Global Frequency: Planet Ablaze
Global Frequency is the latest ongoing science fiction comic from writer Warren Ellis, perhaps most famous for his creation Spider Jerusalem of Transmetropolitan. The Global Frequency is an international collective of 1,001 trouble-shooters, each specialising in a different area, waiting for their call from central command to drop everything and save the world.
In this first volume, bringing together issues one to six of the monthly comic, we see a range of characters capable of different things - a woman with a bionic arm, a sniper, a driver, a magician, a le parkour runner. These characters are all pulled together by a couple of women - Miranda Zero who is the boss of the group and seems to like to get in at ground zero to organise things; and Aleph, who sits in a control centre and co-ordinates getting Global Frequency types out of bed to go on missions. She'll also pull in extra help like satellite imaging and police escorts.
Each chapter deals with a different disaster, a different group of specialists and a different location - Ellis could almost be writing a text-book of potential near-future catastrophes and terrorist attacks. His fascination with technology shines through, creating believable near-future science fiction that feels like it could happen at any moment, grounded as it is in research and all-too logical extrapolation. He's also quite comfortable wiping some of his characters out every now and then, helping to reaffirm the danger involved in the situations, which many lesser comics might balk at.
The fact that a different artist draws each episode is one of those things that sounds novel but ends up a bit messy when collected like this. There's no arguing about the quality of talent that's been lined up for this, with the likes of Steve Dillon, Garry Leach, David Lloyd and Glenn Fabry on the case, but their differing styles can detract from the common themes, such as the varying renditions of Zero and Aleph. You notice these things more when six issues of a monthly title are pulled together like this.
There's something strangely Thunderbirds about the whole 'international rescue' concept, but this is a Thunderbirds that has been stolen off the kids, ground through the Warren Ellis imagination mincer and made into gourmet near-future sci-fi snackettes. As long as you don't balk at a sprinkling of Ellis-style shock value (zombies with bleeding eyes, women snogging, the odd swear word and the occasional exploding head) this is a bite-sized and entertaining treat.
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