Thursday, May 21, 2015

Half a Global Frequency is Better Than None

Global Frequency: Planet Ablaze: written by Warren Ellis; illustrated by Garry Leach, Glenn Fabry, Steve Dillon, Roy Martinez, John J Muth, David Lloyd, and David Barron (2002-2003/ This edition 2004): This collection of the first half of writer Warren Ellis' early-oughts 12-issue miniseries gives us six different artists and the most TV-friendly of all of Ellis' comic-book projects. Indeed, Global Frequency did get a TV pilot made, though it wasn't picked up for series. That's a shame because it's a solid take on a solid, much-used concept in TV. In a way, this is Mission: Impossible for the post-industrial, post-governmental, Internet age.

And the artists are all boss. Global Frequency (the agency) employs 1001 agents across the globe, though they're really more heavily compensated consultants than actual employees. Global Frequency (the agency) is sponsored by the G-8 countries (among other sources named or implied) but run independently by a mysterious woman. Global Frequency (the comic book) shows us six missions, rendered by six great artists.

Held together by phone and Internet, members of the team await the call to either consult on a problem or to jump into the fray. They're 1001 experts in thousands of fields, from parkour (no kidding) to quantum physics to assassination. The crises they face arise from both intent and neglect -- forgotten and now-malfunctioning Cold-War super-weapons can represent as great a threat to the world as crazed death-cultists, insane bionic men, or an invading meme from outer space.

It's all fast-paced and breezy, almost Warren Ellis-lite in terms of characterization and plot density. Done right, it would have made a hell of a TV series. As a comic-book series, it's still a lot of fun. Going with different artists each issue increases that fun, whether it's Preacher's Steve Dillon, V for Vendetta's David Lloyd, or the normally painterly Jon J Muth doing something a lot more sketchy. Recommended.

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