Control the Vertical

It’s a sad fact in every comic-book reader’s life, that we all get jaded by the genre now and then. Plots get repetitive, art seems more and more slap-dash, writers run out of good ideas and then want to inflict everything they see as wrong with the world upon the poor reader, who wants nothing more than something entertaining or thought-provoking.

But then, something will come along to remind said reader how much fun comics can be. Something exciting, with good ideas carried out well by both author and artist. Something funny and with a sense of pace that makes you think, “God! I’d love to see that on the big/small screen”. The author Lil Shepherd gave one of the best definitions of a comic-book when she said that it was the transition between the printed word and the moving image. Global Frequency by Warren Ellis/Various hits a home run on this aptly.

The Global Frequency is a semi-secret rescue organization, partly funded by the G8 countries, with a 1001 members across the world. All linked by the internet, all at the top of their professions, it will include professors, assassins, mercenaries, scientists, magicians, policemen, Para-psychologists, Le Parkour runners. All will drop whatever they are doing at the moment and come to people’s aid when the head of Global Frequency, Miranda Zero, calls.

Global Frequency Panel 1
Global Frequency © Warren Ellis

The disasters they have to sort out are not the Thunderbird, fire in a building/giant crocodile type though. No, the members of Global Frequency have to stop such events like a black hole opening over San Francisco, defeating a real-life 500 million dollar man, a memetic alien virus, terrorists releasing an Ebola virus over London from the London Eye.

What Ellis and the artists give these tales is a sense of pace and excitement, each story is a single adventure with the only constant being Miranda Zero and Aleph (her ever-vigilant Watchman, who contacts each of the members needed for the assignment and relays information from every other member on the Frequency to those on the ground). Think the BBC’s Spooks with better resources and attitude.

And that’s the kind of organization that should be picking up the rights to make stories such as these. With its episodic nature, Global Frequency is ready made for television and would prove a lot better than what passes for programming today. Ellis litters each tale with throw-away ideas that deserve a whole story to themselves and lesser writers would mess up by explaining them. Each artist (including Steve Dillon, David Lloyd, Glenn Fabry, Jon J Muth) acquit themselves admirably, bringing just what the story needs.

The standout tale in this first collection is the one concerning the Le Parkour runner and the Ebola virus. Le Parkour runners treat urban cities like obstacle courses. Tarzan with buildings. You’ve seen the BBC advert with the guy running across the rooftops? That’s Le Parkour.

Global Frequency panel 2
Global Frequency © Warren Ellis

Ellis and Lloyd make it more relevant by making the terrorists, young, white students and the runner an East End Indian girl who knows nothing about bombs or Ebola viruses. As Aleph and Miranda Zero relay information to her, she races across London to the Eye and the excitement and tension mounts. If you start to hum your favorite disaster theme (Thunderbirds, Mission Impossible, Bond) whilst reading, you’ll begin to see what Ms.Shepherd means.

As said, Global Frequency is the kind of thing that should be on television today. The BBC or ITV would be onto a winner if they did produce it and both should look into seeing if the rights are available. As it is, for the moment, it’s the comic-book world that wins.

Treat yourself to something that’s fun and exciting, with solid, interesting writing and fast paced art.

Global Frequency is written by Warren Ellis with art by Garry Leach, Glenn Fabry, Steve Dillon, Roy Martinez, Jon J Muth, David Lloyd and David Baron. Published by Wildstorm Comics, priced £10.95.

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