Feb 19, 2010

List-Mania: Warren Ellis

Day 111

I have been really trying to keep my geekiness in check but some days these columns just scream out geekiness. And who I am I to stop it completely? Especially when I am having a hard time wanting to blog.

So bear with me or just skip this column altogether because I am going to be talking about comic books and graphic novels. Today I am going to spotlight my favorite writer Warren Ellis.

I first discovered Ellis with his run on Stormwatch and immediately I was impressed. He took a team of just typical superheroes and turned them completely into real people with real situations. It is hard to describe why I like his writing but I will follow him where ever he goes and no matter what he writes. What impresses me is his imagination and how well he grasps human emotion. He can write some impressive hardcore science fiction but yet gives us characters with many layers and personality quirks. Like I said before, I will pick up anything he writes. He can write horror, science fiction, superhero stuff and crime books. And he can mix these genres together and get something extremely fascinating and exciting. I prefer his superhero work but I love pretty much everything he has done. I better stop before I really start gushing. Here are my Top 5 favorite works by Warren Ellis. I have listed the product description along with my comments.

5) NextWave
RRRAAAAAGGGGGHHHHH! Action! Excitement! Explosions! The Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort, or H.A.T.E. (a subsidiary of the Beyond Corporation) put NEXTWAVE together to fight Bizarre Weapons of Mass Destruction. When NEXTWAVE discovers that H.A.T.E. and Beyond are terrorist cells themselves, and that the BWMDs were intended to kill them, they are less than pleased. In fact, they are rather angry. So they make things explode. Lots of things. And that's only the beginning! Starring Monica Rambeau (formerly Captain Marvel and Photon), Aaron Stack (Machine Man), Tabitha Smith (X-Force's Meltdown), monster-hunter Elsa Bloodstone, and The Captain! If you like anything, you will LOVE NEXTWAVE! BOOM!
I love this book because he takes the Marvel Universe (and superhero stuff in general) and makes fun of it. Ellis's dark humor at its best.

4) Fell
Detective Richard Fell is transferred over the bridge from the big city to Snowtown, a feral district whose police investigations department numbers three and a half people (one detective has no legs). Dumped in this collapsing urban trashzone, Richard Fell is starting all over again. In a place where nothing seems to make any sense, Fell clings to the one thing he knows to be true: every body's hiding something.
I love this book because it is not for the squeamish. Ellis takes his stories from real events in life and that makes it all the more creepy. Like the pack of dogs in Detroit to the man that keeps his daughter sick on purpose to the horrifying tradition of hanging baby corpses in your house to ward off evil spirits. Fascinating stuff!

3) Scars
How much of a monster do you have to become to hunt monsters? John Cain has been working Homicide long enough to get hard to pretty much anything; even wrenching personal loss. But everyone has a limit, and today it's gotten too much to bear. Today, he gets assigned something that finally breaks through his defenses - a child killing that hits horribly close to home. Until today, he's been a good cop, a cop who goes by procedure because it's the best way to ensure that scum go to prison. Now, he makes the parents of the victim a chilling promise: he will find the killer using any means necessary. And the killer will not get away with it - no matter what it takes!
This is perhaps the only Ellis work that I have only read twice. This book felt too real and is based on a horror that we unfortunately see every day in the news. Horrifying and heart wrenching at the same time. This book stayed with me for a long time.

2) The Authority
From the ashes of StormWatch (a United Nations super team) comes a new team of individuals who will use their incredible powers and abilities to force the planet Earth to pay attention. Together they are the Authority and they will change the world.
The Authority grew naturally from being a United Nations super response team to a group of heroes that are proactive instead of reactive. They are not afraid to use their power to make the world a better place and they will not let anyone stand in the way. I love Ellis's run on this book because his ideas get bigger and bigger. It starts off with a super villain terrorist that tries to take over the world and they wipe him out. Then the Authority wards off an invasion from another dimension and lastly they fight off the original owners of the Earth.

1) Planetary
This first collection stars a team of super- powered mystery archaeologists who have uncovered evidence of super-human activity that spans the centuries. The team includes the ancient and enigmatic Elijah Snow, hot-tempered Jakita Wagner, and the insane techno-expert Drummer, as they deal with a World War II supercomputer that can access other universes, a spectral spirit of vengeance, and more!
I love this series because it blends everything that I love about Ellis's writing in one place. You get superheroes, crime, horror, action, it homages every genre of comics.

Honorable Mention: Orbiter
In this science fiction mystery tale, Venture, a space shuttle that disappeared ten years ago with its crew of seven, miraculously returns from outer space without warning or explanation. Occupied by only an insane pilot, the spacecraft shows evidence of a remarkable journey through the solar systems. Now, in order to solve the mystery of the shuttle's inexplicable journey and the fate of its six lost astronauts, three NASA specialists are called upon to investigate the alien instrumentation and materials that adorn Venture. But as secrets are revealed, it soon becomes apparent that the shuttle's journey not only took it outside our solar system but to a realm of existence that is unimaginable.
If you love science fiction, I cannot recommend this book enough. Beautiful, haunting and full of imagination. You just gotta read it!


  1. The guy looks a little creepy, not geeky!

  2. You should read his stuff. It is both.