Bits of Everything: Global Frequency

Alright... Welcome back friends. I know... I know... It seems like ages since we've seen one another. I took a week off of my bi-weekly submission schedule because I wanted to shift to the opposite weeks of the bi-weekly pattern. And rather that exhaust my brain and expend too much of the social currency that I've earned with you fine folk that have been so kind as to read my articles by publishing them in back to back weeks. Hopefully you took some time to check out those wonderful Canadians from my last missive and found them to be as delightful as I do.

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So, here we are, back with another bit of everything. And while last week I mentioned that I could write about Warren Ellis every week and it would take me quite a while to run out of worthwhile topics I certainly didn't expect to be back on another of his works so quickly. Yet, here I am. And as a result of the strangest motivations that I can think of in recent memory, if not my whole life. June 18th there was an announcement from our government regarding the expansion of our military efforts. That's right folks, I'm here because of 2 words that brought with them thoughts of consternation and curiosity: Space Force. I'll give you a moment to think of the one word response that I'm certain that you'll come to... "Why?" I can almost hear you asking. Well when I think of weapons in space I think of three things: Reagan's Star Wars initiative, the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, and the topic of this week's article: Global Frequency.

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Warren Ellis has long had a love of the single issue story in the world of comics. His recent run on Moon Knight with Declan Shalvey being a good example of this. Some of the most impressive issues of Transmetropolitan were single issue stories (the best of which might be issue #8 "Another Cold Morning"), and perhaps the best example was his imprint at Avatar Press: Apparat Singles Group, which was a whole line of books each of which was stand alone and initially was to imagine what the comics industry would look like if Superheroes had never become the dominant genre of comics. But of all of those my favorite is Global Frequency. A 12 issue maxi-series published by DC under the Wildstorm line. Each issue was graced with really lovely covers by Brian Wood (Yeah, he did art early in his career and his covers for this series were totally boss), each issue was colored by David Baron, and each issue focused on different members of The Global Frequency: an independent, covert intelligence organization with 1,001 members, all of them experts in their own fields and all of them being called upon to save the planet, each mission is, in some way, lead by Miranda Zero, who is a former intelligence agent, and coordinated by the brilliant young hacker Aleph.

Ellis, being the futurist that he his, included lots of concepts that seemed unfathomable at the moment and prescient upon reflection. One of the coolest parts of the series, at the time, was the phones the characters carried. These cool devices that kept them in contact with their leader and also could provide them with all kinds of additional information thanks to the video screens they featured... 5 years prior to the debut of the iPhone and certainly before ubiquity of any kind of a phone with such a screen anywhere outside of Japan.

The first issue of the series was strong enough to wind up being adapted as a television pilot for The WB. It is an enigma to me to this day how the series hasn't been adapted into a series. It just so easily lends itself to serialized content. It cold easily be the kind of show that would focus mostly on the single episode, which would certainly be unique in the landscape of genre television these days. I could also imagine it being similar to something like Black Mirror where actors not typical to television could come to play super cool roles for single episodes. Noe need for a theme song or introduction at all, just start every episode with the special phone ringing and bang, zap you're off to the races. Whoever in the world of making large scale genre fiction on television these days can have that suggestion for free. You're welcome. 

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The series is full of fascinating characters and unique stories. Everything from mass hallucinations (or perhaps angel sightings) in issue 5 drawn by Jon J. Muth, to rampaging cyborgs in issue 2 drawn by Glenn Fabry, breakneck races across the rooftops of a city in issue 6 drawn by David Lloyd, one of the most brutally violent fight scenes I've ever read in a comic in issue 10 drawn by Tomm Coker, to the last desperate heroics of a most reluctant hero in issue #9 drawn by Lee Bermejo, even a break-in style story complete with safe room, traps, and one bad ass young woman showing the world that no one can invade her home and get away with it in issue #11 drawn by Jason Pearson.

You're probably wondering where Space Force comes in to all of this rambling... The final issue "Harpoon" deals with satellites armed with kinetic spears, telephone pole sized metal rods that when flung at the earth would create heat envelopes capable of similar levels of destruction to that of nuclear warheads but without any of the pesky long term fallout. These devices are simple... dangerously simple. Not needing the kind of precision that other kinds of orbital weapons might... especially when you find out what the intended purpose of those aforementioned satellites really are.

There it is folks. Another comic review, this time from a little further back but another really brilliant series. I hope you all take some time to check out this wonderful book and I hope that you let me know if you do.