The iFanboy Letter Column – 06/26/2009

Friday means many things to many people. For some, Friday means it’s time to really give some thought to how much food you can eat in one 48 hour period without moving. For others, Friday means it’s finding out who’s holdin’.

At iFanboy, Friday means it’s letter column time.

You write. We answer. Very simple.

As always, if you want to have your e-mail read on the any of our shows or answered here, keep them coming — contact@ifanboy.com

 


I’m on a huge Warren Ellis kick. I picked up Ocean and Red when they came out the other week as, hey, why the fuck not? So, with those demolished I’ve started reading Transmetropolitan again, and it’s just so very delicious.

Basically, I’m asking what is the next Ellis series that’s worth my time? I have that Fell trade to read again, but after that I’m out. Is this Planetary thing worth a go?

Ben

If you’re on a big Warren Ellis kick then the good news is that there’s a lot of good stuff out there to read. The bad news is that Ellis’ best book — by a wide margin — is Transmetropolitan, so you’ve got nowhere to go but down. But that’s a nice problem to have, because there will be a lot of great reads along the way.

For my money, Warren Ellis’ golden period was the late 1990s to early 2000s when he had three terrific books out just about simultaneously — Transmetropolitan, The Authority, and Planetary.

Let’s start with the book you mentioned, Planetary. I came into this one late, around issue 9 or 10. I remember very distinctly being in Jim Hanley’s Universe and picking up the newest issue and opening it up to John Cassaday’s big, beautiful panels and being blown away. So if you can stomach the fact that the final issue has been delayed for… I dunno, it’s been many years (the final issue is apparently finished, but I have no idea why we haven’t seen it yet) then definitely check this book out. It’s Ellis doing his deconstructionist best on traditional superhero and genre tropes. There are 26 issues of that series. Perhaps one day there will be 27.

The other big book from that time period was The Authority, of which Ellis wrote #1-12, with art from Bryan Hitch. This book was all about Warren Ellis playing with the superhero as benevolent (mostly) fascist concept and perfecting his much vaunted (or much reviled, depending on who you are) widescreen style. It was a hell of a lot of fun.

Those should hold you for now. Warren Ellis has done a lot of other really great books, but these are my favorite, and the ones that I think are his best.

Conor Kilpatrick

 


I had never read Hellblazer until recently and for some reason I picked up the trade Hellblazer: Highwater by Brian Azzarello and loved it. I then went back and read his entire run and after that I wasn’t sure what to get so I watched your iFanboy Mini about Hellblazer and saw you recommend Garth Ennis’s run so I picked that up. Thought that was brilliant!! Now I’m not sure what else to pick up in the series? What trades and runs on the series would you recommend? And which trades and runs would you not recommend?

Cian

I’m playing to stereotype here, aren’t I? Actually, is that still a stereotype of me? Are we past the Vertigo thing, since I’m only reading a few Vertigo books these days? Oh well.

One thing I am enjoying from Vertigo is definitely still Hellblazer. The good news for you is that there is plenty of John Constantine left to be had. To continue the above theme, a single volume that’s one of my favorites is Haunted, by Warren Ellis, which has a lot to do with ghosts as the title might suggest. One of the more fascinating things about Hellblazer is that each of the creators has really come with a different take on the character, and the style of stories they tell. The stories by Jamie Delano were very different from those by Garth Ennis, and the Warren Ellis stories really surprised me in how elegant they were. Unfortunately, it also seems to currently be out of print.

There’s also Mike Carey’s long run, which was also an entirely different thing. These were my formative Hellblazer issues, the ones in which I got to know the character, so it’s hard to compare them to prior stories, but I liked them enough to keep reading for sure. You’d be remiss to skip Andy Diggle’s recent run. It’s ties very heavily into the stuff that Ennis did, but also exists well on its own, if such a thing is possible. Tonally, it’s a fantastic portrayal of John Constantine, and every issue brought a smile to my face. And while you’re at it, the last few months of Pete Milligan have been stellar, really exploring what John is, whether he’s a scumbag or some kind of of heroic figure, and what that means to him. I’m very excited to see where it goes.

