwhile, Spider is hiding in a pay toilet, through which several chemical-proof-suited men are cutting a hole...

&Issue 12 - Freeze Me With Your Kiss Part 3 of 3. Royce's assistant tells of how Spider Jerusalem made her into a porn star while researching a column at a strip club that engineered orgies in the audience. Stomp gets hit by a car, assaulted by cats, and watered by holy men, while Spider is detained by Zero Tactility people and sentenced to death. Their motive? Spider's wife committed the holiest of taboos in their culture, and since she is dead, Spider must recieve her punishment. As they stand ready to push Spider into the ocean, Stomp arrives, leaping towards Spider... and over Spider... and down the waterfall. the ZT people show that they have Spider's wife (in head form, of course). Spider takes his wife's head and throws it over the ledge. Problem solved. Jerusalem returns to Royce's office ("I am returned from the grave! Let this day be known hereafter as Easter, and stuff your kids with sugar and caffeine in thanks."), where he throws the headless child out the window. It turns out that the child was an assassination device sent by the French government ("I thought lopping its head off in St. Lucia had finished it.")

(TPB 3: Year Of the Bastard)
@Issue 13 - Year Of the Bastard Part 1. Spider has a rough time waking up, but eventually turns on SPKF's newsfeed. He studies an interview of Callahan's political director, Dr. Vita Severn, when Royce calls him to discuss Spider's lack of election coverage. Spider tries to watch a bit on the Opposition Party, but gives up. He then decides to pay a visit to Kristin, a political consultant turned drug pusher. After Kristin tells him that the Smiler's the only person who can beat The Beast, Spider announces to an SPKF Listener (along with a large crowd of bystanders) that he will be covering the Opposition Party Convention. He also announces to the Whoremonger (if he's listening) that his first book will be a compilation of his Word columns. The second book will be about the presidential campaign. Then, Spider will return to his mountain.

@Issue 14 - Year Of the Bastard Part 2: Badmouth. Spider visits Royce to accept his challenge, and meets his new assistant, Yelena Rossini (also Royce's niece.) He comes home, cranks up the volume on the TV, and starts gathering information. The next morning he arrives at the Convention, and it's obvious that Spider and Yelena aren't going to get along. Spider meets Vita, as well as Alan Schact, Callahan's political consultant. He steps on a pill that he had palmed, Source Gas is released into the room. The three sit down, along with Callahan, who recites a poem without breaking his trademark smile. Spider can sense some friction between Alan and Vita, so he offers to reschedule. Upon leaving, he goes straight to the bathroom, turns on his laptop, and listens in on the room through the Source Gas]. What Spider hears is a different Smiler, who refers to the disenfranchised as the New Scum, and wants to make a deal with racist candidate Bob Heller.

@Issue 15 - Year Of the Bastard Part 3: Smile. Spider's article causes chaos as the Smiler's approval rating drops. Spider is accosted by members of the press who want to know more about his sources and the article. Yelena gets interviewed as well. Jerusalem decides to investigate the other Opposition candidate, Bob Heller. Heller presents a platform for the "strong", and calls the Smiler "weak." At the apartment, Vita pays a visit to Spider, asking him to support the Smiler. As they talk, Spider grows to like Vita more and more, and writes in his latest column that she is the only reason that people should vote for Callahan.

@Issue 16 - Year Of the Bastard Part 4: Hate. Thanks to the marvel of modern publishing, Spider's first book ("I Hate It Here") reaches the streets within less than a week of his announcement. Spider doesn't take the news well, so Yelena is faced with the responsibility of fending off his phone calls. She talks to her uncle Royce, and we gain insight into Spider's rampant drug addiction. Meanwhile, Spider takes a walk. The crowd behind him grows as he leads them to Cluny Square, a poor section of the City that The Beast created. He lectures the crowd (And a Listener) on the state of things there, and says that he's not endorsing Callahan, but rather that he's endorsing whoever kicks out The Beast. Spider returns to his apartment, where Yelena is waiting for him. Tomorrow, the Opposition chooses its candidate.

