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).
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.
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.
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.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!
A pilot episode based on this graphic novel was canceled after The WB Television Network ended up not commissioning the series.