Speech Bubble Burst

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Speech Bubble Burst adopts a science-fiction tone this week, as I look at two contrasting titles, one a fairly obscure new title produced by people you've probably never heard of, the other the magnum opus of one of the comics industry's most high-profile creators. So, for your attention: The Ochlocrat and Transmetropolitan.

The Ochlocrat

  • Published by Comics Conspiracy, written by Doug Miers and illustrated by Gerry Alanguilan.
  • £2.10 / $2.95

This is a very funny book indeed. And by 'funny', I mean both 'funny peculiar' and 'funny ha-ha'. It is a one-off high-concept science-fiction story, revolving around the central character, The Ochlocrat.

'Ochlocracy' is, according to the dictionary, quite simply 'mob rule'. So how is mob rule represented by an individual? Easy - he's a type of vigilante enforcer, motivated by the constantly changing public opinion that is relayed to him. He takes action as dictated by the whimsy of the majority, which results in him switching roles from an exposer of corruption to an amorous seducer in the brief time it takes for a phone vote to be counted. This being the future, presumably phone votes (or their equivalent) take very little time indeed.

In our current climate of 'Reality TV', of Big Brother and Survivor, the idea of the general populace voting on the actions of a state-sanctioned vigilante is all too plausible. Raising as many serious questions as genuine laughs, the writing is extremely thought-provoking.

The art is detailed and extremely fine black and white inkwork, and is of especially high quality when rendering vehicles and the grim urban surroundings the story takes place in. Gerry Alanguilan is clearly going to be a name to watch - his grasp of perspective is excellent - but his figure drawing and facial expressions are not quite so impressive. It would probably have been beneficial if his pencilwork had been inked by someone else, as it is a little heavy-handed in places.

However, it is an interesting comic, and worth checking out, if only for the posse of heavily-armed attack lawyers and the gags about adult viewers.


  • Published by DC Vertigo, written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Darick Robertson and Rodney Ramos.

Starting with the first book in this sizeable series, Back On The Street, the reader is drawn into the hilarious futuristic misadventures of substance-fuelled vitriol-spouting journalist Spider Jerusalem, a kind of science-fiction version of that notorious scribe Hunter S Thompson.

Spider is dragged from wilderness seclusion back to the City, a teeming future metropolis that drips with sleaze, in order to honour a book contract. He drifts back into his old journalistic routine, and soon finds himself the lone voice of dissent and the sole exposer of the sordid goings-on that plague the City and its leaders, reaching as far up as the President himself...

Every page of Transmet is crammed with violently funny obscenity and scathing wit, and there is a real sense of outrage at injustice, hypocrisy and corruption in Warren Ellis' bile-filled script. Darick Robertson's clear and expressive art adds to the humour, but provides shocking 'bite' when necessary.

The first collected story, Back On The Street, is reasonably priced, although by no means the best of the books collected thus far. Great characters and touches appearing later in the series are such crazy things as Spider's trusty 'bowel disruptor', a handgun capable of inducing potentially fatal diarrhoea in its target, 'Air Christ' shoes and the luckless police dog called Stomponato. Absolutely hilarious stuff, and a darned fine read for anyone who takes their humour black and likes their jokes dirty.

What To Look Out For This Week:

DC Comics

  • Farscape: War Torn #1 - a comics adaptation of the popular sci-fi TV show


  • Alias #6 - a new storyline for this gritty crime comic set in the Marvel universe

Other Comics

  • Colonia: Islands And Anomalies Vol 1 - surreal stuff mixing fantasy with horror, adventure and men made entirely of fish


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