@Issue 17 - Year Of the Bastard Part 5: Love. Spider wakes up with his right arm numb. As he clears out the mental spiderwebs, he realizes that his right arm is pinned down, by Yelena. The cat wakes them up, and suddenly both of them remember what happened last night. Spider gets a call from Vita, who's at the convention center. Apparently these two could be more than friends. At the convention, Callahan gets Florida, and the Party nomination. He now has 12 hours to select a running mate, during which time Spider reflects on having had sex with his bosse's niece. At 3:59PM, Callahan chooses Joshua Freeh to be his VP candidate. Spider's never heard of him, so obviously something is up. The fix is in, and Spider rousts Yelena to work as he prepares to uncover the truth.

@Issue 18 - Year Of the Bastard Part 6: Bastard. Spider Jerusalem goes on the investigative journalism warpath, calling in all his contacts and getting bribe money from Royce to find out everything about Josh Freeh. The search takes Spider to a Bastard Farm, where humans are grown. When Spider and Yelena go to the Callahan/Freeh Q&A session, they get stopped by security, until the guard is knocked out by Channon. Channon has left Fred Christ's church, with proof that Fred paid for Josh Freeh's conciousness upgrade. At the Q&A session, Spider drops the bombshell. The next day, Vita Severn begins to make an announcement regarding the Freeh endorsement, when she is assassinated. Kristin finds Spider mourning at her gravestone. Now that Callahan's approval rating is at 78% and rising, Kristin tells Spider that "It's going to be a good year for bastards, Spider... and their running mates."

(TPB 4: The New Scum)
@Issue 19 - The New Scum - One: New Home. Spider walks down the street, and is admired by several of his fans. He comes home to his new apartment, in Pastoral Mews. His filthy assistants (for Channon is now his bodyguard) are waiting for him, but he goes to the balcony to write. The Beast isn't doing anything to campaign, forcing Callahan to play out his hand. When he goes to take a nap, Channon decides to empty out Spider's live shades. She then sees the pictures that they took during Spider's night with Yelena. A shrine has been erected in honor of Vita Severn. Spider starts a dictation, "Notes on the murder of Dr. Vita Severn by the office of Senator Gary Callahan."

@Issue 20 - The New Scum - Two: New City. Spider is in The City, when he comes across a group of Rechristians stoning a guy for committing some unknkown crime. Their leader then gets introduced to the business end of a bowel disrupter. Further down the street, a bunch of techno-anarchists set off an Information Bomb, disabling all electronic devices within the cordoned-off area. Spider muses on The City's apathy towards the election. Back at Mews, Channon and Yelena discuss the ramifications of the latter's romp with Spider. The man himself returns, to learn that Royce called to tell him that he's set to interview The Beast tomorrow morning.

@Issue 21 - The New Scum - Three: New President. Spider is summoned to a posh hotel so that he may interview The Beast. Unfortunately, his bowel disrupter is confiscated. We gain insight into The Beast, but not much else happens here, except for the planting of a guerilla nanotransmitter gel by Spider, which causes the Beast to hallucinate having sex with Barbary apes suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. "Spider Jerusalem - Cheap, but not as cheap as your girlfriend."

@Issue 22 - The New Scum - Four: New Streets. Great art in this one, nothing too forward in the way of plot. Spider muses on life as we see lots of things happening in The City. He meets with Mary, and gives her a camera. "THESE ARE THE NEW STREETS OF THE CITY, WHERE THE NEW SCUM LIVE. YOU AND ME. AND HERE IN THESE STREETS ARE THE THINGS THAT WE WANT: SEX AND BIRTH, VOTES AND TRAITS, MONEY AND GUILT, TELEVISION AND TEDDY BEARS. BUT ALL WE'VE GOT IS EACH OTHER. YOU DECIDE WHAT THAT MEANS."

@Issue 23 - The New Scum - Five: New Boss. Spider is invited to interview Senator Callahan. During the interview Callahan's demeanor becomes less of a facade and more of he actually is: an evil bastard who will do nothing but ruin the country. When Spider drops the Vita bombshell, Callahan says everything, including admitting that he hired somebody to do the job ("I'm going to surf straight into the white house on them big old dead tits of hers"). The Smiler then threatens Spider with his own destruction, and then drops his own bombshell: Spider's recording equipment was nullified as soon as he entered the building. ("We were never here.")

