Current Reviews


Global Frequency #9

Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2003
By: Cody Dolan

Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Lee Bermejo

Publisher: DC/Wildstorm

There is a hostage situation at an Osakan experimental medical facility, and Takashi Sato is the only Global Frequency operative that can get there in time. Problem is, he doesnít want anything to do with the organization. Once he agrees to help (which we all know heís going to do), Sato is forced to deal with a sinister drug that has pushed all of the doctors in the place over the edge.

For the uninitiated (and I pity those of you who arenít reading this series), Global Frequency is a book about an organization of the same name comprised of 1,001 highly skilled volunteers. Each person on the Frequency can be called at any time to use those skills (be it expert medical advice or a keen sniperís eye) and assist in some kind of rescue operation. This has made for some great moments of serialized storytelling, and this issue continues that trend.

In this issue, we meet the first operative of the series that wants nothing to do with the Frequency. While on the surface thatís a new and interesting plot twist, methinks Sato protests too much. Itís clear that he hates the organization for something (he has carved an ĎXí into the Frequency logo tattooed on his chest) but his actions donít maintain the level of vitriol Ellis has him spew at Aleph. Why does he still have his special G.F. phone, and why is it turned on? Why does he answer it? Why does his still have his G.F. t-shirt lying around? Why did the Frequency need a break-in specialist when the front door was wide open? None of these questions are answered, and that makes for a weak premise. And I understand that he could just be blowing smoke, but that contradiction didnít play too well with me.

Once I get into the story, however, I almost forgot all of those concerns. The drug the doctors were experimenting with has truly horrifying effects, and Ellis doesnít soften the blow one iota. Apparently the author doesnít trust surgeons too much, because here we see the dark side of their knowledge. Ever wonder what would happen if they approached their work with a religious fervor? Ellis has, and itís not pretty. Satoís attitude towards ďsavingĒ the victims of the experiments reads perfectly for a character that claims to have given up on life, as does his final decision to see his operation out.

This is the first comic Iíve read that featured Lee Bermejoís art, and I have to say Iím impressed. His illustrations are dark and inky, but still clear and realistic. The expression work on his characterís faces is some of the best Iíve seen, from the vacant-eyed doctors, to the surprise on Satoís face when confronting them. Ellisís script calls for some gruesome images, and Bermejo doesnít hold back. Words really canít do his work justice, as some of the gory aspects have to be seen to be believed.

I rarely talk about colorists, but Iíd be shirking my duties if I didnít applaud David Baronís work. Even though the book contains gory images I never got the feeling that it was over the top in anyway, and thatís thanks to Baron. Once Sato gets inside the facility, the colorist bathes everything in sterile greens, yellows, and blues. The only time after page 8 that we see the color red is when Satoís gun is going off. Baronís colors set an appropriately creepy mood and keep the story from achieving levels of video game gore.

Final Word:
Much like Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis has a much-deserved reputation for cooking up high concepts and combining them with sadistic plot devices. Like his work or hate it, you canít help but be fascinated by the ideas that simultaneously repulse and enthrall you. Global Frequency has become the perfect showcase for Ellisís vivid imagination, and the world of comics is better off for it. Itís too bad this issueís shaky start held my enjoyment of it back.

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