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First thing first, I decided to move these posts to Mondays and adjust the naming scheme to put the comic in question in the title of the post.

This week we’re going to ditch the superheroes, because, of course, comic books are about more than just superheroes and the non-superhero oriented ones deserve to get turned into movies just as much (if not more so) than the superhero ones. So, this week I want to take a look at Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson‘s Transmetropolitan.Rob turned me on to the writing of Warren Ellis late last summer, pointing me at Ellis’ website, then encouraging me to start reading the Transmetropolitan TPBs. I picked up the first few, flew through them and in just a few weeks had the stack of all 11 books and had read through them. Then, I read them again. A few weeks later? I read through them again. About a month ago? I read them again. Something I will re-read that often is pretty unusual to find. Hell, finding things I’ll bother to finish, much less re-read is pretty unusual. I would continue on about Warren Ellis, but a) that’s not really the purpose of this post and b) Wil Wheaton reached into my mind on Friday and said pretty much exactly what I would want to say.

I’m a bit conflicted on the idea of a movie version of Transmetropolitan. Part of me really really wants a movie, and part of me thinks there is no way to make it a movie without it being crap, or at least seeming like crap because it doesn’t live up to the source material. So, let’s start with what we ended with in our previous posts: the plot.

The Plot
First, trying to cram the entire 60 issue run (which is more or less a continuous story) into a 2 hour movie would be a mistake. So, I would propose that we take the first and second stories (the introductory stuff plus the Angels 8 riot and meeting The Beast) and the delightful “Freeze Me With Your Kiss” story and mix them up a bit. “Hold on a minute Sean?” you say. “I haven’t read those, and even if I had, what the fuck are you saying? How could that work? You are insane and/or an idiot!” you say. See, the way I see it with comic book adaptations we need to keep in mind the word “adaptation.” In a movie we don’t get nearly as much time to develop and really get into characters as we can in comics, so we have to kind of mash stuff together and reorganize when we want to see a comic book movie. Tak the Spider-Man movies as an example, they aren’t exactly like the comic books, they take different elements from different stories and smoosh them together in a way that makes at least a little bit of sense.

We begin with a woman yelling at a man and storming out of what we can only assume is their apartment. The man, who we quickly figure out is our “hero,” Spider Jerusalem, sits down at a laptop and begins typing. The screen starts to fill with email notifications and instant messages. Spider’s fans. The phone starts ringing, it becomes apparent that it will be impossible for Spider to get anything done in this atmosphere.

Then, we jump ahead 5 years. Spider is hairy and naked and living in a cabin on a mountain. He gets a call from his book publisher, he still owes them two more books, Spider has to go back down the mountain and into The City. Back in The City Spider needs a job as a Journalist, so he goes to find his friend Mitch Royce, at The Word. Royce is now City Editor and Spider manages to convince Royce to give him a column, journalist’s insurance, and a place to live.

Spider settles into the crappy apartment given to him by The Word. He finds a stray two headed cat and ends up having all the hair on his body removed through an incident with a shower. Spider decides to interview old acquaintance Fred Christ, now leader of the Transient movement. Spider violently makes his way into the Angels 8 district and has a brief combative interview with Christ. The next day while trying to justify why an interview with media hungry Christ would make a good column we see on the news that Angels 8 has broken into a very violent riot with the police on their way to end it.

Spider hauls ass down to Angels 8, talks his way onto the roof of a strip club and he and the strippers watch the riot from above. During the riot we get introduced (if only briefly) to a one-eyed, talking, dickless dog named Stompanato (how is that not the greatest character idea ever?) who has a particular grudge against Spider. Spider is the only person reporting on the riot from the inside and Royce gets it broadcast all over The City, this helps end the riot and makes Spider famous again, exactly what he didn’t want.