Josh Flanagan

 

Comments

  1. Hmmm I might have to check out those Warren Ellis books. They look pretty good.

  2. Also, all should read the Millar/quitely trades, the are awesome.

  3. Absolutely second the Ellis/Hitch run on Authority. That was hilarious and entertaining. Like good Hollywood Popcorn flicks in comics.

    Millar/Quitely was also pretty good.

     Still have to pick up any Hellblazer, but got too many trades lately and have to finish all of those first. 🙂 

  4. Jeff Reid (@JeffRReid) says:

    Warren Ellis also wrote a novel, CROOKED LITTLE VEIN, that I’m currently listening to.  It’s dark humor at its blackest, but I’m enjoying it.  There are relatively few Ellis comics that I’ve read, so I’m not sure how it compares to those.  Check it out if you’re looking for a novel.

  5. I believe Wildstorm confirmed the final Planetary issue for an October release. Ellis and them have been teasing final art every once in a while since April I think. I’d said that that first 8 issue trade of FELL is worth picking up, as well. Each issue is a different story but together, int hat trade, it is all put together into this one, amazing book.

    I think my favorite Hellblazer stuff was Mike Carey’s ridiculous run, though it’s been a long while since I’ve reread any of the older Hellblazer trades. Milligan’s been alright, but I do not really like the art now. I really miss Leonardo manco (Who did the art for a lot of Mike Carey’s run i think as well). Diggle was great all the way through, ESPECIALLY that two issue story where there si that room in that vatican where sin does not exist.Dangerous habits is a really great Ennis trade, but I didn;t much like the other stories Ennis wrote for him.

     

  6. @sgrsickness: He’s already read FELL.

  7. @conor: haha. He has, I only noticed Ocean and Red. oops :3

  8. For a different kind of Warren Ellis pick up Nextwave. I’ve never had more fun with a book. Also if you’re a history buff pick up Crecy.

     I will continue whining of how much of a shame it is that Paul Jenkins/Sean Phillips run on Hellblazer has never been traded. I wait for that day with glee. 

  9. I would very much love to read that.

  10. Re:  Warren Ellis – Nextwave is an action packed farce sorta kinda set in the Marvel Universe.  Ministry of Space is an alternate history where the UK won the space race.  Switchblade Honey – Ellis’ cynical take on Star Trek.  All very good.  All worth reading.

     

  11. I read the Black Flowers Mike Carey trade of Hellblaizer and if that’s the level of quality his run stays at I’ll never pick up a trade of his again. The stories werre boring and not incredibly original. He did however have 2 other fantastic artist on the book as well as Marcelo Frusin(who is good, just not mind0blowing). Jock did great art on a fairly standard chase through london one shot (that had story telling issues that as times had me confused as fuck. Nothing to do with Jock’s art, but the way Carey wrote it). TThen Bermejelo did FANTASTIC art on a slightly more fun but mediocre story involving people posessed by ancient scots. Buy it for the art but nothing else

  12. i also have a ellis kick now after reading the thunder bolts then picking up all of planetary which i loved. but for some reason i hated trans. never heard of ocean or red but interested

  13. oh desilation jones is a good ellis book too

  14. Agree wiht MeanOldPig, Crecy, former POW, is must read Ellis.  The best of his indie one shots.  For Hellblazer, I’d also recommend expanding beyond the series and checking out Constantine’s debut in Swamp Thing.  Moore’s take on the character he created is interesting and does not exactly line up with who the character became.  

  15. Desolation Jones has some killer J.H. Williams art.

  16. Check out Lazarus Churchyard by Ellis and some British dude. Good fun, "cyberpunk", har. Image released a reissued trade some 8 years ago.

  17. Re; Warren Ellis: I just read the first Anna Mercury series and thought it was a lot of fun. I’m also really enjoying (the currently being published) Ignition City story. His arc on iron man is probably my favorite iron man story in 20 years. And if you want something REALLY twisted, check out his novel, Crooked Little Vein. I called out of work to read that in an afternoon. So great. 

  18. If you want to try something from Warren Ellis in the gritty crime fashion, I’d recommend a book I haven’t heard talked of all that much, "Scars". It’s an OGN so you get the whole thing in one volume, which is nice sometimes. Also, going a little different it’s not a comic book, but Ellis wrote a pretty good prose book with "Crooked Little Vein" that I’d recommend if you feel like venturing outside the comics medium to follow the creator. It’s also a crime story in a sense that focuses around a private detective or sorts.