@Issue 24 - The New Scum - Six: New Scum. While Spider laments on being a "fuckwit amateur," Channon and Yelena host an election-night party]. As Yelena gets progressively intoxicated, Channon bugs her about Spider until Yelena admits what she did with her boss. She further admits that she's not Royce's niece, and we see that Spider is no less than a few feet away when she says it. The results come in, and Gary Callahan is the next President of the United States. Spider Jerusalem and his filthy assistants celebrate by tossing grenades into the City, the fireworks lighting up the night sky.

(TPB 5: Lonely City)
*Issue 25 - Here To Go. Spider Jerusalem reflects on death. He talks about the first time he learned about death, the first time he found death funny, a tale he heard from a girl who misses her brother, and the mountain he plans on going back to. This turns out to be for an interview. The cameraman eventually pays the price (via Channon) for not providing ample payment.

*Issue 26 - 21 Days In The City. This is similar to the two Transmetropolitan art compilations released, "I Hate It Here" and "Filth Of the City," except for the fact that Darick Robertson does all the art. There's not much to say about it, and the issue really deserves a node of it's own, which I'll write after I finish writing this one.

&*Issue 27 - Monstering! Spider decides to educate his filthy assistants on the old journalistic art of Monstering ("It's the art of abusing people... sending them to their fucking grave with questions...it's sort of like being a photographer, except we've never yet killed any royalty doing it. Yet.", when Senator Sweeney is accused of covertly funding porn films. The gang resorts to tactics from invading his press briefing (while shouting for a description of Senator Sweeney's penis); to bugging his car, to bugging his toilet. They eventually find an old warehouse, where many of the films Sweeney funded (and participated in!) were made. They get evidence from the city's chief pornographer, and the issue ends with the three running to catch a press conference where the Vice President will be defending Sweeney.

Issue 28 - Lonely City Part 1 of 3. A teen, Rory Flanagan Lockwood, is found dead, with a G-Reader (genome scanner) on his body. His genome is present on the G-Reader, and holds the "sexgang" trait, a gene which causes one to have multiple sex organs. This was a race killing, and Spider is on the case when he realizes that CPD isn't releasing nearly as much information on the suspects as they should be, in an age where over a dozen cameras must have caught the perpetrators in action. He meets Detective Newton, who doesn't offer Spider any assistance. Spider then calls Royce to try to dig up the tapes.

Issue 29 - Lonely City Part 2 of 3. Spider's pressuring leads to the CPD arrest of four suspects in the Lockwood killing, as protestors and family members gather outside the CPD HQ. The trio arrives at the scene to cover the story, just as CPD starts sealing off Dante Street. As Spider & assistants start backing out, the suspects get released on bail, straight into the crowd. Suddenly, the cops open fire, turning Dante Street into a kill zone. Spider and Channon take out two CPD officers in an attempt to escape. Yelena reaches Royce on the phone, and learns that when the tapes are pieced together, Rory Lockwood was killed as a police car watched from 100 yards away.

Issue 30 - Lonely City Part 3 of 3. Spider, Channon, and Yelena round the corner, straight towards a squad car. Spider's bowel disrupter knocks two cops out, when Detective Newton arrives, holding a gun to Spider's head. She relents, telling Spider to go home and write his article. He does so, but soon Royce calls to let him know of the White House's new invention: a D-Notice that shelves articles deemed too dangerous for local or national security. Spider has been silenced by the President, and he warns his assistants to go out the next day and buy weapons.

(TPB 6: Gouge Away)
*Issue 31 - Nobody Loves Me. Spider is on the crazy side, after downing many drugs to make himself forget about the D-Notice. He turns on the TV to find out that the anime series based on him, Magical Truthsaying Bastard Spidey, was created. He then flips to Amfeed Action, where a biopic on his life is playing. Depressed beyond relief, Spider places his bowel disrupter in his mouth, and prepares to fire. Fortunately, Channon had set a subroutine in case this happened, and the TV automatically switches to pornography. Today's feature showing is "I Hump It Here," with the lead character of Spider Juicerram, Outlaw Sex Reporter. Spider takes some drugs and passes out in an attempt to forget the day, and his dreams of revenge turn into a nightmare of the New Scum.