Weeks later Spider is on the phone with Royce, in a new snazzier apartment, Royce tells him to expect an assistant to come by and that she’ll be living with him and keeping an eye on him. The doorbell rings and Spider opens the door stark naked with his Bowel Disruptor (guess what that does) trained on his new assistant. We are introduced to Channon Yarrow, a stripper who was on the roof with Spider at Angels 8, and Spider’s new assistant.

After some introductions Spider and Channon head down to a convention hall where the President, known to all by the unflattering nickname: The Beast, is addressing a group of supporters. Spider and Channon sneak in and Spider and The Beast have a little confrontation in the bathroom that ends with The Beast shitting himself (that’s what the Bowel Disruptor does).

Another few weeks later Channon is out and Spider fields a call from a cryo facility regarding his ex-wife, who had herself frozen until there was definitive proof Spider was dead. She has been stolen from the facility. Spider dismisses the news and then fields another call from Royce who starts telling Spider about a death threat Spider just received at Royce’s office, signed by 500 people. Spider is dismissive of this as well when there is a knock at the door and he is attacked. He manages to protect himself and kill his attackers. While on the phone with the police he discovers his Journalist’s Insurance has been revoked and then the phone goes dead.

Spider leaves his apartment before the police can arrive. The first officer on the scene is Stompanato. He goes off to try to track down Spider more to satisfy his own grudge than than because Spider needs to be taken in for questioning, since, according to the records the police have he was uninsured when he was attacked and killed his attackers. Meanwhile, Royce tries to figure out what’s going on while trying to keep a headless child claiming to be Spider’s long lost kid calm. Channon arrives back at the apartment only to find Spider missing and a bunch of bodies. She heads out in search of Spider.

Royce discovers that it was his secretary that canceled Spider’s insurance and helped the would be assassins get to him. Royce’s secretary had been an Assistant of Spider’s who got screwed. Stompanato makes his way across The City in search of Spider but is continually attacked, rendering him more or less blind. Parallel to Stompanato is Channon also trying to track Spider down. Royce gets Spider reconnected, but not before Spider is confronted by a group who believe in “Zero Tactility.” They wear what look like bio-hazard suits and refuse to have any kind of physical contact with the other human beings or the environment in general. They explain to him that his ex-wife showed up at their compound started yelling at everyone, specifically sharing her name, then grabbed one, stripped off his mask and shoved her tongue down his throat. Through Flashback we can now see that this is the same woman as we saw in the beginning of the movie. Spider is taken by the “Zero Tactility” guys down to the river, they were the ones who stole his wife’s frozen head in the hopes it would draw him to them so they could execute him for her infraction. Spider instead chucks his wife’s head into the river. Stompanato has caught up with Spider at this point and leaps at him being blind he misses and lands in the river. Channon catches up to them as well, immediately assuming the “Zero Tactility” guys kidnapped Spider kicks the crap out of them all. Problems solved. Back at Royce’s office Spider arrives demanding to know what the hell happened. He is then attacked by the headless child, whom he tosses out the window, it explodes outside. We get an explanation that it is a French Secret Service Assassination device that he thought he’d destroyed years ago. The last scene is Spider sitting in front of a computer trying to write a column as he is bombarded by emails and instant messages and phone calls.

Okay, so that might be a bit long, it perhaps requires a bit more mashing together and squeezing and stroking, etc. Still, more or less that is what I would go for.

This post has gotten a touch long, so come back tomorrow for Part 2, and I’ll share how I’d cast a Transmetropolitan movie.



  1. damn you … and your comic-book-reading ways … I just used an example from “The Fantastic Four” to explain a concept to one of my students …

    “It’s clobbering time!”

  2. No … no … you’ve got it all wrong! The phrase is “It’s clobberin’ time!” No “g” … ‘Nuff Said

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  1. […] Book Movies I’d Like to See: Transmetropolitan, Part 2 10 04 2007 Okay, yesterday we covered the plot and other basics for the Transmetropolitan movie I’d like to see. Today, […]

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