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(Published by Helix/DC Comics, written by Warren Ellis, pencils by Darick Robertson)

Spider Jerusalem is a moody git who despises everything that doesn't give him instant gratification. Warren Ellis is just a moody git who despises everything. Then again, so would you if you lived in Southend, a small (minded) suburban seaside town with ideas above its tatty station.

Spider Jerusalem, on the other hand, lives in The City; a sprawling, anomalous - anonymous, even - mess of skyscrapers, graffiti, pollution, parks, advertising, not to mention people. People of all sorts: drugged-up, tooled-up, pierced-in, screwed-down, floating-free. This is the future - and boy, it works. Or does it?

Spider's basically a literary device - a journo who describes what goes on around him. So we get his (ie. Ellis') opinions on everything from riots to cryogenics, bizarro religions to body-modification. Amongst all this are the accessories and lifestyle trappings: Air Jesus trainers (the first all-terrain training-shoe - yes folks, it'll let you walk on water), Ebola cola, the drugged-up 'maker' that provides food and info, Brides of Christ (Fred Christ, that is) and bionic body-parts de rigeur.

The City is full of weirdoes who are actually the norm in the unspecified futurescape of Ellis' mind. People who 'download' to become a mass of particles (known as 'foglets'). Reservations where people live as though in the far gone past, but why would anyone want to do that? Shorter life, inferior sperm (no anti-cancer gene. But one hell of a sex-life) and all sorts of diseases. But that's (p)reservation for you. There's a two-faced pussycat that smokes unfiltered Russian cigarettes and pisses over everything - in more ways than one. And there's a bald guy with tattoos (yes, he bares a passing resemblance to King Mob from The Invisbles) with a cold-turkey potato schnapps hangover and a penchant for caribou eyes. He's kicking against the pricks with an ageing punker attitude that could only be British (King Mob, again).

This all makes for good, albeit embittered, reading on a dystopian vision of the future that combines the right elements of good 'speculative fiction' (Ellis' definition) such as obscure out-of-print sci-fi, Bladerunner, Judge Dredd, cyberpunk, and a healthy dose of that aforementioned punk attitude. Coupled with Darick Robertson's detailed drawings and the luminous colours of the art team, this is one hell of a read - and one hell of a City.

Anna Jellinek

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