Issue 32 - The Walk. Spider takes another one of his infamous City walks, this time frustrated into having been turned into a media icon. While eating at a cafe, he's reminded of The Hole, a cheap pirate feedsite. He "leaks" his D-Notice article to The Hole, and the whole City takes note of it. Spider eventually spends hours getting interviewed regarding the column and the D-Notice itself. The issue ends with a quote by H.L. Mencken.

&Issue 33 - Dancing In the Here and Now. Channon and Yelena steal Spider's credit cards and go out for a day of drinking and shopping. When Yelena lights up, Channon remarks on how she's becomming more and more like Spider, which Yelena immediately denies. Their first stop is a clothing store, and then to a gun store where both assistants buy weapons. Back on the street, they have to defend themselves by genuine Men In Black. Finally, the two sit and relax in the park, where they reflect on their jobs and how they're Marked For Death By the President. "They love my ass." - Spider Jerusalem

&Issue 34 - Gouge Away Part 1 of 3. Spider begins his quest to take down the President, starting with getting some supplies (G-Sanitize, ID Trashcan, and what turns out to be two pistols). His first visit? Kristin, who now owns a bar. The money she used to buy the bar was made gambling, over whether or not any political staff involved in the Presidential campaign would be assassinated. He then visits a church home to a Right Love (for the legalization of sex with minors) cell, which Alan Schact frequented. "I'm nobody's fucking cartoon." - Spider Jerusalem

&Issue 35 - Gouge Away Part 2 of 3. Spider continues his journalistic rampage, assaulting the home of Fred Christ's church in search of records and recordings. His next stop is the Farsight community, where he uses future technology to clone himself in California, so that he can talk to Gary Callahan's family, who have been locked in California ever since he went on campaign. Spider then meets with one of the Lockwood suspects, as well as Lindsay Bishop a pimp who works at the hotel that Callahan stayed at during the Opposition Party Convention. His article finished, Spider beams it to Royce, who has two minutes before press time, and no time to get White House approval.

&Issue 36 - Gouge Away Part 3 of 3. Spider Jerusalem's column acts like an atom bomb on DC. The press latches onto Spider's story, and Lindsay publicly admits to supplying Callahan with Transient prostitutes during the convention. Alan Schact commits suicide and burns his apartment down ("One down, Vita."). Spider, knowing what's to come next, empties his bank account and warns the filthy assistants to get packing. Royce gets summoned by the Word Board of Directors. On the street, Kristin and her goons get gunned down. Royce calls Spider to give him news he already knew was coming; he's been fired from The Word. Spider et. Assistants evacuate the apartment, causing CPD to miss them, but not a virus explosion set off by the maker. The gang flees to unknown parts.

(TPB 7: Spider's Thrash)
@Issue 37 - Back to Basics Part 1 of 3. The press is all over the dissapearance of Spider Jerusalem, as he and his filthy assistants are in hiding. Meanwhile, Lindsay Bishop gets killed in an alley, and erased with ID Trashcan. Spider, Channon, and Yelena meet at a diner with John Nkrumah and Lau Qi, the two people who run The Hole. Spider offers his services for free, and Lau instantly accepts, despite John's hesitation. They go to a bar to celebrate and Spider relieves himself. When he leaves the bathroom, there's a gun to his head.

Issue 38 - Back to Basics Part 2 of 3. In a deft desplay of gunfighting, Spider takes out all three of his would-be assassins, and erases them with ID Trashcan ("The Smiler says hello."). Spider talks to John and gets him onboard. He and the filthy assistants go to a hotel, where Spider and Yelena talk. Spider takes a walk, and we learn that Yelena is writing again. "And so, freed, I start to write." - Spider Jerusalem

Issue 39 - Back to Basics Part 3 of 3. Robert McX (another reporter), Royce, and the rest of The City learns of Spider's transition to columnist for The Hole, as does the President. Spider's new revelations cause Fred Christ to get arrested for his role in supplying Transient prostitutes to the President. During all of this, we see Spider in the bathroom, as he gets a sudden nosebleed. It stops eventually, and over coffee Spider announces his intentions: to bring down the Presidency.