  19. Hey check out Ellis’ freakangels webcomic. It’s semi weekly and free!

  20. In addition to the books suggested by Conor and the other users here, I’ve gotta recommend FREAKANGELS and IGNITION CITY. 

    FREAKANGELS is a web comic that gets traded for a good price every few issues, and is absolutely great. I read it in trade so I’m a bit behind but you could go through and read all of them in webcomic form if need be. It’s definitely worth a shot, especially considering it’s free.

    IGNITION CITY is young, but it’s excellent thus far. It’s pretty much Ellis’ love letter to Buck Rogers and space stories like that. I’m not even that big of a space guy, but I love it dearly. If nothing else, the art is some of the best coming out today.

    I also enjoy DOKTOR SLEEPLESS, but not near the level of the aforementioned two.

    Great article.

  21. I believe that Hellblazer was the first Ennis/Dillon collaboration.  Personally, I have enjoyed their Hellblazer much more than Preacher. ( the premise for the angel/demon hybrid was a revamping of an awesome Hellblazer ark).

    Sadly, I found the Jenkins run unreadable (maybe I should revisit it), much in the way Swamp Thing was after Moore…. utterly forgetable.

  22. And Warren Ellis:  I agree, SCARS was an awesome engrossing crime/cop drama.  And Jacen Burrows!

  23. For good Ellis I recommend the current NO HERO from Avatar. Also BLACK SUMMER from Avatar.

  24. Ellis’s work on THUNDERBOLTS from Marvel was also great.

  25. People give shit about Ellis’s run on Thunderbolts. While everyone is intitled to hate on it; I dont see where the hate is coming from. I thought, although it was released very late at times (which is good enough reason to be annoyed by it), it was one of the most fun reads in a Marvel title. Considering what Thunderbolts is now, Ellis’s run looks like a masterpeice. Even if I hate Norman Osborn now, having Ellis make him go batshit crazy was fantastic.

    Oh and Crecy is definitely a must buy.

  26. man, i loved those warren ellis comics. that’s was a really enjoyable period in comics

  27. Thunderbolts by Ellis is amazing too.

  28. I’ve been really digging Doktor Sleepless by Ellis, but as with everything he does, it seems to be stuck in a rut, and I haven’t seen a new issue for a while.

     

    Diggle’s Hellblazer run was fantastic, don’t miss it! 

  29. RE Ellis

     Read Nextwave, Thunderbolts, and his arc on Iron Man.

  30. @sgrsickness THANK YOU!!!!  Nobody ever talks about Jenkins.  That was an excellent run and helped explain a lot of the stuff Delano and Ennis hadn’t covered yet. 

    Re: Ellis I may have missed it, but did anybody mention Black Summer printed by Avatar?  Awesome book and very contentious when it came out.  No Hero is the same team-up of writer and artist.  If you haven’t read it Conor, I would highly recommend it, even though I’m probably in the doghouse with you, permanently…

  31. I think everyone should perpetually be on a Warren Ellis kick.

  32. Hooray! I got my question answered, cheers Josh.

     I picked up the first two Authority trades, as well as the first Planetary trade on the weekend, I look forward to checking them out. Thanks for the tips about others, I’m quietly waiting for Ignition City to hit trade as well, that looks interesting indeed.

     Thunderbolts intrigues me too, it would help to flesh out my Marvel section too. 🙂

  33. Planetary is awesome. It’s very mysterious and great look at a lot of fiction intertwined but it’s also very sweet at times. The sad thing is I think only three trades have been released, though they could have done a fourth at least, but hey things fall off trucks every now and then. Nextwave is hilarious, fleshy one. New Universal is a pretty cool little story about an alternate earth where 4 ordinary people get super powers with some nice painted panels by Salvador Larroca. It’s meant to continue…but then real life intervened.

  34. another huge vote for http://www.freakangels.com/

  35. I know it is not Ellis but since Hellblazer runs were mentioned the Garth Ennis run called Son of Man issues 129-133 are some of the best Constantine ever written.  You just cant beat Ennis!!!

  36. In his question, he says he read the Ennis Hellblazer.