By Warren Ellis & JH Williams III & various (WildStorm)
ISBN: 978-1-4012-1150-9 (TPB)
Los Angeles is a dump and a dumping ground. Personal opinions aside, that’s the premise of this deep, dark espionage thriller from comics wunderscribe Warren Ellis and graphic illuminator JH Williams III. When MI6 screw-up MichaelJones is no longer capable of doing his job, he’s offered a comfy testing role as his ticket out. No-one in their right mind should ever trust security service types, but that’s the point – the burnt out, alcoholic agent just isn’t all that anymore.
After years of unspeakable atrocities ostensibly intended to create better operatives – up to and including the bizarre and inexplicable Desolation Test, the ravaged remains of Michael Jones are consigned to the reservation provided by the West’s Intelligence Agencies for retired, rejected and discarded agents plus all the experiments that didn’t measure up: Los Angeles, USA.
There they can live out their lives as they see fit, but can never, EVER leave the city. There’s no pension scheme but the dregs can do whatever they need to make a living as long as it’s within city limits.
Jones is a mess, both physically and mentally. He can’t drink, won’t sleep and takes too many drugs. He avoids daylight, regularly hallucinates and is numb to all sensation and emotion. In “the Community” he freelances as a private eye/fixer: sorting out problems that can’t be resolved through legitimate methods.
In this first compilation (available in paperback and digital formats and collecting issues #1-6 of the WildStorm comic book) that problem is a retired NSA spook who’s being blackmailed by new members of the Community who have somehow stolen the Holy Grail of pornography. The ravaged Colonel Nigh wants Adolf Hitler’s homemade porno back and will do anything to get it. Unfortunately, so will all the other filthy rich deviants who populate Tinseltown.
However, something just isn’t right. Jones may not feel, but something deeper is hiding behind all the subterfuge and depravity…
Sardonic and rather bleak, this caustic, tension-soaked, trauma-packed action caper dwells on the nasty side of the espionage genre: a thriller with plenty of twists and a solid mystery to intrigue the most jaded reader. The content is strictly adults only – and by that, I mean that the subtext of duty, love and honour are assaults on the traditions of the hero-spy in as brutal a manner as the sex and violence underscore the dark side of the American Dream-town.
This is a story for cynical adults, not horny kids with appropriate IDs. Great stuff beautifully conceived and magically limned.
© 2005, 2006 Warren Ellis & JH Williams III. All Rights Reserved.