*Issue 40 - Business. In one of the darkest issues of Transmetropolitan, Spider Jerusalem talks to several child prostitutes, and learns their histories, as well as why they do what they do. He also talks to Bill Rose, a man who runs a foster home from which many of these children come from. Warning: this issue is VERY depressing, but very well-done.

Issue 41 - There Is A Reason. Spider interviews many mentally insane residents of The City. What he's looking for isn't apparent until later in the issue, when Spider shows a crazy person a picture, and gets an answer in response. The picture was of Alan Schact, which proves that Alan hired a Revival to assassinate Vita Severn.

*Issue 42 - Spider's Thrash. More City retrospective by Spider, as we've come to expect but can't get enough of. He seems to realize that time is running out, and begins to dictate a message to Channon and Yelena, telling them what they should do if he dies too quickly. The issue ends with Callahan at his desk, snapping the legs off of a spider with a pen.

(TPB 8: Dirge)
Issue 43 - Dirge Part 1 of 3. As morning dawns on the City, so does a severe weather warning. Suddenly a sniper opens fire from the rooftops in the Print District, killing several. Spider obtains a taxi for him and his assistants, and they head towards the district even as it's being evacuated. When CPD sends in one helicopter that gets destroyed, Spider suspects Blue Flu, an occasion where a vast majority of police officers don't report to work due to alleged illness. As the skies darken, the group heads towards Dante Street to find the one person who may know more about the Flu.

Issue 44 - Dirge Part 2 of 3. Lau Qi connects Spider to Detective Newton, who agrees to meet Spider in person. There, Newton admits to it being a case of Blue Flu, saying that the Rank-and-File was strongly advised to stay home. The sniper continues to wreak havoc. Spider suddenly realizes that he's the only one in the Print District, there are no newspaper reporters or cops around, which means that something is happening. The rain intensifies, and Qi warns Spider to get off the street just as lighting starts coming down onto the City.

Issue 45 - Dirge Part 3 of 3. Spider, Yelena, and Channon watch the storm wreak havoc from the safety of a bar. Suddenly, a blast of lightning strikes too close, knocking Spider out. While Channon works on first aid, Yelena pulls out her laptop, and starts writing Spider's column. The President learns that since the Print District was evacuated, the press wasn't able to warn The City about the impending storm. As a result of the Blue Flu, no cops are around for emergency assistance.

Issue 46 - What I Know. The first few pages are in black and white, with Spider talking to himself, contemplating whether or not he's dead, mentally playing out the events that lead to this. When he finally wakes up, he's in a white bed, surrounded by his assistants and a doctor, the latter of whom breaks some sad news. Spider has I-Pollen Degenerative Disorder, a disease he gained as a result of coming into contact with I-Pollen twice. In 98% of the cases, the disease will cause the victim to lose all motor and cognative skills. Spider finds out that they're at Yelenas' fathers' house, and Yelena tells Spider that she wrote his column. Spider gets out of bed and starts getting prepared to work, and when asked about his impending death, he can only reply with "So we've got a deadline. We can do deadlines."

Issue 47 - Wants His Face On the Dollar Bill. President Callahan declares The City a national disaster zone following the ruinstorm. Meanwhile, Oscar Rossini, Yelena's father, offers Spider his house as a new base of operations. As the trio takes a cab to the press conference, Callahan jokes with reporters ("If I can't handle some journalists, I don't deserve to be President") and renames the storm-torn area as the Vita Severn Disaster Area. When Spider arrives, he distributes evidence to reporters of Alan Schact's involvement in Vita Severn's slaying, and reveals that Secret Service agents use the same kind of blur suits that the Rooftop Sniper used. He and the President then trade words.

Issue 48 - Running Out. Spider and Channon reflect on their history, and Spider does some more reflecting on his own. Suddenly, Robert McX appears on the air, with tragic news. The archive of background information and evidence that all reporters save their information in was destroyed as a result of the superstorm. Despite the fact that all of his evidence is now gone, Spider vows to retrace his steps, when another story breaks: President Callahan's wife and kids have died in a car crash.

