Sunday, May 8, 2011
Words and story by Warren Ellis
Illustrations by Paul Duffield
Synopsis: 23 years ago, twelve strange children were born in England at exactly the same moment. 6 years ago the world ended. This is the story of what happened next.
It is hard for me to be an impartial reviewer here because I absolutely love the work of Warren Ellis. He creates the most fantastic troubled/messed up/insane characters caught up in the middle of the world gone mad and draws you in to a comic series that spans several hundred episodes. No one less than a true god has the ability to do such a thing. So yeah, impartiality will be missing from this review but I'm going to try and refrain from gushing for an entire blog post and instead give you all the information you need to go read this fantastic graphic novel series for yourself.
First reason you should read it? It's free. All of it. And I don't mean go down to you library and rent this beast of a series out, I mean head over to freakangels.com and begin at episode 1 and work your way up to episode 134 and hang around for the next 10 weeks or so as the last episodes are added each Friday. Every week Ellis, Duffield and their team scramble to get 6 pages out each Friday, and while there were a few gaps due to illness or conventions (not an issue if you're only beginning now!) for the most part they've delivered an intelligent, interesting and visually stunning graphic novel every week for over two years now.
I know 134 episodes sounds epic, and in terms of story hell yeah it is, but in terms of time? Not so much. I'd read the first 3 books (made up of about 20 or so episodes) previously but since I'm a little bit ill tonight and had no plans to move from my couch I sat down and read the remaining episodes in a little over 3 hours. You don't have to race through them like that obviously, but I often have trouble putting down graphic novels, especially those of the caliber that Ellis knocks out.
OK so I've told you how easy it is to read them for free and how little of your time they'll ultimately take up now to extol the virtues of the story of this amazing series. The twelve special children mentioned in the synopsis? Well they grew up to be 12 complete assholes, and you are thrown into the middle of the pile of mess that is their lives from the first page. Now don't get me wrong, they aren't unlikeable characters (well some are) but they are 23 year olds who were involved in ending the world at the age of 17, a little bit of arrogance, stupidity and immaturity is to be expected. They are all brilliant in their own ways but emotionally they are four year olds, and since they've basically been stuck with each other since birth they take it out on one another. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that they're real. I've seen bits of these characters displayed every day in my uni lectures and tutorials and working behind the counter at the supermarket or on the bus. They are completely flawed, but that makes them so interesting. You want to know if they can survive, ticking time-bombs that they are, and you want to know what they're going to do next.
The series is a unique take on dystopia and as well as igniting all of the questions and addressing all of the themes that dystopian fiction is expected to ignite and address it does so with heart. The characters are the core of this story and it is through them that you learn the most lessons. As is characteristic of Ellis the writing is sharp, witty and gets straight to the point and when married with the beautifully detailed and textured works of Paul Duffield they result in a firecracker of a series, destined to capture hearts and minds and keep you on the edge of your seat.