Global Frequency by Warren Ellis

details
Title: Global Frequency.
Writer(s): Warren Ellis.
Artist(s): Garry Leach, Glenn Fabry, Liam Sharp, Steve Dillon, Roy Allan Martinez, Jon J Muth, David Lloyd, Simon Bisley, Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, Lee Bermejo, Tomm Coker, Jason Pearson & Gene Ha.
Colourist(s): David Baron & Art Lyon.
Letterer(s): Michael Heisler.
Publisher: DC Comics.

Format
:
Hardcover – Deluxe Edition.
Release Date: April 10th, 2018 (first published on February 5th, 2013).
Pages: 320.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781401278205.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.

thoughts

Every second count. Isn’t that what they always say? Whether you’re drowning in the middle of a river or being held at gunpoint by a psychopathic serial killer, it’s within those precious seconds that everything can change and that means you either suffer a terrible death or live to see another day. But what if state-issued protection (police, army, etc.) wasn’t enough? What if the answer lied in a whole different system that didn’t abide by the same rules as everyone else? Created and written by Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Planetary, The Authority), this graphic novel collects 12 issues consisting of 12 stand-alone stories drawn by different artists and all looking into the heroic feats of an independent international rescue organization.

What is Global Frequency about? The world in which this story is set resembles that of the 21st century with a science-fiction twist that comes in a myriad of forms, whether it’s mutated human-weapons or sinister cults. Founded by the mysterious Miranda Zero, this graphic novel looks into an agency made up of a 1001 agents scattered across the globe with singular expertise perfect for unexpected crises too big or too strange to handle by governmental means. All connected via a special mobile phone, these hidden heroes are only solicited by Aleph, their tactical and strategic operator with unlimited technical support, when danger is in their proximity.

Untitled

While the idea in principle merits some notice, the result leaves a lot to be desired. By having stand-alone stories set in the same world but following a different cast of characters each time—besides Miranda and Aleph who remain recurring figures—allows no room for character development. Then again, it can be argued that the graphic novel didn’t have that purpose in the first place but it doesn’t help when the newly-introduced agents in each story vary greatly in their skill sets—and, inevitably, in their response time and problem-solving strategies—and their personalities. From a young computer-tech prodigy to a retired detective, very few stand out much more than others but all remain relatively average when it comes to their charisma and appeal. With a distinctive and effortless blend of gore, violence, and dry humour, creator Warren Ellis thus looks to tease readers a radical take on our response to terror.

As part of creator Warren Ellis’s pitch for this twelve-issues comic book series—which never got renewed for more afterward—is the solicitation of a different artist for each issue. While it is a refreshing idea that allows the graphic novel to withhold a certain element of surprise, it, unfortunately, led to some rather unimpressive artwork that hardly contributed to the volume’s identity. Rough, unpolished, unconvincing. The visual design for most of the stories struggled to form a cohesive whole and invites skepticism rather than admiration for the work before us. Despite efforts by colourists David Baron and Art Lyon to unify the issues through shades and tone, the artistic vision for this graphic novel remained ordinary. If it weren’t for the episodic nature of this graphic novel, where the structure of each story looked to skim over world-building and character development and have recourse to quick resolutions, the artwork could’ve played a much bigger role in helping this title dig itself out of its hole.

Global Frequency is a cursory look at an alarming world filled with danger that only a covert intelligence organization could hastily handle.


EXHIBITA

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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

exhibitb

A pilot episode based on this graphic novel was canceled after The WB Television Network ended up not commissioning the series.

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16 comments

  • Sounds like he tried the short story instead of a longer novel approach and that it didn’t work. Plus, 12 different artists? You can’t do that to readers!

    Liked by 2 people

  • I was mostly ok with the different artists, and the idea of a bunch of short stories, but some of the stories just weren’t very strong. I found this one a very mixed bag, so I rated it the same as you did. I likely would not have continued reading if they’d continued publishing. Perhaps they could have done a better job adapting it for tv, though it sounds like that didn’t go over well, either.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with you, sir. I like the idea in itself but what we got didn’t do it for me. It’s not bad but it could’ve been much better. Some of the stories were really half-baked for me and it could’ve worked had they given each story more than just one issue…

      Like

  • This book was recommended to me by the staff of my fav comic book store, but I never ended up reading it. They have never steered me wrong, but your review makes me cautious of ever picking it up now.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I do think it had plenty of potential and many will still enjoy it a lot for what it is but, as you probably saw through this review, I don’t think it’s flawless and could’ve benefited from more than one issue per story. Thanks for reading, Nancy! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  • Ha well, I get why you would have no room for character’s development indeed! The idea is good but it would probably have been more interesting in a true book with more room to have some character development!

    Liked by 2 people

  • Eh, meh. Sounds like too much thinking and not enough actual doing – especially in the areas of character development, plot, or a clear, consistent artistic vision 😉 I think Ellis wanted to conduct an experiment, but it backfired. Maybe if he actually continued some of the stories it would have been more compelling. This sounds like a sketchbook, and not a finished work.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yep. It felt like an experiment all right. Each story could’ve benefited from more pages or at least more than one issue to make them much more appealing… For someone picking them up randomly at its monthly release back then, it was probably a fun run. Collected? You just can’t help but see the flaws in the graphic novel and the reasons why it never got past its initial promised 12 issues…

      Liked by 2 people

  • Insightful review Lashaan – I’ve had my eye on this title for some time but never got around to checking it out. I’m definitely a fan of Warren Ellis (he wrote one of the best modern Iron Man stories and did some excellent James Bond comics for Dynamite) but I had no idea this was only twelve standalone issues. The mix of different artists is definitely off-putting (but at least they’re standalone chapters) and although the concept certainly sounds interesting I can see how it ultimately wouldn’t come together successfully due to the episodic nature of the storytelling.

    Funny you should mention the pilot (starring the awesome Michelle Forbes) for the aborted series, I was going to ask if you’d known about that!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Chris! Yep, it had a great pitch but the execution wasn’t right for me. It would’ve been interesting if they had given it another round of 12 issues to see if it could go anywhere but, unfortunately, it never really flies off.

      I do have Transmetropolitan queued up to be read at some point but haven’t looked further into his work. It’s definitely REALLY promising to know that you can vouch for the guy’s stuff. I’ll keep an eye out for those Iron Man/James Bond stuff for sure now. Thanks for reading as always, Chris! 😀

      Liked by 2 people

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