(TPB 9: The Cure)
Issue 49 - Here Comes the Sun. Channon wakes up, and then gets shocked awake when she sees that Spider is laying next to her in bed. Jerusalem and assistants then head to where the end is: the Vita Severn Memorial Federal Disaster Zone. While Yelena vents on this, Spider realizes that while the Disaster Zone covers a certain area, the actual disaster designation covers the entire City, which means that the City could go under martial law. Spider then educates his assistants on how the City votes for presidents, then votes against them in the next election. They arrive at their destination at last, beating up a few guards in the process. Spider then bursts into the back room and grabs Fred Christ by the neck. "Hello, Fred. This is our final conversation. It will be a good one."

Issue 50 - Happy Talk. The first few pages are Spider beating the ever-loving shit out of Fred Christ, in great detail. Finally, Spider pulls out his secret weapon ("Listen to the chair leg of truth! It does not lie!"). Finally, Fred reveals that his connection with Callahan started at the Angels 8 riot. Fred admits all of his wrong-doings, including the selling of Transient prostitutes to Callahan and how he knew of Vita Severn's death well in advance. Spider finally delivers the wrath of the Table Leg of Truth, promising Fred Christ that he will die as a result of his next column.

Issue 51 - Two-Fisted Editor. Editor Mitchell Royce starts bringing up several of his contacts, pulling favors, bribes, and blackmail to reach his objective. Through his contacts, Royce manages to get access to secret boardroom phone logs and private evidence stores. He eventually visits Spider, whom is now throwing frogs at the TV set. He then tosses Spider a CD containing as much of the archived evidence as could be recovered, along with proof that President Callahan caused Jerusalem to be fired from The Word.

Issue 52 - The Cure Part 1 of 3. Liesl Barclay, a call girl, gets high on space dust while watching Anthrax Cat battle the nefarious Osama bin Micen, until she's interrupted by Phil. She eventually leaves her apartment to go make a phone call, where she is found by Spider, Channon, and Yelena. We learn that Liesl is the only Transient prostitute connected to Callahan that is still alive, and that the only reason she hasn't been found is because nobody has used a G-Reader on her. They return to her apartment, only to find Phil dead and two Secret Service agents waiting in blur suits. Spider surprises one agent by blowing him away with a real gun ("The last thing anyone briefed on me would expect is a real gun!"), while Yelena takes out the other. The four drive away to the Spider-Cave, aka Yelena's father's residence.

Issue 53 - The Cure Part 2 of 3. The group changes plans and decides to go to Lau Qi's residence, surprising her in her apartment. Spider then interviews Liesl, discussing her life as a call-girl and why she took the cure (changing herself back from transient to human.) Liesl then reveals that she has on her person the dress that she wore when she was with The Smiler (ironically, it's blue). Spider immediately scans the dress with his G-Reader, and passes the device on to Qi for analysis, who confirms that the Smiler's genetic material is on the dress. Yelena and Channon go grocery shopping and observe the monitor fixed on the reclamation zone. As Liesl comes down from her high, she realizes what Spider said: all of her transient hooker friends have died, and she's probably next on the list. The issue ends with shady spec-ops people descending from helicopters.

Issue 54 - The Cure Part 3 of 3. Special troops descend into the Reclamation Zone, launching grenades and starting fires, causing residents to flee. Spider explains to Liesl what he's doing, and then talks to the filthy assistants, who have to navigate past some police cars. Meanwhile, Spider begins to write, and struggles to do so. When the filthy assistants arrive at Qi's apartment, they turn on the TV to find the Reclamation Zone in flames, and learn that the President is going to enforce Emergency Powers over The City, which means that he would essentially declare martial law, thus gaining control over everything including the feed. When Callahan starts accepting questions, Robert McX confronts him with his history with transient prostitutes.

(TPB 10: One More Time has been released, finally bringing Spider's saga to a close.)
Issue 55 - Headlong Part 1 of 3. With Spider's bombshell dropped right after Callahan started martial law in The City, the entire gang begins evacuation. Liesl, however, chooses to stay ("]I don't like you anymore. You got your story and stopped talking to me. You didn't have to treat me like a hooker.]). Spider faints as the four are leaving, and he gets into the shotgun seat as Channon takes the wheel. Liesl starts running, but a black car hits her, most likely killing her. Another black car persues the gang, but Spider pulls out his other gun and eliminates that threat. Finally, Spider gives Qi instructions as to a certain hidden file that he wants published immediately.

