The Filth

Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: Chris Weston
Inker: Gary Erskine
A MorrWestErskCo, Ltd. Production

"Repeat after me, Mister Porneau: No one fucks with The Filth." -Miami Nil

The book

The Filth is a 13 issue series written by Grant Morrison. Published originally in 2002 by Vertigo, it was collected into one trade paperback released on May 5, 2004. The Filth markets itself as a "cooling, soothing relief from reality." The back cover appears as sales pitch, while the first three pages after the title page describe the proper usage of The Filth, side effects, and contraindications. Then the story begins.

The story (very minor spoilers)

"They're all mad out there, aren't they? You're lucky you don't have to go to work, son." - Greg Feely to Tony

Greg Feely is a normal, middle aged man who happens to be slightly perverted and lonely. His only friend is his cat, Tony, but he is relatively at peace with himself until a woman addresses himself as Slade, and tells him, "Don't mess with The Filth". As it turns out, Greg is only a parapersonality for Ned Slade, agent of The Filth. Ned was on vacation from himself, and being Greg for a while was a relaxing way to forget who he is. Miami Nil, his partner at The Filth appears to let him know that his vacation has been cut short, and Greg Feely is removed from Ned Slade.

A replacement Greg is put in place to keep his life going while Ned is on duty, but the removal of the parapersonality appears to be incomplete, as Ned continues to be confused by the existence of The Filth, and still cares for Tony. Ned/Greg suffers an identity crisis as Ned is unable to forget about living as Greg, even as Greg's life falls to pieces, and meets trouble with the law. Along with Ned, there are such things as a communist sniper chimpanzee, giant killer sperm, nano life, a male president with breasts, and much more. It's bloody confusing the first time through, but it's such a good romp that you'll want to read it again to catch all of the details.

The organization (spoiler-free)

"Am I in the future? Or in Virtual Reality? Am I in a State ward, wanking in front of relatives?"
"You wish. Think of it like you just got swept under the sidewalk of everything you ever knew. That's all."
"Right. How far under the sidewalk?" - Ned Slade & Miami Nil

The Filth exists as a paranormal clean-up squad, much like the Men in Black. However, The Filth deals with all manner of paranormality, rather than just aliens. They wear garishly colored hyper-sexualized fetish suits, and drive disposal vehicles that resemble garbage trucks with giant teeth where the back end should be. The Filth enforces "Status: Q". They enforce it "by removing and safely destroying all that is not Status: Q." This is accomplished by the five branches of The Filth, each with pentagonal shield emblem, sporting a hand:

  • The Hand "has jurisdiction over all earthly agencies." The hand is responsible for moving governments and law enforcement about to better allow The Filth to operate. Its emblem is a blue hand, open, with palm facing outward.
  • The Frequency specializes in the "Mercurial Arts." That is, the art of surveillance and persuasion. Its emblem is a yellow hand, with three fingers extended, and the thumb and pinky closed on the palm.
  • The officers of The Fist specialize in martial arts, strategy, war, and assassination. The Fist's emblem is a red hand, closed into a fist.
  • The Finger studies and exploits the Venereal Arts. "Here, desire and shame are explored and policed by the planet's vice squad." Its emblem is a green hand, flipping the bird.
  • The Horns deal with negative emotions, "murder, hatred, darkness, fear and alienation." They are not often mentioned. This branch's emblem is a purple hand with index and pinky fingers extended.
Travelling through dimensions and well past sanity, The Filth polices anything unnatural, and makes sure it doesn't come in contact with you or me.

Source: The Filth trade paperback. Copyright Grant Morrison, et al.

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