Issue 56 - Headlong Part 2 of 3. Martial law takes effect as troops take to the streets of The City. The foursome arrives at Oscar Rossini's house. Inside, they watch the TV as Judith Callahan, the Smiler's deceased wife, speaks (this, of course, is the interview Spider did when he was cloned). Spider's interview with Fred Christ also airs, as troops enter the SPKF building. Qi notes that feedsite access is being shut down slowly, and is suddenly alerted to a camera set up at Dick Cavett University, where student protestors are going face-to-face with the military. All feedsites suddenly stop carrying the camera feed, so the Hole starts broadcasting it. Suddenly, the students rush the troops, putting Transient Logo stickers printed from hand-held makers all over their helmets and clothes.

Issue 57 - Headlong Part 3 of 3. The soldiers suddenly open fire on the protestors, slaughtering them by the dozens. The Hole is the only feedsite broadcasting it, as everyone else is being occupied by soldiers. The press corps at the White House confront the Smiler's press liason with the footage. Mary Bannister calls Spider, and transmits pictures she's taken with her camera to his live shades through the phone line, before being confronted by soldiers ("She's a revival, man. No threat. They all have brain damage." "Fuck you, G.I."). The pictures show Alan Schact and a Secret Service agent talking to the Revival who asassinated Vita Severn. Oscar Rossini reflects on how the wheels are in motion to impeach The Smiler, and how Spider, Yelena, and Channon have to make sure they see it through. The trio escapes as soldiers show up at the front door.

Issue 58 - Straight to Hell. Robert McX is not broadcasting to The City for the first time, and dozens of other reporters are doing the same, with news that several lawsuits are being filed against The Smiler and that an inquiry of impeachment has been sent to the Judiciary Committee. As if in unison, all of the feedsite editors decide that NOW is the time to be journalists, as they all start broadcasting news of the revolution currently taking place. Soldiers fall under attack by rioting citizens, and when they try to go through Angels 8, Fred Christ stops them (in his redeeming moment), and then falls to a rain of bullets. The Smiler gets on a helicopter set to go to The City, and Spider et. filthy assistants wait on the rooftop for his arrival.

Issue 59 - The Long Day Closes. President Callahan's chopper arrives at Dante Street, and Spider Jerusalem goes into the building alone and without any weapons. Inside, the two trade words, but when Callahan pulls out his gun and claims that his Secret Service agents will back him up, the two agents leave ("You're worse than the last guy."), leaving Callahan and Jerusalem alone. It is here that Jerusalem reveals that Callahan has fallen for the first trick Jerusalem ever played on him: Spider is soaked in source gas, and the media gauntlet assembled outside has heard every word of the conversation. As Callahan attempts to kill Spider himself, he is knocked out and arrested by Detective Newton. Spider Jerusalem collapses as his assistants run into the room.

Issue 60 - One More Time. The saga is over. The President is running out of money, so he may yet be in front of a judge and jury. But what of Spider Jerusalem? In the finale to one of the greatest comic series of recent memory, Mitchell Royce pays his most famous employee a visit, at his home in the mountains. Yelena is prepared to leave for The City, as she's been signed to write an 8-week guest column. Channon is working on a 3-book deal, but insists that Yelena is the next Spider Jerusalem. Finally, we see Spider, tending to his garden. He can't type anymore, he forgets entire blocks of time, and he needs Channon to light his cigarettes. He and Royce exchange their final words, and everyone leaves, leaving Spider alone in the place where he's going to die. Or is he?

Some quotes from Transmet that stuck in my mind, with a mild case of commentary.

SPOILERS MAKE BABY JESUS CRY!


"I hate Nazi sex midgets."
-Channon Yarrow in Transmetropolitan #49, page 14

This seems to be a reference to the famous Blues Brothers quote, "Illinois Nazis ... I hate Illinois Nazis." The Nazi sex midgets in question are basically a three-panel gag; Channon picks one up by the collar and throws him down the sidewalk while talking to Spider and Yelena about their current situation(see the issue-by-issue writeup in the Transmetropolitan node for more). Mention of her dislike for them comes almost as an aside. My personal theory is that besides being an amusing joke, the Nazi sex midgets are a reminder of the forces that Spider and his filthy assistants are up against: totalitarian officials, much like the you-know-who. Channon's dismissively contemptuous demeanor also demonstrates the attitude of all three characters towards their opponents - her actions don't draw any comment from Spider or Yelena, who seem to assume that her actions and feelings on the matter are perfectly normal.


"Actual journalism? Is that where you don't
commit any crimes?"
"Hell no! It's when we commit really good crimes."
-Yelena Rossini and Spider Jerusalem in
Transmetropolitan #27, page 12

This quote is one of several times Ellis reminds us of the moral of the series' story in the guise of telling us about Spider's worldview. "The Truth is worth any price," the story tells us. This quote comes almost halfway through the series, in a standalone issue; it comes at an appropriate time to remind us of the point of the whole thing. Like many serious messages in the story, it's wrapped in a layer of humor. The issue that it appears in treats us to a satire of Bill Clinton's treatment by the US media over Monica Lewinsky. The Clinton stand-in is a senator accused of accepting bribes and engaging in sexual shenanigans, who endures similar travails down to questions about the shape of his penis and journalistic stalking. Along with the humor, though, we are reminded of the serious themes of the series: passion, corruption, the pursuit of truth, and human frailty.


"If the President does it, it's not a crime"
-Gary Callahan in Transmetropolitan #59, page 20
"If the President of the United States does it,
it can't be a crime."
-The Beast in Transmetropolitan #21, page 9

The reference to Richard Milhouse Nixon in these very similar quotes is obvious. The Beast, Callahan, and Nixon all believed themselves to be above the law. The actual Nixon quote is "When the president does it that means that it is not illegal," which he said in an interview with David Frost of the New York Times on May 19, 1977. While history is still in the process of deciding why Mr. Nixon did what he did, Transmetropolitan's story makes it clear to us why the Beast and Callahan act as they do. The contrast between Callahan and the Beast is central to the story's theme of corruption.

The Beast, a clearly Nixonian figure, is a cynic who believes in "getting through the day... in knowing your station... in living somewhere quiet." When accused of callousness he responds, not quite facetiously, "Life sucks. Wear a hat." For all that, when he delivers the Nixon line, he's joking, acknowledging his cynicism while brushing off an accusation from Spider. He is a keeper of the status quo, and recognizes that. Spider views him as an embodiment of the darker, more primitive impulses of the population, a view which we're led to support through the device of always seeing the Beast(who is further distanced from us by never being called by a name other than the label Spider stuck him with) associated with heavy shadows; indeed, when he tells Spider "Don't you call me a fucking liar just because the truth offends your wimpy goddamn sentiment," his face is almost entirely hidden by darkness, sending us a strong message about just what the truth is to the Beast. He's the face of corruption that needs little exposure; he is known to be a Bad Guy from issue #1 onwards.

Gary Callahan, who replaces the Beast as President during the course of the story, is a charismatic figure, obviously heavily based on Tony Blair and George W. Bush. Nicknamed "the Smiler," he is introduced to us as a senator and presidential candidate. We see a fair amount of his face before the issue in which Spider interviews him, at which point we rapidly get the impression that he's very damaged. His behavior ranges from robotic to magnetic to psychotic over the course of the series. For all that he talks a much more appealing talk than the Beast, he is the primary vehicle for the message of corruption in the series. Within a few issues of his first speaking appearance, we see him cutting a deal which guarantees his nomination to the candidacy of his party (the parties, underscoring the corruption theme, are referred to only as "the party in opposition" and "the party in government") at the expense of making under-the-table concessions to a fascist, Pat Buchanan-esque wing of his party. He expresses extreme contempt for the lower classes, and later, for the population in general. We learn that he has, in his career, given a speech that is an obvious clone of Richard Nixon's Checkers speech and the situation that prompted it, only darker. The meat of Transmet's story is Spider's struggle to bring him down first as a candidate, then as a President. Callahan delivers the Nixon line in dead earnest at the climax of the story, when we see him most clearly as someone who wants power strictly in order to abuse it. It is also significant that at that climax, we see Callahan shadowed just as the Beast was earlier.

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